Prince Abdulaziz extends Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East lead
Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal will head for Abu Dhabi next month carrying a big advantage in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East after scoring his second race victory in 24 hours and his third in four rounds today.
After setting the fastest time in official practice and then claiming his second successive pole position earlier in the day, Prince Abdulaziz eased away from Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifah to win round four of the series at Reem International Circuit, outside Riyadh.
With his cousin and team-mate, Prince Khalid al Faisal, claiming the third podium position, it was a memorable day for Saudi after the new one-make Porsche series had created history the previous afternoon as the first international circuit event ever to run in the Kingdom.
Prince Abdulaziz had one big scare, losing the lead to Sheikh Salman during a frantic multi-car battle from the start to reach the first corner, but he regained it at the same spot a lap later and gradually moved away to win by just over five-and-a-half seconds.
The drama unfolded before an estimated 3,000 spectators enjoying a carnival atmosphere at the twisting Reem circuit which is set against a backdrop of rolling red sand dunes.
Saudi ‘s Bandar Alesayi finished fourth from Abu Dhabi’s Khaled Al Qubaisi who produced his best performance of the series so far and is improving all the time, with another Saudi driver, Faisal Binladen, completing the top six.
Carried shoulder high by jubilant friends and supporters at the finish, Prince Abdulaziz said: “I had a really bad start when I kept to the inside and Sheikh Salman went past me on the outside. But I pushed hard at the start of the second lap and took my chance when it came.
“I was bit surprised that I was able to build such a lead, but I pushed a lot and I think I deserved it. Now I’m looking forward to Abu Dhabi.”
It all added up to a dominant performance from Prince Abdulaziz, who had started the two-day “Speed Weekend” sharing the championship lead with Prince Khalid, and finished it holding a 14-point advantage.
Starting the race holding third place in the championship, Saudi’s Bandar Alireza made an early exit after a collision on lap three with 16-year old Fahad Algosaibi who survived but finished at the back of the field.
After making an impressive start in Bahrain last month and having gained momentum in Saudi, the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East now has a double date at Abu Dhabi’s spectacular Yas Marina Circuit on 5-6 February and 19-20 February.