The strongest grid in the history of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East took to the Losail International Circuit ahead of preparations for Round 9 under the lights in Doha.
With the fourth season of the series being one of the closest in the championships history, with Al Nabooda Racings Clemens Schmid and Abdulaziz AlFaisal battling it out for supremacy, drivers arrived at Losail, on the outskirts of Doha, looking to familiarise themselves with the 5.380km circuit in readiness for the penultimate weekend of racing.
Losail circuit floodlights will add a new element to proceeding but it was the windy conditions and sand on the track that welcomed drivers as final testing got under way ahead of Rounds 9 and 10.
The first female driver to race in the history of the championship, Denmark’s Christina Nielsen said the windy condition made for difficult driving. She said: “I did not expect the wind to be so strong and it brought lot sand onto the track. The more time we had on the track the easier it got. I got used to the environment and it was not as difficult as my first session where I had a spin, so you can imagine the track conditions. Hopefully the wind will calm and the sand will clear by qualifying and Round 9 and we do not have to tackle the elements.”
Schmid, who is leading the championship over Abdulaziz AlFaisal by six points, echoed the sentiments of Nielsen and hoped the conditions will improve.
With four wins in a row leading into Qatar, Schmid added: “I recorded some good times during testing, but I drove with a lot of caution as the strong winds and the sand on the track made it quite difficult for the tyres to get a grip. Hopefully we will not have to encounter the same conditions during qualifying and the race, or else it will be a very interesting day.”
Walter Lechner, Manager of Porsche Gt3 Cup Challenge Middle East said: “The conditions took us all by surprise. But the weather conditions are one of the factors the drivers have to tackle if they are to compete and win. The conditions were very difficult today, especially the sand on the track. Hopefully they will improve by the time the qualifying rounds and Round 9 begins. Never the less, it will be an absorbing race with plenty of action.”
Porsche racing enthusiasts are encouraged to enjoy the adrenaline fuelled action from the grandstands at 4.00pm on both days as the first practice session gets under way, followed by qualifying and main event, Rounds 9 and 10, with races expected to get underway at approximately 8.40pm.