2018 Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion Tio Ellinas made an impressive debut in the Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East with a race victory in Dubai.
Ellinas is the latest Carrera Cup GB driver to enter the Winter series, with Tom Oliphant having battled for title honours in the 2017/18 championship.
The eventual champion Al Faisal Al Zubair proved to be the man to beat in Dubai, though Ellinas impressively fought with him throughout the meeting.
The Cypriot, who won the GB title courtesy of one win and twelve other podium finishes, was right on the pace from the off as he qualified second.
Ellinas tailed Al Zubair throughout the opening race, before a superb move on his rival netted him the lead and eventually the win in race two.
The duo enjoyed another duel for the win in the final race, with Al Zubair emerging in front to ensure he leaves Dubai with a two point championship lead.
“This weekend has been a great test for me. I felt good coming into this race weekend, but it hasn’t been easy,” said Ellinas.
“The track is very different to the tracks I’ve raced in the UK. There’s a lot of sand, which makes it really difficult for the tyres to grip compared to in Europe.
“You need to drive very skilfully out here, and that is sometimes difficult when you need to be aggressive. I had to adapt to a different timing style.
“At the end of the day I’ve come off the back of this weekend a better driver, which is the main thing.”
The 2018/19 Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, organised by Lechner Racing, is in its tenth season and is set to be contested over six weekends.
As part of an expanded sixteen race calendar, the championship heads to the Bahrain International Circuit for the first of three visits there.
They sandwich a return to Dubai and an outing on the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, with the season finale supporting the F1 Bahrain Grand Prix in March.