Germany’s Leon Koehler has been crowned Season 11 champion of the Porsche Sprint Challenge Middle East. The 20-year-old driver, in only his second season in the championship, secures top spot following four rounds and 12 exhilarating races across the region. Due to the ongoing global pandemic, Round 5, the fifth and final round, was scheduled to take place over the Bahrain Gulf Air Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend but was postponed in line with F1 regulations. It has therefore been decided that the final round of the championship will no longer take place.
Koehler secures top spot after amassing an impressive 280 points, 43 points ahead of France’s JB Simmenauer (237pts). The young Frenchman enjoyed a fantastic season and in doing so surpasses last season’s third place finish. Debutant Richard Wagner from Germany completes the podium in third (200 points).
The young driver Koehler raced with the skill and poise of a seasoned driver to secure five first place finishes throughout the course of the season. In doing so, he becomes the first European driver to lift the trophy in three years, following back-to-back wins by Omani driving sensation Al Faisal Al Zubair.
Championship winner, Leon Koehler, said: “It is truly a dream come true to be crowned champion of the Porsche Sprint Challenge Middle East. It’s a fiercely competitive racing series and it has been a steep learning curve for me over the last two seasons. When I joined the championship in Season 10, I gave myself the aim of trying to improve over every race, and this is what I’ve done. The competition is full of incredibly talented drivers from all over the world and the standard has been really strong this year, with the likes of Simmenauer and Wagner pushing me all the way to the end. I want to say thank-you to Lechner Racing and to Porsche and I wish all the other drivers well for the coming months.”
The Pro-Am category sees Jesse Van Kuijk of the Netherlands take top spot on 159 points, ahead of his brother Daan in second with 135 points. Third place is awarded to Lucas Groeneveld, also from The Netherlands, finishing on117 points. In the Am category, Bahrain’s Jaber Al Khalifa finishes on top with 114 points ahead of Swiss driver Jean-Marc Cordier in second and Michael Doppelmayr of Austria in third.
Series organiser Walter Lechner of Lechner Racing said: “I want to congratulate our three category winners: Leon, Jesse and Jaber. They all drove incredibly well this season and are deserved champions. It’s been another season packed full of incredible wheel-to-wheel action and some truly thrilling driving. The series continues to be the most successful one-make racing series in the region and it’s clear why, when you reflect back on some of the races we’ve had. There was no better start than the opening race in Bahrain, when debutant Julian Hanses secured P1 just .04 seconds ahead of Leon in second. It was a sign of things to come, with the season providing some excellent races. On behalf of everyone at Lechner Racing, I want to say thank you to all of the fans. We wish them well and we look forward to returning for Season 12 later this year”.
Over 20 drivers from 10 nations took to the grid for the 11th instalment, with races taking place at iconic circuits throughout the region. As the longest running motorsport series in the Middle East, the championship, organized by Lechner Racing on behalf of Porsche Middle East and Africa FZE, has dominated professional racing in the region since its inception in 2009.
The Porsche Sprint Challenge Middle East is recognised as having a profound impact on the sports development, as it was the first regional championship backed by a manufacturer in the Middle East. It gives official drivers access to the latest Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car, the same model used for international motorsport editions, such as the Porsche Carrera Cup and the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, the official F1 support race.