Doha: Qatar’s first encounter with the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East was a landmark occasion from the start, and a weekend of spectacular racing under the lights of the Losail International Circuit saw Abdul Aziz Al Faisal clinch the title earlier than expected.
Al Faisal had arrived in Doha in a commanding position, but fully expected that he would need two more rounds in Bahrain at the end of the month to ensure his second Porsche GT3 Cup triumph in three years.
Instead, the Saudi found himself celebrating on a bitterly cold Saturday night at Losail after a first corner disaster in round 10 of the 12-round one-make series took his only remaining challenger, Bandar Al Esayi, out of the race.
By that point, Al Faisal had already squeezed ahead of Clemens Schmid, who had started in pole position for the second time in 24 hours, although the young Austrian driver fought back to claim his fourth victory of the season.
Given an unassailable championship lead, thanks to his second position on the night, Abdul Aziz was followed home by Oman’s Ahmad Al Harthy in third, and for the second night in succession Qatar was able to celebrate a double success.
Just as they had done in round nine the previous evening, Saadon Al Kuwari topped the intermediate class Michelin Silver Trophy, while fellow-countryman Abdul Rahman Al Thani took victory in the bronze category Mobil 1 Trophy, the two Qataris finishing fifth and eighth.
Al Esayi’s early first lap collision with Karim Al Azhari also dropped the UAE driver from contention, although he recovered to finish round 10 and came away from Qatar with his reputation enhanced by a first podium finish in the series the previous night on only his third Porsche GT3 Cup outing.
Championship standings after Round 10:
- 1. Abdul Aziz Al Faisal (Saudi Arabia) Saudi Falcons 186pts
- 2. Bandar Al Esayi (Saudi Arabia) Saudi GT Racing 144
- 3. Saeed Al Mouri (Saudi Arabia) Saudi Falcons 128
- 4. Clemens Schmid (AUT) 126
- 5. Ahmad Al Harthy (OM) Oman Air Racing 108
- 6. Saadon Al Kuwari (QA) 88
- 7. Stephane Lemeret (BEL) Al Nabooda Racing 86
- 8. Armin Schmid CH Team TCE 67
- 9. Hannes Waimer (GER) Team TCE 50
- 10. Karim Al Azhari (UAE) Al Nabooda Racing 43