Saudi Falcons duo of Abdulaziz AlFaisal and Faisal Binladen once again familiarised themselves with their home circuit as testing got underway at the Reem International Circuit ahead of Rounds 7 and 8 in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, the region’s most exciting and professional race series.
The Saudi duo, part of one of the strongest grids in the history of the championship, took to the 3.2 KM circuit for the first time after the winter break with four one-hour practice sessions.
Home favourite and current championship leader, AlFaisal arrived at the venue looking to extend his small lead over Austrian Clemens Schmid, who won back-to-back rounds, the last time the leading one-make series was in action in Dubai.
Looking back on his opening test sessions AlFaisal said: “The conditions were tough today. There was no grip on the tyres due to sand on the circuit. It is a tough circuit but one the drivers will enjoy because of the long and windy straights, which allows you to maintain a consistent speed. But it is great to be back in action after a seven week lay-off. If the conditions remain the same, I expect two very interesting but tough rounds.”
Team-mate Binladen, currently second in the Silver Michelin Trophy, is looking forward to race day as he produced some of the fastest times in testing.
Binladen, who will be performing in front of his adoring fans said after testing: “It is always a privilege driving on your home circuit, in front of 10,000 fans. It gives you an extra confidence boost and makes you want to perform that much better.”
“I have a decent record at Reem and I want to moved higher up the table and also put pressure on Zaid Ashkanani for the Silver Michelin Trophy,” added Binladen.
The youngest driver on the circuit and one of the finds of the season, Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani, was excited with his first outing on the circuit despite the sandy conditions which meant the drivers did not have a good grip.
The 18-year-old, currently in fourth position, shared the views of other drivers as far as the track was concerned. He added: “It is by far the fastest track we have raced on this season. The sandy conditions will make it a tough race as we do not have the grip on the tyres that we would like, but I am assured that I will produce two quality rounds of racing to push me higher up the championship table.”
Walter Lechner, Manager of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East said: “It is great to be back after the winter break and I believe we will witness one of the closest championship finishes in the history of the series. It is moments like this that drivers practice hard and come into motorsport. With over 10,000 spectators expected for both days, we are in for two fantastic races this weekend.”
Qualifying and racing for Round 7 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East are scheduled to take place on Wednesday 6th February at Reem International Circuit.