Championship leader Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal will be aiming to make the most of his home advantage when the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East returns to action in Saudi Arabia next month.
The Porsche GT3 Cup series enters the second half of its 2011-12 season at Reem International Circuit outside Riyadh on February 15-16 with Prince Abdulaziz looking to extend his eight-point cushion over second-placed fellow-Saudi driver, Bandar Alesayi.
If previous results at Reem are anything to go by, it will be extremely difficult for Alesayi or any of the other leading challengers to prevent the 2009-10 champion from moving closer to his second title in three years on home territory.
Over the past two seasons, Prince Abdulaziz has won six of the eight Porsche GT3 Cup races staged at Reem, and he will again try to capitalise on his liking for the twisting track set against a backdrop of rolling sand hills.
The Saudi star has been beaten to pole position just twice in eight qualifying sessions there, and won five of the six races he started from the front of the grid.
This, however, will not deter Alesayi who is eager to add to his race victory in Round 3 at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit in November to underline his pre-season declaration that he was ready to mount a serious title bid in his third season of Porsche GT3 Cup racing.
Contesting the series for the first time, Oman’s Ahmad Al Harthy followed Alesayi onto the victory podium in Abu Dhabi and is eager to make an impact on his first visit to Reem after suffering a double setback at Yas Marina Circuit last month.
Approaching the third race weekend of the season full of confidence, Al Harthy spun off in round 5 to lose his chance of a podium finish and then crashed into a barrier and out of Round 6 just 24 hours later.
He is keen to get his challenge back on track in Saudi, while Prince Abdulaziz can also expect more pressure from Austrian Clemens Schmid who will be aiming to add to his two race victories already this season in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Also making his first appearance at Reem, Qatar’s Saddon Al Kuwari will attempt to strengthen his lead in the intermediate class for the Michelin Silver Trophy, while Saudi Fawaz Algosaibi looks to increase his advantage in the bronze class Mobil 1 Trophy.
Championship positions after Round 6
1. Abdulaziz Al Faisal (KSA) Saudi Falcons 110pts
2. Bandar Alesayi (KSA) Saudi GT Racing 102pts
3. Stephane Lemeret (BEL) Al Nabooda Racing 86pts
4. Ahmad Al Harthy (OM) Oman Air Racing 80pts
5. Saeed Al Mouri KSA) Saudi Falcons 72pts
6. Saddon Al Kuwari (QA) 51pts
7. Clemens Schmid (AUT) 50pts
8. Hans Guido Riegel (GER) Haribo Racing 39pts
8. Armin Schmid CH Team TCE 39pts
10. Fawaz Algosaibi (KSA) Saudi GT Racing 30pts
10. Hannes Waimer (GER) Team TCE 30pts
Michelin Silver Trophy
1. Saddon Al Kuwari (QA) 51pts
2. Hans Guido Riegel (GER) Haribo Racing 39pts
2. Armin Schmid CH Team TCE 39pts
4. Mark Thomas (CAN) 27pts
Mobil 1 Trophy
1. Fawaz Algosaibi (KSA) Saudi GT Racing 30pts
1. Hannes Waimer (GER) 30pts
3. Rob Frijns (NL) Frins Structural Steel 22pts
4. Manfred Ender (AUT) Frins Structural Steel 13pts
5. Cengiz J.Oguzhan (TUR) 9pts
6. Jaber Al Khalifa (BAH) 7pts