Round 01: Bahrain

#PCCME

Great start into the Porsche Carrera Cup Middle East at Bahrain

The Porsche Carrera Cup Middle East started into its first season during the weekend of the FIA WEC event at Bahrain International Circuit – following in the footsteps of an already great tradition: It´s now the 15th season of the cooperation of Lechner Racing and Porsche in this region: Since its very first start in 2009, the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East quickly established itself as the most professional and successful series in the area. In 2019, it was renamed the Porsche Sprint Challenge Middle East, further building on its success. 

Now this proven concept and continuous development over the years stepped up into the beginning of a new era with the Porsche Carrera Cup Middle East 2023/24. Operating from the Bahrain International Circuit, “The Home of Motorsport in the Middle East”, that provides benefits from an exceptional environment with state-of-the-art motorsport facilities in a great region, it offers a lot to drivers, teams, partners and fans.

In the first free practice, Robert De Haan from the Netherlands was fastest, with Theo Oeverhaus from Germany finishing less than three hundredth of a second behind and Colin Boenighausen, also from Germany, in P3. Khaled Alahmadi from Saudi Arabia was best of the ProAM and the GCC drivers in P5 overall, and Sebastian Gorga from Italy lead the AM category. 

In the second session, De Haan was setting the fastest time again. This time he was followed by his fellow countryman Flynt Schuring, nearly five tenths of a second behind, and Colin Boenighausen. Khaled Alahmadi was again the best of the ProAM and the GCC drivers in P6 overall, as well as Italian Sebastian Gorga topping the AM category for the second time.

In qualifying Robert De Haan then confirmed his dominant form by setting pole position in a very close fight. Boeninghausen and his German fellow coutryman Theo Oeverhaus finished only one tenth of a second behind. Fastest in the ProAM class was another German, well-experienced Soeren Spreng, while Ahmad Al-Shehab from Kuwait topped the GCC category. Sebastian Gorga from Italy led the AM class drivers.

Under the bright floodlights of BIC, the drivers then went into the first race of the new championship on Friday evening. Robert De Haan took the lead from pole position, while behind him Oeverhaus, the rookie champion of the German Porsche Carrera Cup 2023, put a lot of pressure on Boeninghausen, finally passing him after six of twelve laps. What seemed to be a move for P2 turned out to be one for victory, as De Haan, who had crossed the finish line in P1 on track, received a five-second penalty after the race for a false start. Bashar Mardini from Canada was first in the ProAM class after passing Spreng in the early stages of the race, with Ahmad Al-Shehab from Kuwait topping the GCC category. Sebastian Gorga from Italy, 10th in the general classification, was the winner of the AM class. 

The second race on Saturday provided even more action. Theo Oeverhaus this time started from pole position, and while Robert De Haan seemed to get him into the first corner, the Dutchman decided to give the position back, as he had left the track with all four wheels while passing. Just behind, Colin Boenighausen, who later received a ten-second penalty, hit Flynt Schuring, with Soeren Spreng becoming a victim of the collision, also dropping back towards the end of the field like the two others. The big winner of all these troubles was Ahmad Al-Shehab from Kuwait, who suddenly found himself in P4 and was able to defend this position until the end, winning both the ProAM and the GCC category. After a few laps, De Haan managed to overtake Oeverhaus and secured his victory, while only 16-year-old German Janne Stiak made it to the podium for the first time in P3. 

The final lap saw a lot of action again in the midfield: AM class leader Sebastian Gorga tried an over optimistic move to get two places back he had lost just before – and had to pay the price: After the race, he received two ten-second penalties for causing a collision and leaving the track and returning unsafely. So local hero Jaber Al-Khalifa from Bahrain, 8th in total, finally scored victory in the AM class. 

 

Series Head and Promoter Robert Lechner was very happy about the debut of the now 12th Porsche Carrera Cup Championships worldwide: 

“Being able to set the stage for local talents to make the first steps into professional racing or to fine-tune their skills and progress on the ladder to international success on such a high level of racing was and is a great challenge. We had a great weekend here at BIC, as a support event of the WEC, and were able to provide great racing and entertainment to all our fans and partners. It feels like a great achievement that we have been able to make this new step up to turning the series into an official Porsche Carrera Cup championship. We are very thankful for the great reception we always receive in this part of the world. We always feel very welcome and comfortable here.”

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