Al-Zubair finishes fifth on Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe debut at Imola

Sports Monday 04/April/2022 08:50 AM
By: Times News Service
Al-Zubair finishes fifth on Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe debut at Imola
Oman’s Al-Faisal Al-Zubair

Imola: Oman’s Al-Faisal Al-Zubair teamed up with Fabian Schiller and Axcil Jeffries to finish fifth in the Silver category on his first appearance at a round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS at Imola on Sunday.

The Omani represented Al-Manar Racing by HRT at the wheel of a Mercedes-AMG GT3 and the racing trio completed 94 laps of the demanding Italian circuit in the three-hour endurance race, which attracted 52 entries across the various categories.

Victory in the Silver category fell to Team WRT’s Thomas Neubauer, Benjamin Goethe and Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer in an Audi R8 LMS, with Marius Zug, Alex Aka and Nicolas Schöli crossing the finish in second place after losing out on a potential win during the last set of pit stops.

The Al-Manar Racing by HRT Mercedes had completed 17 laps after the opening 30 minutes of the race and the crew were holding fifth place at that point. By the 90-minute mark, the team had completed 50 laps and had slipped back to seventh.

But they delivered a resilient fight back through the middle of the race and, by the 2hr 30min point, the Mercedes had clocked 77 laps and the crew were lying in second position in the Silver category before slipping back to fifth by the chequered flag on lap 94 after incurring a 10-second penalty.

Al-Zubair said: “This weekend was a little bit tougher that we expected. I think finishing P5 out of 18 Silver class cars was a good job considering we got a 10-second penalty for overshooting the pit entry. Finishing just outside the overall top 20 with a grid of 52 cars with the penalty included was a good result and a good way to start the championship. We are heading in the right direction.

“The format here is different to other championships in that they put everything in one day. We have qualifying in the morning and the race in the evening. There is not much time in between if something goes wrong. Pirelli tyres are new to me. I am just getting my head around it and to learn the way of the car. We have to manage it a bit better next time. The set-up of the car felt good on the test day but all three of us struggled with the set-up and the tyres in the race.

“As a championship there is nothing that gets close to the GT World Challenge. The level of drivers proves that. You only have to look at the level of names participating in that. For example, there were 17 Pro entries, which consist of three factory drivers in each car. This shows that the championship is prioritised by manufacturers. It makes it extremely difficult, but I think it’s a good thing to race at the top level to push ourselves in the right direction, like we did in the Super Cup.

“We have quite a long break now to the Six Hours of Paul Ricard. But the test was positive there and we will be looking for a podium or a win in the Silver class. This is our goal.”

Action began with free practice on Saturday morning and Al-Zubair, Schiller and Jeffries clocked the second quickest lap of 1min 40.937sec in the Silver Cup category to finish just 0.314sec behind the Attempto Racing trio of Marius Zug, Nicolas Schöli and Alex Aka in their Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo2.

The Sainteloc Junior Team Audi R8 of Cesar Gazeau, Nicolas Baert and Aurelian Panis came home in third.


For further information:

Firas Nimri, Tel: + 962 7 7728 2000, E-mail: [email protected].

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