Mexico City: Al Faisal Al Zubair rounded off his inaugural Porsche Mobil 1 Super Cup campaign with excellent 11th and 12th-placed finishes in the two races held in conjunction with the Mexican F1 Grand Prix at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit.
The two impressive points-scoring finishes in Mexico City lifted the Omani into 14th place in the final driver rankings at the end of his first Super Cup and gives him a strong foundation on which to build his strategy to try and finish inside the top three in the Porsche Middle East Cup this coming winter.
“It was very good to end the season on such a positive note here in Mexico, especially after not so good qualifying,” FZ Racing’s Al Faisal, who started both races from 17th positions, said.
“Finishing P12 in race two and P11 in the first race was amazing and good points for the championship. We finished in 14th position in the championship.
“The target at the start of the season was to be in the top 15. Coming into this weekend, we were 17th and I knew I needed two strong results. Not only did I achieve my target, but I also improved more than I thought. I think it’s a really good way to end my first season in the Super Cup. It’s also a positive way to prepare for the start of the Middle East Championship.”
Germany’s Michael Ammermuller arrived in Mexico City with a three-point lead in the Porsche Mobil 1 Super Cup standings over Norway’s Dennis Olsen and he extended that to five points heading into the final race after finishing second in the opening encounter behind the Australian Matt Campbell. Second position in race two - again behind the Australian - was sufficient for the Bavarian to confirm the prestigious title for the Lechner MSG Racing Team.
Olsen started from pole but lost two positions on the opening lap. Campbell gained the lead and maintained that advantage from Ammermuller and Olsen through the subsequent laps, as Al Zubair consolidated 17th position before moving up to 14th through lap five.
The yellow flag was raised on lap seven after an incident involving Robert Lukas and Florian Latorre, who came together, and the incident was under investigation from race officials.
Al Zubair maintained 14th position at the restart on lap eight and a fascinating tussle ensued between Ammermuller and Olsen for second position behind Campbell. Lukas spun out and Zaid Ashkanani spun on lap 10, as Campbell maintained his advantage ahead of the chasing group and Al Zubair continued his progression through the field to 12th.
Both Roar Lindland and Egidio Perfetti left the circuit on lap 13 and there was another incident that forced a yellow flag situation. Al Zubair benefited from the melee around him and managed to stay out of trouble to secure 11th position with Campbell taking the chequered flag from Ammermuller and Olsen. Ammermuller duly extended his lead in the championship to five points with one race to run. Only 24 of the original 30 starters finished the race.
Al Zubair said: “It was a very good race for me. I started from P17. Our realistic goal was to finish in the points but we actually finished 11th and P10 in the points. A top 10 finish is excellent for me, especially after starting from 17th. We start on new tyres for the second race. It was crazy and full of incidents in the race.”
Ammermuller took a five-point lead into the final race of the season and lined up in second on the grid for the 16-lap race ahead of Olsen and behind Campbell. Al Zubair started 17th in dry and sunny conditions.
Campbell made a good start and held the lead from his rivals through lap one, as Al Zubair retained 17th in traffic and moved up to 15th through lap two. Campbell and Ammermuller began to edge away from Olsen and the top five held station through the next few laps, although Al Zubair moved up to 14th on lap six.
By half-distance, Campbell continued to lead from Ammermuller, Olsen, Dan Cammish and Josh Webster, although the series leader began to close on the leading Australian. The German continued to pressurise Campbell in a bid to secure the title in style, as Al Zubair slipped back to 15th on lap 10. Cammish dropped from fourth to sixth place after hitting the barrier and damaged his GT3’s rear wing. He later pitted and retired and his demise lifted Al Zubair to 13th.
With three laps remaining, Campbell continued to lead from Ammermuller and a distant Olsen and the Australian held on to claim the win and second position was sufficient for Ammermuller to earn the 2017 Porsche Mobil 1 Super Cup title. Al Zubair reached the chequered flag in 12th place after passing Latorre late on before the Frenchman sustained a spectacular late engine failure.
The Omani driver now heads back to the Middle East to prepare for his winter season of Porsche racing in the Gulf.