ME: Series Bahrain preview

Abdulaziz under pressure from Salman as Emiratis make strong start in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East UAE duo on the charge as Porsche GT3 Cup series heads for Bahrain Dubai. After Saudi Arabia dominated the Porsche GT3 Cup ...

Abdulaziz under pressure from Salman as Emiratis make strong start in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East

UAE duo on the charge as Porsche GT3 Cup series heads for Bahrain

Dubai. After Saudi Arabia dominated the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East in its debut season, there are early signs just into the 2010-11 series that the UAE and Bahrain could have plenty to say about who take the honours this time.

Even before the new season got under way at Yas Marina Circuit alongside Abu Dhabi's Formula One world title decider, Saudi's Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal admitted that he anticipated a stern test of his ability to hold on to his GT3 Cup title.

Having run away with the 2009-10 championship, winning nine out of 12 rounds, Abdulaziz was given an immediate warning of the test he now faces when Bahrain's Sheikh Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa beat him into second place in Round 1.

Twenty four hours later Abdulaziz reversed the finishing positions, with the result that he and Salman share the championship lead ahead of Rounds 3 and 4 during the next Speedweekend at Bahrain International Circuit on December 2-3.

Aiming to wipe out any theory that this year's Porsche GT3 Cup series could quickly develop into a two-car battle, Abu Dhabi's Khaled Al Qubaisi will head for Bahrain in a buoyant mood, confident that he can build on his first two podium finishes in the series, which is sponsored by Michelin and Mobil 1

While Abdulaziz was supreme last season and Salman was fastest in qualifying seven times but could manage only one race win, Al Qubaisi showed an abundance of raw talent, but lacked the experience and consistency to make this tell.

Following a summer spent in the intensely competitive environment of the Porsche Mobil 1 Super Cup in Europe, he has emerged as a more mature driver who seems committed to learn from past mistakes.

After finding himself on the bumper of Abdulaziz in one of last year's rounds in Abu Dhabi, he swept in front, but in the excitement of leading on his home circuit quickly lost his focus, left the track twice, and failed to finish.

Fast forward nine months to the first round of the new season at the same venue and, as Abdulaziz battled to hold his lead over Salman and eventually lost it, Al Qubaisi had the two 911 GT3 Cup cars in front of him in his sights. But on this occasion he was content to hold back and confirm his first visit to the podium, tuck the points away to secure third place in the championship, knowing his time to win will come.

Whether it will come in Bahrain next week remains to be seen. But Al Qubaisi certainly believes he can make his breakthrough this season, and while the GT3 Cup title may be too much to expect this time, another prize could well find its way back to the UAE.

Musaed Al Murar, Al Qubaisi's team mate, had a dream start to the series in Abu Dhabi where he was the top rookie in both opening rounds. He has a long way to go to match Saudi's Faisal Binladen who won the rookie class in the first 11 rounds last season on his way to the title, but like Al Qubaisi he looks a driver on the way up.

-source: pcc me/totalcompr

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