Winners of the opening race of the round two of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East during the podium ceremony yesterday.
By Sports Reporter/Riyadh
Doha-based driver Charlie Frijns of Team Frijns Structural Steel Middle East has got back into contention for the drivers title in Season 7 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East following a third place finish in the opening race of Round 2 at Al Reem International Circuit in Riyadh.
After a under power performance in the opening round in Bahrain Charlie Frijns was keen to make a mends in the first of two weekend races as the region’s leading one-make series made its long awaited return to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the first time in over two years.
The youthful Frijns who typically races alongside his father and teammate Rob Frijns had qualified in third place earlier in the day by setting a very quick time on the wind swept Saudi track. It was a credible display on the challenging track located just outside Riyadh especially considering the Qatar star’s limited experience on the highly technical circuit.
Al Reem International Circuit is known for demanding a good grid position to reach the podium thanks to few overtaking opportunities and third on the grid was the basis for Frijns strong result.
Speaking after the race third placed Charlie Frijns said: “There was a part of the race where I had a small dip in concentration and made some mistakes. But towards the end of the race I found myself pretty comfortable in the car and managed to finish well in third place. It is good to score some points after the last round in Bahrain. Now I just need to work harder and get as many points as I can from moving forward to close the gap on the leaders.”
After a good start from the second row on the grid, Frijns was heaping the pressure on second placed Ashkanani and did everything he could to close the gap over the seventeen lap race. But as the race developed he found himself doing more defending of his position from fourth placed local hero Abdulaziz al-Faisal.
In the end, Frijns maintained his starting position to hold out for an all-important podium spot and valuable points that take him ninth overall in the driver standings. Ahead of Frijns it was a perfect day out in the Saudi sun for Dubai’s Al Nabooda Racing who claiming first and second placed finishes as Jeffrey Schmidt secured his third straight victory in the first three races of Season 7. After dominating the season so far and from the front row of the grid in Race 1 of Round 2, new teammates Jeffrey Schmidt and Zaid Ashkanani proved a formidable force to calmly take the top two steps on the podium. Schmidt who has been in invincible form won by a gap of 0.893 seconds over the seventeen lap race ahead of Kuwaiti teammate Ashkanani in second. Schmidt (75 points) is now twelve points clear at the top of the individual driver standings after three races, leading from Ireland’s Ryan Cullen (63 points) and Zaid Ashkanani of Kuwait third (61 points).
In the race for the team championship Al Nabooda Racing (136 points) are now thirty-three points clear of Dubai rivals Skydive Dubai Falcons (103 points) with newcomers AlFaisal Racing in third (84 points).
Speaking after extending his winning record with victory in Saudi Arabia Al Nabooda Racing’s Jeffrey Schmidt said: “It was a really good race for me and feels great to get a competitive victory. It was a team effort and hopefully we can repeat that tomorrow. It is very sandy out there, the conditions are difficult and the track is very slippery. Every lap was hard, and I had to really concentrate not to make any mistakes.
“I managed to keep hold of the lead and I am very happy to win again for the team. It was also great to share the podium with Zaid (Ashkanani).”
Regarded as the purest form of racing with all drivers competing in identical fifth generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cups, the unique one-make series will consist of 12 races between November 2015 and March 2016.
Race 2 will take place today at 4pm.
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