Dubai: Oman’s Al-Faisal Al-Zubair, Germany’s Luca Stolz and Austrian Martin Konrad wrapped up their first appearances together in the Asian Le Mans Series by finishing third and seventh in the two four-hour races at the Dubai Autodrome at the weekend.
Driving the Al-Manar Racing by Haupt Racing Team Mercedes AMG GT3 under the Omani national flag, Al-Zubair took the hot seat for the final session of the second race on Sunday to guide the GT3 to seventh place, after the trio had rounded off the podium places in race one on Saturday evening.
Al-Zubair said: “We had a good qualifying with P2 for both races. On Saturday, we converted P2 into P3 in the race. So that was a podium finish on our first race in Asian Le Mans. That was amazing.
“For the second race fortunes did not go on our side. It was great until the final hour. Unfortunately, we messed up something with the drive time. I drove a little less than the minimum, 45 minutes, and we had to come back to the pits. Because of that, we also had a drive-through penalty as well. I had to do the double stint. Finishing seventh is decent out of 24 but, knowing that we should have been on the podium, I am not really happy with the result to be honest. Hopefully next week we come back stronger in Abu Dhabi.”
The weekend’s action started strongly for the HRT Team in the first of two practice sessions on the 5.39km, 16-turn Dubai Autodrome circuit on Friday.
The Mercedes ran for 35 laps and clocked the second fastest lap in the GT class of 1min 58.324sec. Victory in the session went to the Getspeed Mercedes of Raffaele Marciello, Fabian Schiller and Florian Scholze.
The Getspeed Mercedes again topped the times in the second practice stint with a fastest run of 1min 58.105sec. Al-Zubair’s HRT car came home in sixth with a best tour of 1min 59.068sec.
Al-Zubair added: “Practice went off quite well. Martin (Konrad) was quite strong from the start, our bronze driver. We were all quite happy with Martin’s performance, myself and Lucas. We knew we had a good package.”
But the HRT crew saved their best performances for the qualifying session on Saturday morning and a fastest lap of 1min 58.016sec by Konrad enabled them to line up in second place on the grid for the evening’s first four-hour race. Pole position went to the Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M4, crewed for the weekend by Chandler Hull, Nicky Catsburg and Thomas Merrill.
The Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW actually managed to win the first race from pole position after finishing 112 laps 15.126 seconds in front of the Getspeed Mercedes. Al-Zubair, Stolz and Konrad rounded off the podium finishers with an excellent third place out of the 22 finishers in the GT class. The race started in bright sunshine and finished in darkness with the leading four crews completing 112 laps.
The HPT crew were also in good form during Sunday morning’s warm-up stint and set the second quickest lap in the session behind the TF Sport Aston Martin of John Hartshorne, Jonathan Adam and Henrique Chaves.
Konrad lined up in second on the grid for the start of the second of the weekend’s four-hour races. The team held a top four place for long periods, but dropped back to seventh after the timing mix-up and the drive-through penalty and maintained the position to the finish after completing 109 laps.
Victory in the second of the races again fell to the Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW, while the Getspeed Mercedes was second and an AF Corse Ferrari came home in third.
Races three and four in the Asian Le Mans Series take place at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi next weekend.