Posted on March 05, 2016

Qatar’s Charlie Frijns enjoyed another outstanding day of racing at the Bahrain International Circuit as he finished third in the opening race of the final round of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Season 7.

In dramatic afternoon of world-class motorsport involving the region’s leading drivers, the penultimate race of the acclaimed series witnessed the top two steps of the podium dominated by Al Nabooda Racing team’s dynamic duo of Zaid Ashkanani and Jeffrey Schmidt. For fans of the championship the sight of drivers from Al Nabooda Racing occupying the podium is a familiar one this season. However on this occasion is was former champion Zaid Ashkanani who out-qualified and out-shown his teammate Schmidt for the first time this season to claim maximum points, with Schmidt second.

Again Frijns showed a glimpse of his prodigious talent by recording the quickest time in qualifying to land his third pole position of the season. Yet despite best efforts Frijns found himself in second place as early as the first corner after failing to hold into his slim advantage off the line. As the race worn on Frijns was eventually reeled in and overtaken by championship leader Schmidt before finishing a credible third. The result means Frijns remains fifth in the overall championship standings but his podium finish in Bahrain takes him within seven points of fourth placed Abdulaziz AlFaisal.

Qatar’s Frijns races onto 1 [qatarisbooming.com].jpg

Speaking at the end of the race Frijns said:“I had a really bad start to the race and lost a position early on, I tried to close the gap on Zaid (Ashkanani) but he had a very fast start and continued to pull away in the first couple of laps. After 4 or 5 laps my tires were really wearing out and I was fighting with the car to hold on to the speed, Jeffery put a lot of pressure on me and managed to get past me late on, from there I just had to concentrate on keeping the car on the track and finishing in third.

“Tomorrow I need to prove myself again in qualifying to start at the front of the grid and then hope for a better performance in the race to stay at the front.” Ahead of Frijns Al Nabooda Racing endured some anxious moments as the two teammates battled for supremacy at the front. But it was exactly the outcome the team champions would have dreamt of. Both drivers eventually safely returned their cars ahead of rivals and Ashkanani starred to claim a well-deserved first race win of the season.

Despite the slight disappointment of not adding another race victory to his tally the result means Schmidt’s strong performance in second sees him take one step closer to the overall driver’s title. With only one race remaining the young driver in his debut season in the series remains a healthy 24 points ahead of Ashkanani in second and Ryan Cullen third in the standings. Today’s result means that Schmidt will be crowned champion tomorrow regardless of what happens ahead of him if he can avoid disaster and finish anywhere in the points in the final race.

Entering the final weekend the Kuwaiti star Ashkanani held only a slim chance of overcoming the odds and his teammate Schmidt. But right from qualifying and the opening corner of the race, the former champion showed his fighting qualifies. After starting from second on the grid Ashkanani dived into the lead on the tight right-hand corner and proceeded to control the race from the front despite Schmidt putting him under intense pressure in the final stages.

Speaking after the race win, a delighted Zaid Ashkanani said: “I am really happy with my performance today, it’s my first win of the season and it has felt like a long time coming. It was a very tough battle with my team mate Jeffery, he was really putting the pressure on me from behind but I managed to retain my position and finish in first. “It was the first time this season I qualified ahead of Jeffery which gave me a lot of confidence at the start of the race, I had a strong start and managed to hold on to the speed throughout the 12 laps. I am hoping for the same tomorrow and another win would be amazing for me.”

Qatar’s Frijns races onto 2 [qatarisbooming.com].jpg

After a long, competitive and enthralling season the final outcome of the driver’s championship across all three individual categories, gold, silver and bronze will now be decided tomorrow. Regarded as the purest form of racing,every lap and every corner of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East counts. Qualifying is split by hundredths of seconds and racing is pushed to the limits with driver talent and race craft the difference between winning and losing as all drivers competing in identical fifth generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cups.

The unique one-make series consists of 12 races between November 2015 and March 2016. Season 7 concludes at the illustrious Bahrain International Circuit between 4th and 5th March.

Overall Championship Standings

 

Name

Country

Team

Points

1st

Jeffrey Schmidt

UAE

Al Nabooda Racing

248

2nd

Zaid Ashkanani

KUW

Al Nabooda Racing

224

3rd

Ryan Cullen

IRL

Cullen Motorsport

210

4th

Abdulaziz AlFaisal

KSA

AlFaisal Racing

197

5th

Charlie Frijns

QAT

Frijns Structural Steel ME

190

6th

Saud AlFaisal

KSA

AlFaisal Racing

154

For the full race schedule, driver profiles or latest news on GT Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East please visit the official website: www.gt3cupchallenge-me.com or follow series’ news at www.facebook.com/porscheGT3CCME or on Twitter @PorscheGT3CCME.

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