Porsche Cup: Al Nabooda Racing thrive as Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East reaches halfway stage
Abu Dhabi, January 25, 2016 – As Al Nabooda Racing’s Jeffrey Schmidt cruised into his sixth consecutive win at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit last weekend, it marked the halfway stage in Season 7 of the region’s most professional racing series with three more spectacular instalments still to come.
The level of consistency that Schmidt has shown so far this season bears the hallmark of unprecedented magnitude, catapulting the Dubai based racing prodigy within touching distance of the coveted title. Sitting comfortably atop of the overall driver’s standings having amassed 150 points, the 21-year-old can look back on a season through which he has truly launched himself onto the world stage.
“I’ve always been confident in my ability, ever since I started out with go-karting as a young boy I knew that I could potentially do well if given the time and opportunity. Now fast-forward to 2016 and it’s just been the stuff of dreams. To be the first driver in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East to win six races in a row is just fantastic, and I’m really hopeful that I can go ahead and secure the title in the coming races,” Schmidt said, while adding:
“But I’ve got to say that it really is a team effort. Al Nabooda Racing are backing me every single day and provide everything for me to drive as fast as possible, while my teammate Zaid [Ashkanani] keeps pushing me on the track. It’s exactly the kind of situation you need to be in if you have aspirations to win and build a career in racing.”
While Schmidt is the runaway leader, Al Nabooda teammate Zaid Ashkanani remains in hot pursuit with 128 overall points. The Kuwaiti starlet burst onto the scene as an unknown 17-year-old in 2012, and sensationally won the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East only in his second season. After a year in which he added GP3 to his racing resume, the 21-year-old was back in the fold for this campaign having signed up for the Dubai outfit.
Commenting on reaching the halfway stage driving the legendary Porsche GT3 Cup car draped in Al Nabooda colours, Ashkanani said:
“Porsche GT3 racing is incredible made even more so when it’s for a team like Al Nabooda Racing. To work with this incredible car and against such terrific talents is a real blessing, and I’m just enjoying it. This region is famed for its passion for motorsport, and having already been back to legendary circuits across Bahrain, Saudi-Arabia and Abu Dhabi is a fantastic feeling.
“I’m pleased with my performances so far, but I know that I can go even faster. I’m still learning and pushing hard to challenge Jeffrey [Schmidt], but it’s going to be tough to beat him to the title. Anything can still happen though, and I’m just concentrating on taking each race as they come, while making sure that we clinch the team title for all our supporters, sponsors, friends and family in the UAE.”
With Al Nabooda Racing team enjoying the feats of their dynamic duo, the UAE team is in the driving seat for the Team Championship having picked up an incredible 278 points – 99 points ahead of second-placed Al Faisal Racing of Saudi-Arabia, followed by the Qatar based Frijns Structural Steel ME who trail by 148 points in third.
Known for developing Arab racing talent at grassroots level, the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East keeps producing new heroes on the track. In the Silver Michelin Category, the standings for the youngest drivers in the series, the Saudi sensation Saud Al Faisal is heading the charts with 81 points having consistently delivered strong results in his debut season.
For Walter Lechner, founder and manager of Lechner Racing, the promoter behind the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, the youngsters’ achievements this season offer a taste of what is to come from this region in the world of motorsports:
“The region’s finest one-make series keeps getting better and better, and we are delighted to see the Porsche GT3 Challenge Cup Middle East’s seventh season already well underway. With new talent emerging and motor sports fans across the region in awe of the spectacular racing ability that these drivers regularly showcase, it is certainly one of the most challenging competitions the region has ever seen. We have a lot of exciting races to look forward to still this year, and it’s particularly pleasing to see young local talents like Zaid [Ashkanani] and Saud [Al Faisal] doing so well – it just goes to show that this region is truly one of the best when it comes to raw talent.”
Regarded as the purest form of racing with all drivers competing in identical fifth generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cups, the unique one-make series consists of 12 races between November 2015 and March 2016.
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East now heads to Dubai for two rounds across January and February, closely followed by the return to Bahrain in early March which is set to be a thrilling end to Season 7.