Muscat: Talented Muscat racing driver Al Faisal Al Zubair achieved his target of climbing the overall Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East podium at Dubai Autodrome on Friday, with a sensational third place result during round three of the 2016-2017 season.
Producing tremendous pace in practice and qualifying, securing fourth on the grid for the first of the weekend’s two races in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the 18-year-old from Oman turned heads with a great drive in the opening contest which set the scene for a terrific result.
“It’s really good to finish in third and to be on the overall podium for the first time”, said an extremely happy Al Faisal. “We felt good from the start in testing, we knew we had good pace and then qualifying proved what we thought we were capable of. We were very strong in the race too.”
Arriving in Dubai with no prior experience of the track, the Porsche newcomer belied his lack of knowledge with great pace in testing and practice, running in among the lead contenders and setting the GCC Rookie pace.
Fast forward to qualifying, though, and the Omani stunned the paddock with the fourth best time overall of two minutes and 2.742 seconds (2:02.742) – just 0.3 seconds outside the coveted top three and also securing the teenager pole position in both the Rookie and Silver classes.
While the start to round three didn’t go to plan, Al Faisal slipping back to fifth place on the run into the first corner, contact ahead enabled him to get the undercut and slice through into second place behind pole qualifier Ryan Cullen.
Despite his own Porsche being tagged by one of the recovering cars, Al Faisal continued unabated and he and Cullen pulled clear of the rest of the pack with the Omani looking very impressive indeed behind his more experienced rival.
Frustratingly, though, a subsequent Safety Car period ultimately put his second place at risk and although maintaining position for the first few laps after the re-start, Al Faisal was edged back to, a nonetheless outstanding, third place. With the GCC Rookie win and Silver class victory too, round three was by far the best race yet in Porsche for the talented category newcomer.
“I had a bad start but the guys ahead went three wide, there was some contact and I was able to get the undercut and move into P2”, he reflected, “I stayed there behind Ryan [Cullen] and we opened a gap, I started to catch him too but then we had the Safety Car. It bunched everyone up and Charlie (Frijns) was really quick, I kept him behind for two or three laps but then we had to take third.”