Austria’s Clemens Schmid has won the season opening of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge in a race that marked outstanding performances and a torquey contesting spirit, the strongest grid ever assembled at the season’s start at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.
After securing pole position in both the races, the 22-year-old Clemens Schmid, driving for Dubai’s Al Nabooda Racing won both the rounds, holding off challenges from rivals Abdulaziz AlFaisal of Saudi Arabia, who finished second in the first round and third in the second, as well as Al Nabooda teammate Karim Al-Azhari who came in third in the first round. The second position was claimed by Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa of Team Bahrain in Round 2.
Following his first victory Schmid said: “It was a very tough race with Abdulaziz making life difficult for me. I had a very bad start; I was down to third in the first corner. But I fought my way through and overtook AlFaisal and maintained my lead.”
Having lost the lead on the opening lap, the key moment of the race came in the ninth lap when Schmid managed to overtake the reigning champion with a bold move at the first corner. Then there was no looking back and the Austrian charged to win by 4.959 seconds.
In Round 1, starting and finishing in second place Saudi Falcons driver, Abdulaziz AlFaisal said: “My tires took a battering today which made it hard to keep consistency till the very end. Myself and Clemens were literally out in front the whole race. He just persisted and finally managed to get past me.”
Well, Schmid did well enough in the enthralling race that was filled by fierce head to head battles, UAE’s Karim Al-Azhari overcame a spirited return to racing for home favourite and former champion Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa who finished fourth for Team Bahrain. Kuwait’s 18-year-old sensation Zaid Ashkanani announced his arrival onto the scene claiming fifth and ‘Rookie of the Race’, with the first female to race in the championship, Denmark’s Christina Nielsen finishing sixth.
Round 2: Schmid 1st, Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa 2nd, AlFaisal 3rd
Clemens Schmid’s faultless performance saw him win both races in the opening weekend of the season with 8.133 seconds to spare between him and the runner up in the second round. He managed take his overall lead in the championship to six points over AlFaisal, by collecting two wins and forty points on the opening weekend. The 20-year old action woman Christina Nielsen secured a well-fought eighth position.
We can look forward to seeing them race in Season 4 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at the Yas Marina Circuit on the 7th and 8th December 2012. DriveME will bring you LIVE coverage of the race.