Salman, Al Qubaisi show Abdulaziz he has big fight on his hands in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Porsche GT3 Cup champion under pressure as series heads back to Saudi Dubai. The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East returns to...
Salman, Al Qubaisi show Abdulaziz he has big fight on his hands in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East
Porsche GT3 Cup champion under pressure as series heads back to Saudi
Dubai. The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East returns to Saudi Arabia next month with Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal now in no doubt about the severity of the test he faces as he tries to retain his title.
After four rounds of the 2009-10 season, having won three races and finished a narrow second in the other, Abdulaziz held a 14-point championship lead and was beginning to look in a class of his own.
He went on to capture six more race victories and was crowned champion with two rounds to spare. Twelve months on, things are very different and the reigning champion is under pressure as he looks ahead to Rounds 5-6 taking place at Reem International Circuit outside Riyadh on January 19-20.
Bahrain's Sheikh Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa leads him by two points and Abu Dhabi's Khaled Al Qubaisi is on his tail in third place.
At the same stage last season, Salman was already 24 points adrift of the Prince in fourth position while Al Qubaisi was a lowly tenth. Both have made major improvements this season, as they showed during Rounds 3-4 at Bahrain International Circuit (December 2-3).
There was little to chose between the top five in qualifying, but it was Prince Abdulaziz who took pole position ahead of Sheikh Salman, teenager Fahad Algosaibi, fellow Saudi Bandar Alesayi and Al Qubaisi.
It was Sheikh Salman, however, who took the chequered flag in dramatic style, after Prince Abdulaziz lost and regained the lead in the first three laps, and eventually finished fifth.
His problems began when he spun off on the first lap, and while he was back in front two laps later gearbox problems took their toll and he gradually slipped back through the field.
Sheikh Salman had a winning margin of 6.784 seconds from Algosaibi, with Alesayi claiming the other podium place ahead of Al Qubaisi, whose Abu Dhabi team-mate, Musaed Al Murar, completed the top six and won the rookie's prize for the third race in succession.
Twenty four hours later, however, Prince Adulaziz underlined his determination to clinch a second successive title triumph. Starting from pole position again he moved into a six seconds lead from Al Qubaisi at the half way mark.
While Qubaisi piled on the pressure in the closing laps, Abdulaziz held on to win, with Algosaibi completing the podium and Sheikh Salman having to settle for fourth spot.
The 12-round series now returns to Reem where it made history last season as the first FIA sanctioned international circuit racing event to be staged in the Kingdom. The signs are that the title battle could this time go all the way to the finish.
-source: pcc me