ME: Series news 2010-03-23

Porsche drives new Middle East race series back to Saudi Prince Abdulaziz within reach of glory in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Dubai.The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East reaches its climax at Reem International Circuit,...

Porsche drives new Middle East race series back to Saudi

Prince Abdulaziz within reach of glory in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East

Dubai.The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East reaches its climax at Reem International Circuit, outside Riyadh, over the next nine days, with Saudi Arabia's Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal on the verge of creating history as the first winner of the drivers' title.

Prince Abdulaziz has won six out of eight rounds since the new one-make Porsche series was launched in Bahrain back in December, finishing second in each of the other two races.

He holds a massive 45-point lead over his nearest rival, team-mate and cousin Prince Khalid Al Faisal, and while there are four rounds remaining he can clinch the title with another couple of second place finishes in Rounds 9 & 10 at Reem over the next two days (March 24-25).

Should he need more time, the final two rounds follow at Reem on Wednesday and Thursday next week (March 31 - April 1).

There were jubilant scenes when the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East made its first appearance at Reem in January, with Prince Abdulaziz marking Saudi's first ever international circuit race meeting with back-to-back victories.

He repeated that feat when the Michelin and Mobil 1-sponsored series moved on to Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina Circuit last month and a fortnight later scored another win and a second place in the UAE capital.The only other two drivers to score victory in the series to date are Prince Khalid and fourth- placed Bahraini star Sheikh Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa, both of whom will be eager to grab their second wins during the last four rounds in Saudi.

Designed to identify top Arab and local-based talent in the Middle East and become a platform for entry into the world of international GT and sports car racing, the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East is a new regional version of the GT3 Cup one-make series already running with huge success in Brazil, New Zealand and the US.

The series is organised and managed by Austrian-based Lechner Racing on behalf of Porsche Middle East & Africa. All the drivers compete in identical 2010 model Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars. "We are extremely excited to have launched the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at a time when motorsport in the region is enjoying enormous popularity," said Deesch Papke, Managing Director, Porsche Middle East & Africa. "It has been an excellent first season so far, and we're confident that the series will go from strength to strength in the years ahead."

Headed by Walter Lechner, who had great success as a sports car driver with Porsche in the 1980s, Lechner Racing have established a permanent base for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at the Bahrain International Circuit.

"Like its counterparts in Brazil, New Zealand and America, the new GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East series is run at the same very high technical level as the Porsche Carrera Cup series which has been staged so successfully worldwide over the last 16 years," said Lechner, who has managed many Porsche racing teams.

Competitors in a one-make series all drive identical, equally well-prepared racing versions of production cars. The main benefits are that costs are minimised, making the sport more accessible, while the emphasis is on driver skill, with no driver having the advantage of a faster, superior vehicle.

The 11-strong line-up for Rounds 9 and 10 includes Saudi's Bandar Alesayi, who returns to action on home territory lying third in the championship. After Sheikh Salman in fourth, the next three positions are currently filled by Bison Reem Racing team-mates Bandar Alireza, Raed Abuzenadah, and Faisal Binladen who has a 100 per cent winning record in the Mobil 1 Trophy for rookies and true amateur drivers.

He again faces competition from Bahrain-based Dutchman, Jaap Vandrager and from Saudi businessman Fawaz Al Gosaibi.

Completing the line-up are Al Gosaibi's teenage son, Fahad, who made history at the start of the series by becoming the the youngest driver to compete in a Porsche worldwide, and Abu Dhabi's Khaled Al Qubaisi.

-source: pcc me

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