Bahrain’s championship leader, Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa, aims to give his title hopes a double boost in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East on home territory at the weekend.
Carrying a six-point lead into Rounds 7 and 8 at Bahrain International Circuit on Friday and Saturday, Sheikh Salman has set his sights firmly on back-to-back victories to bring the championship within reach.
Two race wins within the space of 24 hours would give him at least a 10-point lead over Saudi Arabia’s defending champion, Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal.
It would also mean that Salman could go on to clinch the Porsche GT3 Cup title without needing to finish higher than second in any of the remaining four rounds, in Bahrain on March 25-26, and at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit two weeks later.
The mathematics of racing, however, will be at the back of his mind as the Bahraini looks to build on what has been, for him, a disappointing record in the series on his home track.
While he won Round 3 in Bahrain in December, he failed to finish his first race in the championship on the circuit last season and did not make the podium on either of his two other Porsche GT3 Cup visits.
“My focus is on winning races,” he said. “I don’t think too much about the points. My aim is to get the best out of myself, and then the rest takes care of itself.
“Obviously I want to do well in Bahrain but I don’t feel under any extra pressure. I do have a feeling that this could be my year and I’m confident. But we’re only at the halfway stage in the season and there is still a long way to go yet.”
While Salman and Abdulaziz are the only two drivers to have scored race wins this season, with three victories each to their credit, both have acknowledge the threat from the three other members of the top five - Abu Dhabi’s Khaled Al Qubaisi, Bahrain-based teenager Fahad Algosaibi and Saudi’s Bandar Alesayi.
Placed second and third in Rounds 3 and 4 in Bahrain back in December, Algosaibi wanted to go one better at the weekend, but he has been ruled out of action after breaking his left hand during a football training session.
Meanwhile, Al Qubaisi who finished runner-up to Abdulaziz in Round 4, is anxious to close the gap on the top two to give himself a fighting chance when the title race reaches its climax on his home circuit in Abu Dhabi.
Championship positions after six rounds
1. Salman Bin Rashid Al Khalifa (BAH) 110pts
2. Abdulaziz Al Faisal (KSA) Al Faisal Racing Team 104pts
3. Khaled Al Qubaisi (UAE) tolimit Arabia 98pts
4. Fahad Algosaibi (KSA) ClassicArabia Racing 85pts
5. Bandar Alesayi (KSA) 80pts
6. Musaed Al Murar (UAE) tolimit arabia 57pts
7. Ibrahim Salloum (UAE) Abu Dhabi Falcon Racing 49pts
8. Johannes Waimer (GER) 37pts
9. Fawaz Algosaibi (KSA) ClassicArabia Racing 27pts
10. Alain Muraour (F) 25pts
Mobil 1 Trophy (Over 45s)
1. Johannes Waimer (GER) 110pts
2. Alain Muraour (F) 92pts
3. Fawaz Algosaibi (KSA) ClassicArabia Racing 74pts