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ME: Series midseason report

Qubaisi aims to take Porsche title race to the wire

Dubai. Bahrain's Sheikh Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa has been warned that he will need more than home advantage to protect his lead in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East through the second half of the 2010-11 season.

At the half way point, Sheikh Salman holds a fragile six-point lead over Saudi Arabia's defending champion, Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal, with Abu Dhabi's Khaled Al Qubaisi, just six points further away in a series offering 20, 18 and 16pts for the top three in each race.

And while the championship leader is relishing the fact that the next four rounds take place at Bahrain International Circuit, Qubaisi at least believes he will find no major home track advantage over his main rivals and expects the title race to go down to the wire.

"I don't think home advantage is a key in this championship," said Al Qubaisi. "The top five all know BIC well enough to be able to compete for the top honours."

"This year, in my view, the championship won't be decided before the final round, and my plan is to keep my chances alive until then. If I can do that anything is possible. From the start of the season I've had a goal of finishing in the top three at the end of the championship, and that definitely seems possible."

"My aim from now on is to gather as many points as I can. We've reached the midpoint in the season and I seem to have settled in third position nicely. But I'd like to narrow the gap to Abdulaziz and Salman."

After a bitterly cold visit to Saudi for Rounds 5 and 6, the Porsche GT3 Cup series is taking a break before the next two rounds in Bahrain on February 18-19, with two more to follow there on April 1-2 prior to the climax at Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina Circuit a week later.

A second and third place finish in Saudi brought Al Qubaisi 34pts, his best weekend haul to date in the series, although he still left Reem International Circuit feeling disappointed.

He had looked certain to grab runner's up spot for both races before Sheikh Salman slipped past him on the last lap in Round 6 after the Abu Dhabi driver had beaten off a succession of challenges over 17 laps.

"It was a slight mistake from my side, and a very costly one, and Sheikh Salman was well positioned to capitalise," said Al Qubaisi. "It wasn't that difficult to hold on to second before that. "I'm more composed and patient than I was last season and I was driving on a pace and race line which made it impossible to be overtaken on the Reem circuit unless I made a mistake, which unfortunately I did on the final lap."

-source: pcc me/totalcompr

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