UAE-based Jeffrey Schmidt extends winning streak to six at Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East
UAE-based Jeffrey Schmidt took maximum points in both Race 1 and Race 2 of Round 3 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at Yas Marina Circuit on Friday extending his lead in the drivers’ standings and helping Al Nabooda Racing to push further ahead in the team competition.
Round 3 marked the region’s leading one-make race series’ long-awaited return to Yas Marina Circuit after a three-year absence from the famed home of the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The stunning track is known for its technical turns and long straights which allow for plenty of overtaking opportunities.
Despite failing to reach his usual form in the early practice sessions, Schmidt blitzed both qualifying sessions and continued his ownership of pole position. As soon as the lights went out at Yas Marina Circuit, Schmidt led both races with tight lines and huge confidence.
The result leaves Schmidt with maximum points in the championship so far after having taken victory in every race. It edges the Al Nabooda Racing man further towards the drivers and team championships but also towards a new record where for the first time, the series could have a driver who wins every races.
“The whole aim was to win, that’s what we set out for and yes I am very happy to get the first victory of this year,” Schmidt said. “It’s been a perfect season so far and I would love to continue like that so keeping focus and consistency is essential.
“I saw the battle behind me for P2 and it was quite interesting and being out in front I obviously missed out on any dogfighting. It’s great to win but so much of the enjoyment of racing is being pitted against other drivers and scrapping through a race. Overall though the end result was what I was looking for and I am very pleased for myself and for the team”
After securing pole position with the fastest lap in qualifying for Race 1, Schmidt showed all his class to hold off the challenges of an experience pack in a blistering start. The UAE-resident leading into turn one with the pack as they were when the lights went out.
Lap 1 saw much of the action with Zaid Ashkanani staking a claim for a higher podium spot as he squeezed past Bandar Alesayi into second while Abdulaziz AlFaisal also managed to get the better of a slightly out of sorts Ryan Cullen to take fourth.
A challenging opening saw Charlie Frijns and Wolfgang Triller lose out with Magnus Ohman and KSA’s Saud Al Faisal, the Saudi driver looking to extend his lead in the silver category.
As the drivers reached the middle stages of the race, KSA’s Alesayi managed to claim back second focusing Ashkanani down to third while Charlie Frijns mounted a recovery at the expense of Ohman with the Qatari resident back up eighth.
As Cullen desperately battled to gain on Abdulaziz Al Faisal in the middle of the pack only Frijns was able to move up, this time to seventh, one place behind his starting position, P6.
As the closing stages approached the drivers resisted any desperate attempts and the final laps were seen out with no changes in position.
It was more of the same in Race 2 from championship leader Schmidt, who powered to his sixth consecutive victory of Season 7 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East with yet another pole-to-chequered flag victory.
Building a reputation as the best starter in the series Schmidt’s rivals were unable to make any ground on the UAE resident in an opening lap which saw little movement on the tight track aside from the progress of Ryan Cullen, the Irishman missing qualifying two after a clutch problem earlier in the day.
Starting from the back of the pack, Cullen soared up an impressive six places in the early stages at the expense of Bandar Alesayi, Magnus Ohman, Wolfgang Triller and Saud Al Faisal who was forced from the track, costing him three places.
The early drama was exceeded as a thrilling bumper to bumper contest played out between Charlie Frijns and Abdulaziz Al Faisal, with the Qatari-based driver pressuring hard from fourth as Schmidt and Ashkanani extending their leads in first and second position respectively.
With just four laps to go Frijns finally found a way past the former champion and into the podium spot, finishing the weekend of racing on a sensational high.
Regarded as the purest form of racing with all drivers competing in identical fifth generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cups, the unique one-make series consists of 12 races between November 2015 and March 2016.
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East now heads to Dubai for two rounds across January and February, closely followed by the return to Bahrain in early March which is set to be a thrilling end to Season 7.
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Updated: January 22, 2016 04:00 AM