Al Faisal narrowly misses podium finish on debut

Sports Monday 17/May/2021 11:36 AM
Al Faisal narrowly misses  podium finish on debut

Muscat: The Lechner Racing duo of Al Faisal al Zubair and Andy Soucek sent a strong signal that they would be the team to watch out after a strong and a solid performance in the opening race of the 2021 International GT Open Championship series at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France on Saturday.

Making his debut in the highly-competitive GT3 endurance series, Oman’s Al Faisal, and Soucek, overcame two safety car interruptions to finish fourth overall and second in their Pro class.

Competing in their Porsche GT3-R car, Al Faisal was the first to go behind the wheel of the 70-minute race but his bid to gain a good lead in the initial stages was put paid by two accidents in the first half. That left the 23 year old Al Faisal with not much of chance to move up after the team had qualified P8 earlier on Saturday.

Soucek took over and made a late assault to finish fourth raising hopes of a podium finish in the second race of the first round on Sunday.

Speaking after the eventful first race of the season, Al Faisal, a double Porsche GT3 Challenge Middle East champion said, “We are quite happy with a P4 on our debut. Being the first race of the championship and being able to pick up good points is a positive start to our campaign.

“Unfortunately, during my stint the safety car was out for most of the time but in the end finishing fourth overall is a good start to the championship. Hopefully, we can build upon this in the second race on Sunday and keep the ball rolling with good results.”

Team Lazarus Bentley Continental pair of Ivan Peklin, the 19-year-old Ukranian, and Bentley works driver Jordan Pepper, from South Africa, claimed the top honours with a time of 1hr:10min:58.425secs after 29 laps.

The two Inception McLarens 720S of Nick Moss-Joe Osborne (1:11:08.539) and Brendan Iribe-Ollie Millroy (1:11:08.797), who were in the Pro-Am class came second and third respectively ahead of Al Faisal and Soucek.

Backed by Al Manar Financial Investments, the Lechner Racing duo clocked 1:11:10.150 to finish second in the Pro class among a grid of 16 cars at series, which is one of the top references in the world of GT3 racing in Europe.

Spain’s Soucek, a former F2 champion, rued the disruptions and said, “It was unfortunate that Al Faisal had to drive through a long safety car period. The big accident that took place ahead of him also slightly damaged our car. To be honest, he couldn’t avoid and I struggled a lot with the front axle of the car.

“Running behind the Vincenzo Sospiri Racing’s Lamborhinis was a nightmare as they were defending a lot. But I managed to overtake him and few other cars in the final stages. I needed a few more laps to get closer to the McLarens. We could have managed an overall P2 but P4 is OK. We don’t have a handicap for tomorrow and hopefully we will have a good and a clean race.”