Imola: Al-Faisal Al-Zubair and Andy Soucek maintained their impressive start to the International GT Open Championship season with a hard-earned third place in the first of two races at the Imola circuit in Italy on Saturday afternoon.
The duo qualified the Lechner Racing Team’s Porsche 911 GT3 R in fourth for the 70-minute race and managed to pass the Audi Sport Italia R8 of Lorenzo Ferrari and Riccardo Agostini to claim third place and add to their championship points’ tally.
Race win victory fell to Loris Spinelli’s Mercedes AMG from pole position, with Michele Beretta and Frederik Schandorff finishing second in the Vincenzo Sospiri Racing Lamborghini, 4.407 seconds behind the Italian after 41 laps of racing.
Omani Al-Zubair said: “Andy qualified the car today in fourth place, which was an alright result considering the balance of performance of the Mercedes seems a little unfair. Going into the race, Andy started and managed to get into third place and this is where we finished. This was a great result. It was another podium in the championship that we should be really happy about.
“The car feels good, the balance and the set-up are good. Hopefully we can have a good starting position in the next qualifying session and get another podium or a win.”
The Lechner Racing Team’s Porsche 911 GT3 R finished the first of the two free practice sessions in second place with a best lap of 1min 42.085sec after a 22-lap stint. The fastest time fell to Lorenzo Ferrari and Riccardo Agostini in their Audi R8. Al-Zubair’s title rivals, Beretta and Schandorff were third in the baking hot conditions.
Ferrari and Agostini again topped the times in the second free practice session, with Al-Zubair and Soucek coming home in third place behind Loris Spinelli’s Mercedes.
Attention then focused on the first 30-minute qualifying session on Saturday morning.
Spinelli claimed pole position with a best lap of 1min 39.511sec, with Michele Beretta guiding the VSR Lamborghini to second place and Lorenzo Ferrari coming home in third place. Soucek ran for 10 laps and a best tour of 1min 40.105sec put the Lechner Porsche in fourth place on the starting grid.
There will be a second qualifying session and one hour race on Sunday.