Porsche Cup Middle East: Schmidt and Ashkanani duo scoop double success for Al Nabooda Racing Team
Reem Circuit, Saudi Arabia -Dec 6, 2015– The UAE’s Al Nabooda Racing team have once again proved unbeatable with championship leader Jeffrey Schmidt securing another landmark victory to extend his winning streak to four straight wins in four races in Season 7 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.
In a repeat of the opening race of Round 2 at Al Reem International Circuit in Saudi Arabia, Schmidt blazed from pole position on the grid following an outstanding qualifying session to take the chequered flag and top place on the podium unchallenged. The newcomer to Al Nabooda Racing has once again underlined his title winning pedigree securing the win over seventeen laps by a gap of 1.515 seconds to extend his lead in the overall driver standings to 14 points.
Ireland’s Ryan Cullen followed Schmidt over the line in second place with Al Nabooda Racing’s Zaid Ashkanani of Kuwait returning to the podium again to claim a hard earned third position. There was further good news for the UAE as Skydive Dubai Falcons driver Saeed Al Mehairi advanced from fifth on the grid to finish fourth, just outside the podium places. Elsewhere Qatar-based driver Charlie Frijns was fifth and home favourite Abdulaziz AlFaisal sixth.
Speaking after the race win and a dream debut weekend in Saudi Arabia, a delighted Jeffrey Schmidt of Al Nabooda Racing said:
“The race was really sandy. It was definitely one of the toughest races I have had. The first couple of laps were very difficult as the pressure from the pack behind meant there was no room for any mistakes. The first lap was hard as there was no reference point which meant I had to concentrate and drive really well. I am very happy with first place, it’s good for me personally in the championship and it’s a great team win as well. It’s been four races and four wins, but the other drivers are getting closer and closer so I definitely need to work hard to stay in front.”
Despite losing out on second place to Cullen, Al Nabooda Racing’s Ashkanani will be pleased with his overall contribution to the team over the weekend as he settles back into Porsche GT3 Cup racing following his exploits in the FIA GP3 series. Thanks to the victory of Schmidt and Ashkanani’s strong support Al Nabooda Racing has now increased their lead in the team championship to 45 points (182 points total) going into the winter break with two of the six rounds completed.
Following his third place finish Zaid Ashkanani added:
“Unfortunately I had a really bad start which saw me lose my position straight away. Hasher Maktoum was putting a lot of pressure on me from behind but I managed to finish in third place. It’s not what I wanted, but it’s not bad. I just have to work even harder now ahead of the next race.”
The second race of the weekend followed a similar pattern as the first race again highlighting the importance of qualifying at the Al Reem International Circuit. The tight and technical track covering 12 corners in only 3.2km made overtaking virtually impossible with few drivers able to change position from the grid to the end of the second race including the pair from Skydive Dubai Falcons.
For fourth placed driver Saeed Al Mehairi and seventh placed Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum the winter break will be an opportunity to re-group and look forward to three rounds of racing in their homeland of the UAE. Skydive Dubai Falcons are in second place in the race for the team title on 137 points, 25 points clear of third placed team AlFaisal Racing of Saudi Arabia.
Speaking after his fourth place Saeed Al Mehairi of Skydive Dubai Falcons said:
“Today went very well for us as a team and for myself also, I think we did a very good job here in Race 2. I started very well from the beginning, I started in 5th position and managed to get all the way into third place, I was battling between third and fourth position for a lot of the race and ended up finishing in fourth position. I am happy with the result and would like to thank the team and the mechanics as I think today was a very good team effort. I am now looking forward to the next race at the Yas marina circuit in Abu Dhabi.”
The championship now heads into a winter break before resuming in the UAE for three back to back rounds to kick start the New Year across January and February, closely followed by the return to Bahrain for the climactic conclusion to Season 7 in early March.
Regarded as the purest form of racing with all drivers competing in identical fifth generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cups, the unique one-make series will consist of 12 races between November 2015 and March 2016.