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Bahraini star relishes "arrive and drive" experience as Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East returns to Abu Dhabi Title race could be heading for big finish, says Saudi driver Abu Dhabi. Saudi Arabia's Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal can...

Bahraini star relishes "arrive and drive" experience as Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East returns to Abu Dhabi

Title race could be heading for big finish, says Saudi driver

Abu Dhabi. Saudi Arabia's Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal can take a major step towards becoming the first winner of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East in Abu Dhabi at the weekend, but one of his closest rivals says the championship battle may yet produce a tense finish.

After back-to-back victories in the fifth and sixth rounds at Yas Marina Circuit a fortnight ago to make it five wins in six races, Prince Abdulaziz holds a commanding 29-point lead at the half way point in the one-make Porsche series.

But with 20 points available for a win, six rounds remaining and the unpredictable nature of motor racing, fellow Saudi driver Bandar Alesayi believes the title race is far from over.

"Abdulaziz has dominated the series so far and has a big lead, but I still think it will become a much closer championship by the end of the season," said Alesayi, who holds third place ahead of Rounds 7 and 8 which are part of the V8 Supercars weekend at Yas Marina Circuit on Friday and Saturday.

"From my point of view, I'm very happy with the way things have gone. In fact, my results have exceeded my expectations and I've been helped by other drivers having some problems.

"But I still have a lot to learn about the car and so I will be improving and I'm definitely looking to hold on to third position."

Bahrain's 2005 BMW Asia champion Sheikh Salman Bin Rashid Al Khalifa, one of the pre-season title favourites, is currently down in fifth place, but Alesayi expects him to make a move soon.

"He's very fast, and on his day is second to no-one," he said. "He's had problems in a couple of races but if he doesn't have any more he could get very close to Abdulaziz."

Sheikh Salman grabbed pole position for Round 5 in Abu Dhabi and finished runner-up in the race, but then withdrew from Round 6 because of a stomach illness.

"I wasn't able to keep any food or fluid in my system that weekend and by the second day I felt completely drained and had no energy," he said.

Currently 50 points behind Prince Abdulaziz, he says: "As long as there's a mathematical chance to win the championship I'll keep trying. I just want to concentrate on my own performance and not let any other factors affect me."

The Porsche GT3 Cup series is based on an "arrive and drive" concept. It allows competitors like Khaled Al Qubaisi, an acquisitions advisor with Mubadala Development Company in Abu Dhabi, and Saudi businessman, Fawaz Algosaibi, to leave the office behind, step into a perfectly prepared Porsche GT3 Cup car on arrival at the circuit, and race.

"It's unique, and it works particularly well at Yas Marina Circuit which is a dream zone for me," said Sheikh Salman. "The hotel is right there at the track so I just get up and race -- it's a full-on package," he said.

In the Mobil 1 Trophy for rookies and true amateur drivers over the age of 45, Saudi's Faisal Binladen will be aiming to maintain his 100 per cent winning record at the weekend.

-source: pcc me

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About this article
Series Porsche
Drivers Faisal Binladen , Abdulaziz Al Faisal , Bandar Alesayi , Khaled Al Qubaisi