Barcelona: A new car, a new partner, and a new challenge. Notwithstanding all these, what was most important for Oman’s Al Faisal Al Zubair was to have an enjoyable and a fruitful outing.
And the Lechner Racing driver, just 22, did have as he finished his maiden stint in Porsche GT3 R car with his Spanish teammate, Andu Soucek, at the joint International GT Open and GT Cup Open Europe Barcelona Winter Test, on a happy note on Tuesday.
Ahead of the GT Open Series, which begins at Paul Ricard circuit in France next month, the two-day Winter Test held at the at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, witnessed 17 teams try out their cars in ideal weather conditions.
Al Faisal, who is making his debut in the GT Open Championship, and Soucek, were impressive on both the days of testing as they posted competitive timings.
On Monday, the teams were welcomed by sunny skies while on the second day, skies were overcast and some rain appeared, for a while, during third of the five sessions held. A total of eight sessions took place with three on the first day.
Speaking after two days of testing, Al Faisal said, “I am very happy and satisfied with my stint in new GT3 R car. This is the first time I have raced in this car and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
“I and Andy were very happy with the car and our team was also satisfied with our timings. Overall, it was a fruitful outing and I now look forward to Paul Ricard opener next month.”
The two-time former Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East champion added, “We improved with each session and our times were very competitive. We were in the top bracket with our timings and this gives us confidence that we can achieve good results in the season ahead.
“I was comfortable pushing the car and at the end of two days of testing, I feel positive and believe that we have a good package to provide stiff challenge to other teams during the season ahead.”
Al Faisal said that his ‘experience in racing in Porsche Cup Challenge cars’ did help him with the new GT3 R car as he was able to get a better grip and balance of the car during the testing session.
“This car has a lot of power and aero and is a lot better on brakes. I felt at ease with the car and having posted competitive times over two days, the confidence and morale is good in our team,” added Al Faisal.
On the first day of intense testing, Beretta-Schandorff (VSR Lambo) posted the best time (1.45.475) after topping sessions one and three on the slightly-modified Catalan track after the changes to turn ten. Only 31 thousandths behind was the AKM Mercedes of Spinelli-Moiseev, fastest in session two, which preceded the Lambo of Cipriani (-0.440), the Lechner Racing Porsche of Al Faisal-Soucek (-0.787) and the new Audi of Balfe-Carroll (-0.829).
Al Faisal and Soucek were placed fourth in combined timings after day one and on day two, they even managed a top-two (fourth session) and a top-three (third session) in the five sessions held. AKM Mercedes of Spinelli-Moiseev were also on top on the second day.
The 16th edition of International GT Open will begin with a race at the Paul Ricard circuit in France on May 16. The seven-leg series concludes in Barcelona on October 24.
Al Faisal, who is fully backed by Oman-based Al Manar Financial Investments, will be competing in the Pro class at the GT Open.