Muscat: Omani star Al Faisal Al Zubair continued his domination of the GCC Rookie Class during the second and final Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East race of the weekend at Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, with his sixth class victory from eight races.
Going into round eight off the back of a double success in Friday’s encounter, winning both GCC Rookie and the Silver Class, the 18-year-old Omani experienced a less straightforward encounter on Saturday but showed great tenacity and racecraft.
Qualifying seventh fastest overall for round eight, securing GCC Rookie pole position and second in the Silver Class, the first year Porsche competitor battled through to a top five overall finish, victory in GCC Rookie and second position in the Silver Class.
In terms of the championship battles, with two race meetings still to run in Bahrain over the next couple of months, Al Faisal has moved into the top four of the overall standings and continues to lead the GCC Rookie fight as well as the Silver Class.
“I’m obviously very happy to have won the GCC Rookie Class again and P5 overall, from seventh on the grid, was a pretty good result,” said the Omani.
“Our pace was good again this weekend in Abu Dhabi and while I would have liked to have been a bit higher up the order in both races, it’s been another positive event for me and means we’re still in a very strong position in the championships.”
Holding on to first place in the GCC Rookie Class and second in Silver, Al Faisal climbed into the outright top six on the opening lap of round eight but had to keep an eye on his mirrors due to the increasing threat from Wolfgang Triller.
Edged back to third in the Silver Class and seventh overall on lap three by Triller, Al Faisal refused to be beaten and after pressuring the German driver over the next couple of tours he moved back into second in Silver and sixth overall on lap five.
Picking up his pace as the contest entered its second half, lapping with a best time of 2m15.547 seconds, the Omani youngster started to eat into the significant gap to the cars ahead which had developed when battling with Triller.
Set to remain sixth overall to the finish, Al Faisal was then elevated into fifth position at the end of lap 10 when outright race leader Charlie Eastwood pitted after being shown the black flag for an earlier indiscretion.
“The race wasn’t as straightforward as I hoped, but I’m satisfied with the result”, added Al Faisal, “In qualifying things didn’t go fully to plan, and the battle with Wolfgang (Triller) meant the guys in front managed to get away from us, but I’m confident I can be back closer to the overall podium battle when we return to Bahrain next month. That’s what I’ll be working towards.”
There is now a four week break in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East calendar with rounds nine and 10 taking place on March 10 and 11 respectively at Bahrain International Circuit.
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East GCC Rookie Standings (after Rd8): 1. Al Faisal Al Zubair, 131 pts.
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Silver Class Standings (after Rd8): 1. Al Faisal Al Zubair, 131 pts.
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Overall Standings (after Rd8): 4. Al Faisal Al Zubair, 131 pts.