After playing a patient waiting game to grab victory in Round 8 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, Abdulaziz Al Faisal has taken a major step towards his second driver’s title in three years.
The Saudi’s third win of the season on home territory prevented Austrian Clemens Schmid from dominating the race weekend at Reem International Circuit outside Riyadh, and extended his lead in the 12-round championship to 16 points over fellow-Saudi Bandar Alesayi.
After starting in pole position for the second time in 24 hours on Thursday, Round 7 winner Schmid looked like making it a double success in front of one of Saudi’s biggest ever motor racing crowds.
But a momentary lapse in concentration by the young Austrian on the tenth of 16 laps presented Abdulaziz with an opening which he gratefully accepted to take a tighter grip on the Porsche GT3 Cup series.
Making it an even better day for the Saudi Falcons, his team-mate Saeed Al Mouri produced a mature performance to finish third for his first podium place in the Porsche one-make series as an estimated 12,000 spectators enjoyed a busy programme of on and off-track events at Reem.
With Alesayi finishing fourth, Saudi’s Faisal Binladen and Swiss driver Armin Schmid completed the top six.
“To be honest, I didn’t think I had much chance of winning,” admitted Abdulaziz at the finish. “I knew that I needed Clemens to make a mistake, and so I just waited and that’s what happened.”
Seventh position allowed Qatar’s Saadon Al Kuwari to stay nine points ahead of Schmid in the Michelin Silver Trophy standings for the intermediate class, while German driver Hannes Waimer opened up a 12-point lead in the Mobil 1 Trophy for rookies or drivers over 45.
The Porsche GT3 Cup series now heads for Qatar for its debut at Losail International Circuit on March 2-3, with the final two rounds to follow at Bahrain International Circuit on March 30-31.