This weekend the region’s leading drivers will compete in the final round of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Season 6 as part of the official 2015 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit with the driver’s and team championship title winners still to be determined.
For those local racing drivers with a chance of winning it is a huge opportunity to both collect silverware in the Middle East’s only professional series and enhance reputations in front of some of motorsport’s most influential people. It is the ultimate test.
Team Bahrain’s Porsche drivers Raed Raffii and Jaber Al Khalifa know they will have to be at their very best on the biggest stage of all while controlling emotions, nerves and adrenaline.
Entering the final round Raffii currently sits third in his Silver category just 12 points (138) ahead of KSA’s Fahad Algosaibi (122) with the young Bahraini fully aware that he must deliver a strong weekend if he is to claim a top three finish in his category in the Season 6 finale.
Speaking ahead of practice, Walter Lechner, Manager of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East said: “For drivers and fans of local motorsport this Porsche series has served up the ideal scenario. Ten years ago Porsche first supported the F1 in Bahrain. So it’s very special to now have the deciding final round of a dedicated Middle East championship witnessed by full grandstands as the world of motorsport looks on.
“This is when drivers will feel the pressure and whoever can handle that pressure best will be victorious. For some who embrace the opportunity it will be a dream scenario, sadly for others it could feel like a nightmare. But this is when the best standout. Whoever wins will deserve it.”
As an official support race official 2015 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix driver track time will be hugely reduced compared to usual Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East weekends. The Porsche drivers will have to share the track with both Formula 1 and GP2 series, resulting in only one practice and one qualifying session for both races. Adding further intensity to the pressure faced by drivers and teams.
Speaking ahead of practice Raed Raffi said: “Everything is on the limit this weekend. Pressure is increased to its maximum yet time to prepare on the track is reduced. The positive for me is that this is my home track and filled with my home crowds. To be driving in front of them at the biggest stage of all is very exciting. I can’t wait. It’s going to be a tough race in a pressure cooker environment but these are the moments we live for and it’s the time to step up. Honestly I’m really really excited and looking forward to it.”
For veteran crowd favourite Jaber Al Khalifa the race represents a significant milestone. Ten years ago he raced for Porsche in the support race for the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2005 and is thrilled to be getting back on the track as part of this weekend’s Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Season 6 finale.
Speaking ahead of first practice Jaber Al Khalifa said: “The atmosphere down here is very special and it’s great to be back in the action for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East. With the season coming to a climax this weekend the excitement levels are through the roof with the F1 also in town. For me it’s particularly special as I look back on 2005 when I took part in the same race so to be able to do the same in 2015 is a real blessing.”
A thrilling season finale to decide the driver’s and team championships of the sixth season lies ahead with the opening race of the final round scheduled for 16.30 on Saturday 18th April. The second race of Round 6 and final race of the season will be held at 15:30 on Sunday 19th April ahead of the 2015 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.
Overall championship standings ahead after Race 2, Round 5 – Top 6
Overall Team Title standings after Race 2, Round 5 – Top 6