The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East will create its own chapter of motor racing history when the region’s headline series makes a spectacular night-time debut at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit next month.
It will be the first Porsche GT3 Cup night racing event staged anywhere in the world since the one-make championship was introduced seven years ago, running initially in Brazil, New Zealand, and the US.
At the same time, a guaranteed starting line-up of at least 18 cars for Rounds 9 and 10 on March 2-3 will be the biggest since the Middle East version of the Porsche GT3 Cup series was launched in December 2009.
The Losail circuit’s permanent outdoor lighting will add a new dimension to the 12-round championship as the 2011-12 season heads towards its climax, and there is plenty of excitement in store for competitors and spectators alike.
“All of the drivers, and everyone else connected with the Porsche GT3 Cup series, are genuinely excited about our first visit to Qatar,” said Walter Lechner, owner of Lechner Racing, who run the championship on behalf of Porsche Middle East and Africa.
“This is something that we’ve been looking forward to ever since we started planning this championship several years ago, and we’re especially pleased to be racing at night for the first time, thanks to the fantastic lighting system at Losail.”
Lechner confirmed that Qatar’s Abdul Rahman Al Thani will make his Porsche GT3 Cup debut at Losail, joining Saadon Al Kuwari and Doha-based team-mates Rob Frijns and Manfred Ender on the starting grid.
While Saudi Arabia’s Abdulaziz Al Faisal looks to be heading for his second Porsche GT3 Cup title success in three years, former Qatar rally champion Al Kuwari, whose son Abdulaziz won last month’s Qatar International Rally, holds a strong lead in the Michelin Silver Trophy for the intermediate class.
Meanwhile, Dutchman Frijns and Austrian Ender are both contesting the Mobil 1 Trophy for rookies or drivers over the age of 45.
The full driver line-up for Qatar will be announced shortly, and it will be headed by leader Abdulaziz, and also feature Saudi drivers Bandar Alesayi and Saeed Al Mouri, currently lying second and third in the championship, and fourth-placed Clemens Schmid, who has three race wins to his credit this season.
“One of the big attractions of the Porsche GT3 Cup series is that we have gold, silver and bronze categories for each driver to fit into, depending on their level of experience and commitment to racing,” said Lechner. “While it’s a series that accommodates professional racing drivers at the top end, we also have two other levels, and the silver and bronze categories are equally competitive in their own right, making it a very exciting and interesting championship overall.”
The “arrive and drive” nature of the series, which means competitors simply turn up at the track, swap their day clothes for a race suit, and jump behind the wheel of one of the latest Porsche GT3 Cup cars, is a major attraction for those who have limited time for race preparation or practice. “We have a first-class team of race engineers, technicians and mechanics, and we’re looking forward to welcoming more Qatari drivers into the championship because we believe we have a great deal more to offer than any other race series in the region,” said Lechner.