Oman motorsport: Al Faisal Al Zubair claims top 10 qualifying time in Germany Porsche Carrera Cup
September 9, 2017 | 3:21 PM
by Times News Service
Oman's Al Faisal Al Zubair pictured at the Nurburgring Sprint circuit. Photo - Supplied

Nurburgring: Oman’s Al Faisal Al Zubair continued to impress on his first qualifying appearance in the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany at the Nurburgring Sprint circuit on Saturday.

The Omani, who is working with Zele Racing at the last three rounds of the German series, carded a best lap of one minute and 30.793 seconds to qualify in 10th of the 25 entrants in a session where the top 14 was separated by a mere 0.990 seconds.

Pole position for the first of the two races fell to Christopher Zöchling, who posted a late lap of one minute and 30.000 seconds to oust Nick Yelloly, Christian Engelhart and Dennis Olsen from a possible pole position in changeable track conditions on the 3.629km circuit.

“It was a very good result for my first time here qualifying at the Nürburgring,” said FZ Racing’s Al Faisal. “I have to be happy with that because I was learning the track and I am sure once we have analysed the data we will get some positive results.

“The weather was very unpredictable. It started dry and then it was wet and then we had dry again. I have a good starting position now for the race.”

Heavy rain and overcast skies dampened spirits before the start of Saturday morning’s qualifying session. The track was much drier by the time Olsen posted an early target time of one minute and 34.033 seconds. Engelhart went quicker soon afterwards with a lap of one minute and 32.216 seconds, as Al Zubair carded an early 1:36.204 lap to move into 15th of the 25 entrants and then improved with a 1:33.769 lap.

Olsen moved back to the top of the rankings with 1:30.847, only for Nick Yelloly to surpass that lap with an impressive 1:30.381 tour. Al Zubair was also in good form and a stunning lap of 1:31.957 catapulted the Omani into 10th. An early run of 1:30.953 moved Ammermuller into fourth and pushed Al Zubair back to 11th.

Heading into the last 15 minutes of the session it began to rain a little heavier, although Yelloly continued to lead from Olsen, Engelhart and Ammermüller, with Al Zubair in 12th position after everyone had pitted to replace slick tyres with wet rubber and waited for the shower to pass over.

Several drivers, including Ammermüller and Olsen, returned to the pits to refit slicks in drying conditions and returned to the track with five or six minutes remaining. A mere 1.2 seconds separated the top 25 drivers.

A time of 1:31.206 lifted Al Zubair back to 11th after he had slipped back to 14th, but the Omani was soon back in 13th as Engelhart snatched the lead with 1:30.182 with two minutes to run.

Al Zubair was not to be denied either and a best lap of 1:30.793 rekindled the Omani’s challenge and moved him into ninth, as Christopher Zöchling stormed to the top of the rankings with a 1:30.130.

Zochling held on to claim pole position from Yelloly with an even quicker lap of 1:30.000, with Engelhart and Olsen in third and fourth and Al Zubair finishing the session in an impressive 10th on his debut in the prestigious German racing series.

Friday afternoon’s training enabled Al Zubair to run for 25 laps on the Sprint course and the Omani set some impressive lap times, culminating with a run of 1:40.828 that catapulted him into ninth of the 25 drivers. Porsche Mobil 1 Super Cup front-runner Dennis Olsen set the fastest lap of 1:39.298. Arch-rival Michael Ammermuller was second and Larry Ten Voorde was third.

The first of the races takes place late on Saturday afternoon and the second takes centre stage on the circuit from 1140hrs (1340hrs Oman time) on Sunday.

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