Dubai. Saudi Arabia’s Bandar Alesayi wants a double podium finish to the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at Bahrain International Circuit this weekend to round off a season which started with so much promise but has ultimately left him frustrated.
Alesayi said at the start of the 2011-12 season that he felt confident of mounting a serious title bid, and he looked to be well on course when he won Round 3 at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit after a third and second place in Dubai.
But in seven races since then he has managed just three podium places, and his challenge finally disintegrated at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit last month where he had a non-finish in Round 10 after a disappointing fifth place 24 hours earlier.
“Initially I was going very well, and after I won the third round in Abu Dhabi I thought I could go on and win more races,” said Alesayi, whose problems in Qatar led to fellow Saudi Abdulaziz Al Faisal clinching his second Porsche GT3 Cup title in three years.
“But I’m not really satisfied with my performances for the rest of the season. Maybe I just wasn’t able to focus well enough at times. I was right up there with Abdulaziz in qualifying early in the season, and it was very close between us. But after that my pace was never as good and it’s really down to me.
Added Alesayi: “Abdulaziz is a great driver, but apart from that he’s much better than myself at getting the set-up of the car right, and that’s so important.
“I’m not confident of beating him in Bahrain, but I’d like to get two podiums and make sure of finishing runner-up in the championship.”
To do that he must avoid a repeat of his Round 10 disaster in Qatar where he went out of the race on the first corner, with Saudi’s Saeed Al Mouri and Swiss star Clemens Schmid both still mathematically capable of moving ahead of him.
The Porsche GT3 Cup series is returning to Bahrain International Circuit after a gap of 15 months, and no-one is looking forward to the final two rounds more than champion Abdulaziz.
He is down in the record books as the first ever Porsche GT3 Cup race winner at the circuit, and also won there the last time the series visited Bahrain in December 2010.
Championship positions after Round 10
1. Abdulaziz Al Faisal (KSA) Saudi Falcons 186pts (champion)
2. Bandar Alesayi (KSA) Saudi GT Racing 144pts
3. Saeed Al Mouri KSA) Saudi Falcons 128pts
4. Clemens Schmid (AUT) 126pts
5. Ahmad Al Harthy (OM) Oman Air Racing 106pts
6. Saadon Al Kuwari (QA) 88pts
7. Stephane Lemeret (BEL) Al Nabooda Racing 86pts
8. Armin Schmid CH Team TCE 67pts
9. Hannes Waimer (GER) Team TCE 50pts
10. Karim Al Azhari (UAE) Al Nabooda Racing 43pts
Michelin Silver Trophy
1. Saadon Al Kuwari (QA) 88pts
2. Armin Schmid (CH) Team TCE 67pts
3. Hans Guido Riegel (GER) Haribo Racing 39pts
4. Mark Thomas (CAN) 27pts
Mobil 1 Trophy
1. Hannes Waimer (GER) 50pts
2. Manfred Ender (AUT) Frins Structural Steel 36pts
3. Rob Frijns (NL) Frins Structural Steel 33pts
4. Fawaz Algosaibi (KSA) ClassicArabia Racing 31pts
1. Bandar Alesayi – aiming for a strong finish to the Porsche GT3 Cup season in Bahrain this weekend.
2. Abdulaziz Al Faisal – new champion will be chasing a repeat of his victory in Bahrain the last time the GT3 Cup series visited the circuit.