Muscat: Young Omani star Al Faisal Al Zubair came up with a flawless display in the Race 1 of Round 6 to emerge the champion of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East in Bahrain on Saturday.
All off 19 years and only in his second season, Al Faisal has achieved what others of age could only dream of and became the first Omani and only the fourth Arab driver to win the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East championship.
According to news posted on http://www.gt3me.com, a faultless race saw the Omani sensation win Race 1 in style. Taking maximum points in Round 6, which acts as the official support race to the 2018 Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix, Al Zubair added his name to the history books by winning the Season 9 title.
Starting on pole, Al Zubair was put under pressure at the first turn by Scotsman Glynn Geddie, but fought for his position and took the lead. The safety car was deployed in lap one, due to Christoffer Bergstrom spinning out into the barrier, and prevented the Omani from creating a gap. That didn’t trouble Al Zubair though, who powered away at the restart to produce a five second lead and drive flawlessly until the chequered flag.
Al Faisal jumped on to the Formula One podium, holding his trophy high over his head to a round of cheers from global motorsport fans at the circuit.
Al Faisal becomes one of four Arab drivers to win the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East championship, joining Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani, Saudi Arabia’s Abdulaziz Al Faisal, and Bahrain’s Salman Bin Rashid Al Khalifa as local talent that the series has already helped develop since its inception in 2009.
Commenting on the race and his resulting championship crowning, a delighted Al Zubair said: “Honestly, I feel amazing. My start wasn’t the best and I allowed Glynn Geddie to get very close to me in the opening corner. I managed to pull more of a lead after the following three turns -- my aim was to get as far out in front as possible and to not make any mistakes. Unfortunately, the safety car was deployed at that point, but I had a good re-start and pushed hard to re-gain the lead I had. We had the pace today and I crossed the line comfortably in first place.
“I’m over the moon with the win today, but more importantly the fact that I have secured the championship title! It’s my second year in the competition and I’m still only nineteen, so for me it’s a dream come true to bring the title back to Oman. I think I’m a great example of what the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East can do for young drivers; in my first race last season I finished in 9th place, while this season I’ve been competing for podiums and race wins. It just goes to show how much the championship develops you as a driver over a short period of time.”
It was a great day for the future of motorsport, as the podium was dominated by teenagers. Bahrain’s Isa Al Khalifa, another 19-year-old, gave a season’s best performance in front of his home crowd, battling his way from fourth on the grid to finish second. Behind him in third was Porsche Junior China driver Daniel Lu. In only this third race in the championship and at just 16-years-old, he gave Porsche fans a glimpse of what is to come.
Behind Lu, drivers were locked in a six-car battle throughout the race, which impressed the Formula One crowd in Bahrain.
Bahrain’s Isa Al Khalifa maintained his cool to finish fourth, ahead of Scotsman Glynn Geddie in fifth and Dutchman Charlie Frijns in sixth.
Team Bahrain also had more cause for celebration, as they took home the Team Category prize for the race too. As their first team win of the season, it seemed fitting for it happen at their home track - Bahrain International Circuit.
The final race of the season will take place on April 8 at 1530 local time, as a support race to the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix.