x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Dane Christina Nielsen expects night-time shake up in Qatar in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge

The female Danish driver returns after winter break, while Saudi Arabia's Abdulaziz Al Faisal targets podium finishes in the two races to take place at Losail Circuit.

Christina Nielsen, of Denmark, returns to competition in Qatar this weekend. Courtesy GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East
Christina Nielsen, of Denmark, returns to competition in Qatar this weekend. Courtesy GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East

Christina Nielsen is relishing the challenge of night racing as she returns to the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East this weekend in Qatar.

Nielsen, who missed last month's two races in Saudi Arabia, is the first female driver to take part in the series. She is currently ninth in the championship table with 82 points to her name.

But the appeal to her of this weekend's two races at the Losail International Circuit, which will also host the opening round of the MotoGP motorbike championship later this month, is that both races take place after dark. She believes it will shake up the order.

"I am looking forward to racing at the Losail International Circuit and under the lights," she said.

"It will be a completely different challenge to racing during the day. I believe it will have an overall effect on the results."

The 21-year-old Dane has not raced since the sixth round of the season in Dubai in December.

"It is a great feeling to be back on the grid after a long winter break," she said.

"I cannot wait to get back behind the wheel.

"It has been an incredible experience so far, with the competition as keenly fought as I thought it would be. It has been a great journey and the experience of racing in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge has improved me as a driver."

While Nielsen prepares for her return, there is plenty at stake at the front with both the driver and team titles still up for grabs with only the two races at Losail and then two in Bahrain, on March 22 and 23, before the season is over.

The UAE-based team Al Nabooda Racing lead the team competition by 19 points from the Saudi Falcons. Their Austrian driver Clemens Schmid holds a narrow six-point lead over the defending champion Abdulaziz Al Fasial in the drivers' championship despite winning six of the eight races this season.

Schmid's teammate Karim Al Azhari is confident Al Nabooda will be on the pace in Losail, but is aware that the team title is far from wrapped up.

"It's a good position to be in, and we look forward to returning to Losail," he said.

"We have a good lead in the team championship and we've been ahead since the start of the season.

"But there are 50 points available over a race weekend, so things can turn around very quickly, and we won't take any unnecessary risks."

Al Faisal has had to play second fiddle to the dominant Schmid so far this season and he said his main objective this weekend was to achieve podium finishes to bolster his hopes of finishing at least third in the championship.

"It would be great to get a podium there, and fantastic to do it in both races," he said.

"That's what I'll be trying to do."

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