Saudi's defending champion aims for double Porsche victory in Bahrain
Dubai. The pressure is building for defending champion Prince Adulaziz Al Faisal as he tries to get back on course for another title triumph in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.
Trailing Bahrain's championship leader Sheikh Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa by six points at the half way stage in the season, the Saudi driver says he is also wary of the threat from Abu Dhabi's Khaled Al Qubaisi and teenager Fahad Algosaibi.
Looking forward to Rounds 7 and 8 of the 12-round series at Bahrain International Circuit on February 18-19, Prince Abdulaziz believes anything less than two race wins would be a major blow to his title hopes.
"I have no choice now other than to try and win the next six races, starting in Bahrain," he said. "That's my aim. I have to go for maximum points each time and hope I don't have any more mechanical problems.
"The pressure has been there from the start. The difference this season is that Salman won the first rounds whereas last year he didn't finish the opening race and failed to pick up any points.
"In fact he didn't complete three rounds last season but still finished runner-up in the championship. My aim is always to finish ahead of Salman. He has the advantage at the moment, and he's much more calm and focused this season.
"You can see it from his performances. He's worked hard on his condition, and anyone who wants to win in this championship need to be very fit."
While Abdulaziz and Salman are the only two drivers to have won races so far this season, each having scored three victories, the Saudi star believes Al Qubaisi and Saudi teenager Algosaibi are both capable of breaking that sequence.
Currently lying third in the series, after two second places and five podium finishes in the first six rounds, Al Qubaisi is determined to give himself a chance to fight for the title in the last two rounds on home territory at Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina Circuit on April 8-9.
Algosaibi drove into the record books last season as the youngest ever winner in Porsche one-make series racing, and is eager to record another victory in his last season before leaving school in Bahrain and studying overseas to become an industrial engineer.
"Salman and I obviously have an advantage over the others at the moment, but I wouldn't say we're the only two who can win races," said Abdulaziz. "Khaled has been having a very good season with a lot of podiums, and he is going to be very strong in Abu Dhabi. Fahad is also going well and I wouldn't count out either of them."
"We're only at the half way stage. The fight for the title is still on and you have to grab every point you can. The performance of all the drivers has improved this season. I was lucky last season in that that didn't have any mechanical trouble, whereas mechanical problems have already cost me one race this time."
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East forms part of a busy race programme at Bahrain International Circuit on 18-19 February alongside this season's second GP2 Asia meeting and the latest round of the WGA Supercars Championship Middle East.