Int. one-make series newsletter 36_2017 - kausi 2018 alkoi Bahrainissa (Challenge Middle East)
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East
November 17-18, 2017 Sakhir / Bahrain
Kuwait?s Zaid Ashkanani wins opening race of the season with Tom Oliphant winning Race 2 in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Season 9
In the build-up to the opening weekend of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East in Bahrain, the championship hosted its annual Night of Champions, a perfect way to launch the start of the new season.
The prestigious evening offered moments to savour for all drivers but especially last season?s champion Ryan Cullen of Ireland, Oman?s Silver category winner Al Faisal Al Zubair and Bronze category winner Magnus Ohman of Sweden, who were all presented their trophies.
On the same weekend as the Night of Champions, which took place the weekend before the opening round, testing sessions took place and marked the start of an exciting new era as the most successful and professional racing series in the region combined forces for the first time with next generation of the world?s best-selling race car.
In addition to welcoming the new car, Season 9 will introduce a host of new drivers to the championship. Nine different nationalities lined up for the opening race on the 17th November in Bahrain, including seven racers making their series debut stretching from Scotland to South Africa.
Round 1 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East got underway as part of the prestigious WEC weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir. In the much-anticipated opening race of the season and delivering a flawless drive from pole to chequered flag, Kuwaiti driver Zaid Ashkanani took the opening win of the championship and the first victory ever in a new generation GT3 Cup car in the region.
Under the lights at Bahrain International Circuit, Ashkanani returned to the championship he won back in 2014. Clocking some quick laps, the UK?s Tom Oliphant attempted to reduce the gap Ashkanani created, but the Kuwaiti showed his fellow Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup driver some impressive defence skills to race away and take the win.
Speaking after his win, Zaid Ashkanani said: ?It was the perfect return to the championship for me; qualifying in pole position and a strong start allowed me to create a good gap early on. There was a battle going on behind me for second place, so I used this to extend the lead further. Once out in front I knew that I had to concentrate on making no mistakes and getting the car across the line. Tom Oliphant managed to close the gap and put me under a bit of pressure towards the end, but I managed to keep my cool and finish with the win.?
Oman?s Al Faisal Al Zubair of Oman was back for a second consecutive season, and showed how much he?s learnt from his summer competing in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. Although the Omani teenager saw his quickest lap time in qualifying deleted due to a track limits infringement, he powered off the grid from his fourth-place start and was a contender for second by the first turn. He found himself in a battle with Tom Oliphant, Charlie Frijns and Fahad Algosaibi for second throughout lap one, but showed confidence to push ahead and take third which he maintained to the finish.
The first race of the new season showcased why Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East is the leading motorsport series in the region, marking the start of a bright new chapter for regional racing.
British driver Tom Oliphant took the second race of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Season 9 in one of the most intense battles for first place ever seen in the series.
Starting from fourth on the grid at Bahrain International Circuit today, Oliphant delivered a masterclass in overtaking as he passed all three drivers ahead of him in a show of persistence and patience.
Commenting on his first win in the championship, Tom Oliphant said: ?That is my first win ever in a Porsche, so to say I?m over the moon is an understatement. I woke up this morning feeling confident, like this was more of a race that I could win than the one last night. I don?t know why, but I knew that the extra heat during the day would help the tyres and I would be quick. It feels great to take first and second place this weekend and puts me in a strong position going into Round 2 in Dubai.?
After the opening race weekend, Walter Lechner, the owner of Lechner Racing, and founder and manager of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East said: ?It has been an action-packed weekend here in Bahrain and the perfect way to launch the new season and new Porsche GT3 Cup car to the Middle East. This weekend?s races have shown that there are many different drivers able to challenge for the podium in each category, and that is exactly what we want.
?Myself and the team are happy to have Season 9 of the championship underway and look forward to resuming the action in Dubai on the 8th and 9th December.?
For more information, please visit: www.gt3cupchallenge-me.com