Qatar-based, father and son duo Rob and Charlie Frijns will compete in the opening round of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Season 7 and share the limelight during a special weekend of celebration for Porsche as Bahrain International Circuit plays host to FIA World Endurance Championship’s finale (WEC).
The young Frijns will be looking to make a strong start to what is sure to be a competitive season and has already given diehard fans at Sakhir a taste of his pace, posting the fastest time in early practice. The early times suggest Season 7 could be one of the most closely fought instalments of the GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East series ever, and have already set an early tone for a thrilling weekend of Porsche motorsport action.
The Frijns drivers of team ‘Frijns Steel Structures Middle East’ based in Doha, will join elite Porsche works drivers such as Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber who have descended upon the desert kingdom’s track at Sakhir on mass with much to celebrate. The leading sports car manufacturer recently reinforced its credentials with further success on the race track at the highest level by clinching its first manufacturers’ world championship since 1986.
After securing the 2015 WEC constructors’ title in the LMP1 class following the penultimate round in Shanghai, Porsche now have sights on adding the drivers’ championship and a potential four titles in total across the WEC season. It is a fitting finale and the ultimate showpiece for endurance racers.
But as one series comes to an end with Porsche to the forefront another is just about to start with the most talented drivers from the region setting their sights on the most prized title in Middle East racing.
For Qatar’s Frijns double-act and racing rivals Schmidt, Ashkanani, AlFaisal and this weekend signals the start of a new challenge and the seventh season of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Season. It’s another reason to celebrate and the perfect example of Porsche’s commitment to motorsport in the region. Speaking on the eve of the opening race, Qatar based driver Charlie Frijns said:
“I couldn’t think of a better way to start my own season than to be amongst the action and excitement of the climax to the World Endurance Championship. Porsche have had an incredible season dominating from the front in the 919 Hybrids and getting a historic win at Le Mans. As someone who has raced in a Porsche series for several years you can only take pride in those achievements and be inspired to push yourself.
“When surrounded by the quality of drivers that Porsche has in the WEC, even with my experience I still want to learn all I can and see if I can add anything to my own driving technique. After all we’ll be on the same track! Naturally it could be easy to get distracted this weekend but I’ll be very focused for qualifying and our races. It’s important to start the season well and I want to build on the good starts and progress I’ve made here. I’ll be aiming for the podium.”
Over the past seven seasons Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East has developed into proven pathway for regional drivers to accelerate their careers on to the biggest stages of racing through intense competition with global motorsport professionals. Much of its success as a standalone series and incubator of regions talent is founded in the efforts of motorsport legend and manager of the Middle East championship, Walter Lechner of Lechner Racing.
Speaking ahead of the landmark seventh season, Walter Lechner said: “Porsche has been proudly racing at the Bahrain International Circuit for over a decade. It’s been a remarkable journey from those early days to present times. To witness Porsche winning the WEC constructors’ championship while also seeing the GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East recognized as the vital lifeblood of professional racing in the region feels me with great pride. I’m honoured to be associated with this great success story and even more proud of the achievements that the drivers emerging from this championship have achieved.
“The technology Porsche has developed for sports cars in this period is quite outstanding. Yet as a driver myself I can see similar strides have been made by those behind the wheel. The driving talent emerging from this region is at an entirely new level. In our time over the past six seasons 62 drivers of 19 different nationalities have participated in the series.
“I remember vividly the first race and series we organized back in December 2009. It also started right here in Bahrain. That first race and eventually the championship was won by Abdulaziz AlFaisal. In our second season hometown hero Sheikh Salman Al Khalifa was our champion so it’s very poignant that he returns to complete a full grid this weekend. Having seen this championship grow from humble roots there is so much to look back upon but as this weekend will prove we even more to look forward to.”
Drivers from Bahrain, UAE, Kuwait, KSA and Europe are all set to participate with as many as seven nationalities expected to line up for Race 1. 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.
Round 2 of the series will travel to Al Reem International Circuit in Saudi Arabia for the first time in two years, in early December. Three UAE rounds in a row will kick start the New Year across January and February before the return to Bahrain for the climactic conclusion to Season 7 in early March.
Round 1 of Season 7 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East takes place at Bahrain International Circuit on the 20th and 21st of November 2015. On Friday 20th November qualifying for Race 1 takes place at 10:10am, Race 2 qualifying at 14:25 ahead of the first race of the championship at 18:10. The second race of the opening round is scheduled for 12:00 on Saturday 21st November.
For the latest news on the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East please visit the official website: www.gt3cupchallenge-me.com or follow the series’ news at www.facebook.com/porscheGT3CCME, on Twitter @PorscheGT3CCME and on Instagram @PorscheGT3CCM.
The 2015-2016 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East race schedule is:
Race 1- 20th Nov 2015
Race 2- 21st Nov 2015
Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain
Round 2 –
Race 3- 4th Dec 2015
Race 4- 5th Dec 2015
Al Reem International Circuit, KSA
Race 5 – 22nd Jan 2016
Race 6 – 22nd Jan 2016
Yas Marina Circuit, UAE
Race 7- 29th Jan 2016
Race 8- 30th Jan 2016
Dubai Autodrome, UAE
Race 9 – 19th Feb 2016
Race10 – 19th Feb 2016
Dubai Autodrome, UAE
Race 11 – 4th March 2016
Race 12 – 5th March 2016
Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain