Jeffrey Schmidt in the driving seat to defend his Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East title
All eyes will be on Jeffrey Schmidt when the eighth season of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East returns to the region’s circuits next month.
Even as prospective drivers scramble to confirm their entries, many of the title contenders will go into the new series trying to figure out how to beat the defending champion.
Schmidt, of the Dubai-based Al Nabooda Racing team, enjoyed a near-perfect debut season in 2015/16, with the Swiss winning nine out of 12 races to secure the title by a 29-point margin at the top of the overall driver’s standings.
Launched in 2009 with the intention of providing young and upcoming talent from the Middle East and beyond with a chance to compete in professional motorsport, the new season will kick-start in Bahrain on November 19.
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The race will get underway at the Bahrain International Circuit as part of the 6 Hours of Bahrain, the final weekend of the World Endurance Championship. Bahrain has also been earmarked to host the final race in April.
The Dubai Autodrome and Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi will be the other venues to host the series, often regarded as one of the purest forms of racing given that all drivers compete in identical Porsche 911 GT3 cars.
Speaking ahead of the new season, founder and head Walter Lechner said the aim of the competition is not just to give drivers on-track experience but also to help them get into the mindset of a racing driver.
“The series is open to anyone in the region, of all backgrounds and levels of racing experience. We are able to train up drivers and ensure that required licenses are achieved,” Lechner said.
“Where the drivers will find the real test is when they are competing, testing and qualifying, working closely with their engineering teams to look at performance data and understanding feedback.
“It is through this means we help drivers develop,” he added.
Over the previous seven seasons, drivers involved have gone on to race in other competitions, such as the elite Porsche Supercup, the World Endurance Championship, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and even single-seater GP2.
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Updated: October 26, 2016 04:00 AM