Ashkanani links up with Schmidt as Dubai outfit look to mark 10th anniversary by reclaiming team crown in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East
Al Nabooda Racing launch new driver line-up for double Porsche GT3 Cup title bid
Al Nabooda Racing have linked 2013-14 individual champion Zaid Ashkanani with talented Swiss driver Jeffrey Schmidt as they look to celebrate a 10th season in motor racing by reclaiming the team title in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.
Al Nabooda Automobiles LLC, Porsche Importer for Dubai & Northern Emirates, announced the exciting Ashkanani-Schmidt combination at an official team press conference today ahead of the 2015-16 GT3 Cup season starting next month.
Al Nabooda Racing, the Porsche GT3 Cup team champions twice in the last three years and runners up last season, are determined to build on their record as the most successful team in the region’s top circuit racing championship.
While they had to settle for runners up spot last season after dominating the team championship for the two previous years, their haul of five outright or shared team race victories in the 2014-15 campaign was not bettered.
Kuwaiti Ashkanani, who captured the Porsche GT3 cup drivers crown two years ago and finished runner-up last season, is recognised as one of the Arab world’s most talented young drivers.
For the last two seasons Schmidt has competed in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup which is part of the Formula 1 Grand Prix support programme, securing the first of his podium places in the series with second place in Austria last year. While he has made only a limited number of appearances in the GT3 Cup series, he underlined his class with victory in a round of the 2012-13 championship at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit when he beat Ashkanani into second place.
“This is a particularly important season for us as Al Nabooda Racing is now marking its tenth anniversary in motor racing, and we were determined to mark this milestone by regaining our team title in the Porsche GT3 Cup series,” said Mr. K. Rajaram, CEO, Al Nabooda Automobiles.
“In bringing Zaid and Jeffrey together we have assembled the strongest combination of drivers since the team was formed. We look forward to the new season with confidence and believe they can deliver both the team and drivers titles. Once again we take great pride in the opportunity we have to continue promoting the Porsche brand’s strong link with motor racing, and its long and successful record in the sport.”
Ashkanani and Schmidt will take the wheel of brand new Porsche GT3 Cup Cars when the 12-round, one-make series enters its sixth season, with the first two rounds taking place at Bahrain International Circuit on 19-21 November.
Vijay Rao, Team Manager and General Manager, Al Nabooda Automobiles LLC, said: “We are hungrier than ever for success and determined to celebrate our tenth season in motor racing by winning the team championship again.
“Our record means we are still very much the team to beat, so it will be even more challenging this time to take the championship. We’ll need to work harder than ever to win back the team title, but we have a combination of drivers who are up for the task, and we’re confident that Zaid and Jeffrey will form a successful partnership.”
Ashkanani, who finished sixth overall in his first Porsche GT3 Cup campaign three years ago, made a big breakthrough the following season by powering his way to the drivers’ title in brilliant style with four race wins and three pole positions.
He said: “I’m excited to be joining the most successful team in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East and to be partnering with Jeffrey for the first time. I’ve always been impressed with the way this team is run and of course with their results. We’ve had some great battles over the last couple of years.
“This is another important step in my development as a racing driver and I’m really looking forward to the new season driving an Al Nabooda Racing GT3 Cup car.”
Schmidt commented: “I’m very happy and proud to join Al Nabooda Racing and to have the chance to drive for the most successful team in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.
“This is a great opportunity and I’m excited to have the chance to drive in the Porsche GT3 Cup series which is a superbly well organised championship. I have a lot of experience at driving Porsches and love the way GT3 Cup car performs, so there’s a lot to look forward to. The main objective is to take Al Nabooda Racing to the team title, and that’s what I’ll be aiming to do with Zaid.”
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East 2015-16 season calendar:
Round 1 19 – 21 November 2015 Bahrain International Circuit
Round 2 04 & 05 December 2015 Reem International Circuit
Round 3 22 January 2016 Yas Marina Circuit
Round 4 29 & 30 January 2016 Dubai Autodrome
Round 5 19 February 2016 Dubai Autodrome
Round 6 04 & 05 March 2016 Bahrain International Circuit