Al-Zubair and Schiller round off International GT Open weekend with podium finish in race two in Hungary

Sports Monday 19/June/2023 12:03 PM
By: Times News Service
Al-Zubair and Schiller round off International GT Open weekend with podium finish in race two in Hungary

HUNGARORING (HUNGARY): Oman’s Al-Faisal Al-Zubair and German team-mate Fabian Schiller rounded off their International GT Open campaign with a second podium finish of the weekend at race two at the Hungaroring in Hungary on Sunday afternoon

The Al-Manar Racing by Getspeed Mercedes AMG GT3 crew had worked their way up from third place to lead at the driver changeover but the 20-second handicap imposed after they won race one would ultimately cost the duo a chance to challenge for victory in the second one-hour race.

They eventually finished just 1.055 seconds off the race winner in fourth but a penalty was later imposed on the AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 of Nicola Marinangeli and Riccardo Agostini that had originally finished second, promoting the Al-Manar car on to the podium.

Late victory in the 34-lap contest fell to the Oregon Team Lamborghini crew of Maximilian Paul and Pierre Louis Chovet. Marcos Siebert and Diego Manchaca snatched second in the Team Motopark Mercedes when Charlie Fagg and Samuel de Haan slipped back from first to fifth on the final lap in the Optimum Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3.

Al-Zubair said: “The car felt very good. Unfortunately, it is one of the toughest tracks to pass. It was a great weekend. P1 in race one and P3 with a 20-second handicap in race two. The car felt really amazing. It gave us confidence throughout the race. Unfortunately, with our 20-second handicap, because of our win on Saturday, we could not win again.

“It was extremely difficult to overtake on this circuit in the dirty air behind the cars. I came out in P6 and finished the race in P3. Great result and happy with the overall weekend and looking forward to more races after the summer break.”

Schiller qualified the Al-Manar Racing Mercedes for the shorter one-hour race on Sunday afternoon and the German carded a best lap of 1min 42.950sec that put the car third on the grid behind the pole-winning Eastalent Racing Audi R8 of Simon Reicher and Christopher Haase and second-placed Charlie Fagg and Samuel de Haan in their Optimum Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3.

Schiller made the perfect start and managed to pass Fagg and snatch second place on the opening lap. He tucked the Mercedes in behind Haase, although the Audi driver held his line and had edged into a 2.685-second advantage after four laps. The leaders held station through lap eight with the gap between the leading two remaining pretty constant at 2.761 seconds.

But Schiller’s patience was rewarded when he managed to pass the Audi and snatch the lead on lap 11. By the end of lap 12, the German had increased his advantage to 2.233 seconds as the driver changeover at the mid-point neared. Fagg also overtook Haase to secure second place.

Schiller extended his lead to 5.597 seconds through lap 17, as crews began pitting for driver changeovers. Al-Zubair took the helm on lap 18 although Fagg stayed out on the circuit for another couple of tours and the Omani temporarily slipped down to 10th and fourth of the Pro class cars.

With all the driver changes completed heading into the final 25 minutes of the race and with the handicap imposed, the Al-Manar Racing Mercedes remained down in ninth and sixth of the Pro cars and quickly climbed back to fifth, albeit 8.975 seconds adrift of De Haan in the leading McLaren with 20 minutes of the race to run.

Al-Zubair began to apply pressure on Marcos Siebert in the fourth-placed Mercedes AMG in a frantic bid to claw back a position with less than 15 minutes on the clock. Less than five seconds covered the top five Pro class cars, but Al-Zubair was not able to find a way through and the Al-Manar Racing duo finished their Hungarian race weekend with one victory and one third place.

2023 International GT Open – latest standings:

1. Charlie Fagg/Samuel de Haan 66pts

2. Marcos Siebert/Diego Manchaca 63ts

3. Christopher Haase/Simon Reicher 54pts

4. Al-Faisal Al-Zubair/Fabian Schiller 52pts, etc