Times of Oman
Oman motorsport: Al Faisal returns to Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East series along with Khalid Al Wahaibi
November 7, 2017 | 2:33 PM
by Times News Service
Al Faisal Al Zubair: "I am very excited to be returning to championship."
 
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Muscat: Season 9 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East is poised to be the most international in the history of the series with nine different nations to feature on a highly competitive grid when the championship starts in Bahrain on November 17.

Such is the global reputation and growing appeal of the highly successful one-make series, Season 9 will see new drivers from as far as South Africa and Great Britain descend to make their debuts in the championship.

Returning to the championship after his outstanding debut in Season 8, Al Faisal Al Zubair will be looking to pick up where he left off and continue to impress on the track. His hard work and progression across the 12 races led him to win both the Porsche GCC Rookie and the Bronze category last season.

Due to his success, he went on to compete in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, gaining international racing experience over the summer months.



Al Zubair will be turning his attention back to the Middle East where he hopes to achieve bigger and better things in his second season of the competition.

Also representing Oman is another young rising star, Khalid Al Wahaibi.

After rising through the ranks of professional Go Karting and impressing in the Formula 4 South East Asia Championship last year, Al Wahaibi joins the grid for Season 9. He and Al Zubair will be among a number of young, talented drivers set to take on international racers on home soil.

Season 9 will include drivers hailing from Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands, Sweden as well as returning and new local stars from the Middle East region representing Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

As well as new drivers, the new season also makes the much anticipated introduction of the brand new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup to the region for the first time. The latest edition of the world’s best-selling race car features a four-litre, six-cylinder flat engine with direct fuel injection, delivering 485 hp and the expectation of quicker lap times than ever before.

All drivers, including local favourites Al Faisal al Zubair of Oman, Saudi Arabia’s Fahad Al Gosaibi and Qatar’s Charlie Frijns, are due to complete pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit on November 11 and 12.

The strength and depth of the series is proven by confirmation that an international grid of 17 cars will feature for the opening race in Bahrain on November 17 as a support race to the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Well prepared

Speaking ahead of testing, Oman’s Al Faisal Al Zubair said: “I am very excited to be returning to championship. This year there will be added pressure, as my first season was all about learning and getting used to the car. The results were better than expected and I was really pleased overall. However, coming back to the Middle East after a full season of Supercup experience, I feel I am much more prepared.

“It is going to be a tough championship, I have heard a few quick drivers have confirmed, so the battle for the overall title will be strong. I feel I have matured as a driver over the summer and continued to learn a lot. I will be coming back for more wins in Season 9 and I cannot wait to get back on the tracks of the Middle East.”

The series was the first and remains the only regional championship backed by a manufacturer in the Middle East, and Season 9 will see the series set even higher standards as founder and manager Walter Lechner of Lechner Racing commented: “This championship has evolved into something that is truly special and offers an unrivalled experience for all. It has stood the test of time and has a legacy to be proud of. But I believe with a new car and such a diverse group of drivers, our future is even brighter than our past.

“We have a truly global footprint and family of drivers all ready to race and hone their skills in the Middle East. I’m sure the new drivers will relish every moment and we look forward to welcoming them.

“It really is the pinnacle of racing in the Middle East and a breeding ground for the sport at an international level.”

The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East will consist of six race weekends with 12 races over a period of six months. Drivers will compete across the region with confirmed circuits including Dubai Autodrome, Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain International Circuit.

The championship starts on November 17 in Bahrain as part of the FIA World Endurance Championship weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit and come to a thrilling conclusion by supporting official 2018 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix weekend.

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