Al-Attiyah races to fifth straight win in Bahrain

Qatar’s Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah won his fifth consecutive race in the Silver Michelin category to move joint third in his Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East group after finishing eighth in Race 1 of Round 6 at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Starting fifth on the 20-car grid, al-Attiyah made a great start on the tight inner-circuit and kept his position in the early stages before losing ground to Al Nabooda Racing’s Karim al-Azhari and Hasher al-Maktoum, eventually finishing the race in eighth. The race was won by Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani who extended his lead by five points over Clemens Schmid.

The result means al-Attiyah, who has five consecutive wins in the group, goes into the final race of the season looking to secure silverware in the Silver Michelin category of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.

Speaking after his first race on the Bahrain International Circuit, al-Attiyah said: “I am so happy to have won my fifth consecutive race in the category and I have a fantastic chance to claim the runner-up spot. It will be a fascinating day as the gold and team title are still up for grabs. It was my debut race in Bahrain and it was an amazing experience as I am still learning and preparing for next season.”

”My aim since I joined was to be competitive but I have done more than that and put myself in contention for a trophy. Rob Frijns has been driving brilliantly all season and using all his experience but I will put will be pushing him all the way and hopefully claim the runner-up prize in the category,” added al-Attiyah.

Race 1 produced an absorbing encounter with positions changing regularly between the top six.  Frijns took full advantage of Ashkanani’s poor start, jumping from second to first in the opening lap with Mehairi moving ahead of the Kuwaiti into second. Ashkanani bided his time until lap seven where he regained, taking advantage of mistakes made by Frijns and al-Mehairi to ensure control of the race.

Once in control, Ashkanani kept his nemesis Schmid at bay to win the race by 3.115 seconds and move five points clear in the title showdown with one race to go.

The battle to finish in the top six in the penultimate race of the season was just as exciting as the top half of the table. Skydive Dubai Falcons went into the race looking to close the gap on Saudi Falcons in the Team title category and duly obliged to the challenge. Despite moving into second at once stage of the race al-Mehairi finished fourth with Al Nabooda Racing’s al-Azhari finished fifth to help team-mate close in on the team title.

Gold category standings (Top three)

1. Zaid Ashkanani (Buzaid GT)    224

2. Clemens Schmid (Al Nabooda)                   219

3. Abdulaziz al-Faisal (Saudi Falcons)         210

Silver category standings (Top three)

1. Antonio Giancola (Dravya-MACOM)        90

2. Hannes Waimer (Team TCE)                        86

3. Rob Frijns (Frijns Structural Steel ME)   57

3. Nasser al-Attiyah (QMMF)      57

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