Al Nabooda Racing’s Clemens Schmid has positioned himself as the man to beat with three rounds of the region’s most competitive racing series, the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East complete, but with three more thrilling instalments still to come Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani is hopeful he can upset the UAE resident and secure a second championship title.
Having won five races out of six in the series so far, Clemens Schmid has amassed a ten point lead in the Drivers’ Standings ahead of his closest rival, Ashkanani. A former champion in Season 4, Schmid has the pedigree and experience to be crowned champion once again and will be eager to make amends after losing out in Season 5.
However, Schmid’s experience last year will give him little comfort with the lead he holds over the young Kuwaiti. At this stage in Season 5 the Al Nabooda man was a full 24 points ahead and ended up finishing runner up by a single point to the teenager Ashkanani.
Speaking at the halfway stage of Season 6 Zaid Ashkanani said: “It’s been a really exciting season to be a part of. I’m enjoying my racing a lot and it’s a very sporting rivalry which I have with Clemens. He is a great competitor and we are pushing each other to get better and better. Of course I respect him but when it comes to the championship, I want to win and that means beating him. He has a bit of a lead on me at the moment in the standings but it was even bigger last year so I have every reason to stay positive and keep looking for that opportunity to take victory.”
With a mutual respect between the two drivers, where both are well aware of what the other can produce, the remainder of the season is set to be a thrilling scrap to the very end with the ultimate celebration in store.
Adding further to the excitement of season’s second half organizers recently confirmed that the final round of Season 6 will be a fitting finale taking place as a support race to the Bahrain Grand Prix. Should the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East come down to the last race as it did last season’s it could mean the champion is crowned in front of packed stands with international spectators as well as potential Formula 1 talent scouts.
Walter Lechner, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East manager, said: “At this stage of the season I don’t think it’s ever been so close so it’s exciting and competitive. The level of competition which the drivers are becoming accustomed to through the series of the highest level and it is forcing them to driver faster, honing their skills further. The season started in the best possible way, with a thrilling opening round in Bahrain and it has been extremely tight ever since. Of course last year’s result shows that consistency and concentration are key to winning. No one could have predicted that Zaid (Ashkanani) would come through and win the title as his did last year but he has shown a path to success and now all the drivers will believe they are capable of doing the same. It generates a huge amount of excitement for everyone, especially those taking part.”
With another half of the season still to go the drivers have everything to race for starting in Qatar next weekend. With just 26 points separating the top three and 25 points available for a race win every driver knows that a good race and a bit of luck could see them climb the standings.
The region’s leading drivers will line-up in the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup again as the star attractions at Losail International Circuit for Race 1 and Race 2 of Round 4 on the 5th and 6th of February.
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.
Overall championship standings after Round 3 – Top 6