x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Clemens Schmid holds off Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal in Porsche GT3 Cup

Clemens Schmid of Austria held off Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal of Saudi Arabia to win the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge at Yas Marina Circuit, but the Saudi driver still managed to increase his lead in the driver's standings.

After passing him on Lap 10, Clemens Schmid, right, tried to make his Porsche as wide as possible to keep Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal behind him.
After passing him on Lap 10, Clemens Schmid, right, tried to make his Porsche as wide as possible to keep Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal behind him.

Clemens Schmid of Austria won Round 6 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at Yas Marina Circuit on Friday after a taut struggle with Saudi Arabia's Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal, who extended his lead in the championship for the second day running.

Starting from pole position, as he had done 24 hours earlier, Schmid immediately lost the lead in the race to the first corner and spent the next 10 laps trying to find a way past the Saudi.

He finally made the pass with four of the 14 laps remaining and held on for a slender victory, although second place for the Saudi driver still saw him stretch his advantage in the title race to eight points over Bandar Alesayi, who finished third.

Earlier in the day, Lamborghini inflicted the first defeat of the season on the dominant Ferrari in Round 4 of the NGK UAE GT Championship.

Stuart Hall powered the Gulf Racing Lamborghini LP560 to the team's first victory in the series, setting the fastest lap in the process of the one-hour mini-enduro.

The Briton survived a drive-through penalty for entering the pits later than the stipulated time during the 30 laps he completed.

Hall did the one-hour drive by himself after his regular partner, Roald Goethe, was unable to reach Abu Dhabi because of business commitments.

"My teammate was stuck in Austria so he said I should go for it alone and, honestly, it was not too bad as the weather is cool and conditions fine," Hall said. "We had strong pace, the best all season. The Lamborghini was strong around Yas Marina Circuit. I know the Ferrari were penalised, but we also served a 20-second penalty."

Second across the line and taking top honours in the GT3 Endurance Class was Ahmad Al Harthy in the Lechner Porsche GT3, with Christian Menzel finishing third in the sister car.

The previously dominant Abu Dhabi Motorsports-prepared Ferrari with Leon Price and Rob Barff, were fourth overall and second in the GTA Class.

Their run of wins came to an end after a couple of costly pit-stop related infringements during the race. First, they stopped outside the stipulated time window. The second penalty was for a pit time infringement.

In the Total UAE Touring Car Championship, which also took place at Yas Marina Circuit, Costas Papantonis, in the Gulf Petrochem SEAT, narrowly defeated Mohammed Al Owais of Emirates Racing Team and the privateer, Nader Zuhour, in the Class 1 race.

Zuhour's chances ended when he made a mistake.

"I got the car on the rumble strip, it was damp and very slippery, and next thing I was facing the wrong way," he said. "I lost five seconds on the leaders and that was that."

Al Owais struck back to win the second race, with Zuhour fending off Papantonis in the battle for second.

"Really it was a tale of two totally different races," Al Owais said.

"I don't know if it was the car or maybe me, but in Race 1 the car was all over the place and then in Race 2 it was perfect. But I must say, the first race Costas [Papantonis] was really very strong, he drove very well and deserved to win. In the second race I got a good start and the rest is history."

The reigning Total UAE Touring Car Champion Umair Khan powered his Lap57 Honda to two emphatic victories in Class 2.

* Agencies