Saudi Prince wins opening Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East
Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal earned a place in the record books as the first ever race winner in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East as the new regional motor racing series got off to a dramatic start at Bahrain International Circuit today.
Making it a double celebration, his cousin and team-mate Prince Khalid Al Faisal took second place in the first of 12 rounds that make up the one-make series, with Bandar Alireza finishing third to give Saudi a clean-sweep of the podium positions.
The race brought bitter disappointment both for Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman Bin Rashid Al Khalifa, who had started in pole position, and Fahad Algosaibi, the 16-year-old Saudi who was making history as the youngest driver to compete in a Porsche worldwide.
In the race from the start to the first corner, second fastest qualifier Algosaibi edged his way ahead of Sheikh Salman who almost immediately had to pull off the track with mechanical problems which put him out of the race.
But before he had time to enjoy his lead, Algosaibi too became a casualty when he lost control of his car on corner 13 and smashed into the crash barrier.
The launch of the one-make series, sponsored by Michelin and Mobil 1, marked the worldwide debut of the 2010 model Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, and after heavy early morning rain the Bahrain Grand Prix Circuit dried out quickly to create ideal conditions.
Prince Abdulaziz was briefly put under pressure by Prince Khalid but was soon pulling away and eventually cruised to victory with just over 13 seconds to spare.
Abu Dhabi’s Khaled Al Qubaisi had looked to be on his way to a podium finish as he held third place with two laps remaining, but a brush with Alireza saw him spin and puncture a tyre and the incident dropped him from contention.
Making it a memorable day of racing for Saudi, three other drivers from the Kingdom, Bandar Alesayi, Raed Abuzenadah and Faisal Binladen, completed the top six.
In a jubilant mood at the finish, Prince Abdulaziz said: “This means a lot because we have been waiting for this series to happen for the last five years, and it’s fantastic to get the one-two finish for the team. The car is amazing – a lot better than last year’s – and this is a great way to start. Tomorrow is another day though so we’ll see what happens.”