Muscat: Oman’s talented racer Al Faisal al Zubair is all set for a new challenge this season as he has signed up with Lechner Racing to debut in the highly-competitive endurance series – 2021 International GT Open Championship.
Al Faisal will team up with an experienced driver, Andy Soucek of Spain, and the duo will drive a Porsche GT3-R as they bid to provide a tough competition to their rivals, which features some of the world’s best endurance racers and teams.
The International GT Open will hold its 16th season since starting in 2006 and the seven-leg series will be begin the season with a race at the Paul Ricard circuit in France on May 16. The series concludes in Barcelona on October 24.
Al Faisal’s return to a full-fledged series is a welcome development since motorsports across the globe were affected due to the coronavirus pandemic from early March in 2020.
He now joins another Omani star, Ahmad al Harthy, in endurance racing and will be competing in the top Pro class at the GT Open.
With Ahmad having established himself as an endurance racing, Al Faisal’s entry will put Oman drivers in focus at the top stage and boost the Sultanate’s profile in international motorsports.
Al Faisal’s last participation was at the Silverstone Formula One circuit in October last when, participating for the first time in the British GT Championship, he along with Croatia’s teammate Martin Kodric, claimed a Silver Cup class podium finish and an overall fourth spot.
Revealing the details of his participation in the 2021 International GT Open Series, the 22 year old two- time former Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East champion said, “I am excited to go for a new endurance series for the first time. It will be a new challenge and I am looking forward to it along with my teammate Andy [Soucek]."
Though Al Faisal has in the past competed in endurance races, this is the first time that the Muscat-based driver will be participating in a complete endurance championship series.
Till date since he began his motorsports career, Al Faisal had the opportunity to race in three endurance races – Abu Dhabi 12Hr, Dubai 24Hr and the British GT where he took a podium in silver class last year.
Al Faisal said, “It is going to be a new experience and with a large grid and some of the best endurance racers in the field with big professional teams, I am eager to provide a healthy competition on my debut season.
We will compete but it will be difficult to challenge for the overall championship title. We are hopeful of having good races and then taking each race as it comes.”
Al Faisal will be racing in No77 car with all new black and red livery for the Porsche GT3-R car. The new design further enhances the beautiful lines of the Lechner Racing.
Tribute to Walter Lechner
Al Faisal said that he had fruitful talks with Lechner Racing and the Omani paid rich tributes to his mentor and Lechner Racing founder, Walter Lechner, who passed away last year.
“He had played a big role in my motorsports career and it would be nice to pay a tribute by racing for his team in the new championship. That’s the best way he would have liked me to continue with the sport he loved the most,” said Al Faisal, who is fully backed by Oman-based Al Manar Financial Investments.
Testing and opener postponed
Meanwhile the organisers, GT Sport, on Friday said that the Winter Test for its International GT Open scheduled from March 18-20 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, has been postponed to April 19-20, at the same venue.
The measure was taken in light of the travel restrictions taken, or recently reinforced, by different countries, which make travel virtually impossible for drivers, teams and personnel from a number of countries targeted by specific restrictions.
Prior to the rescheduling of the test sessions, GT Sport announced that the cancellation of 2021 season-opening round of the International GT Open, scheduled at the Autódromo do Algarve in Portugal on April 23-25 and replaced by a round at the
Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari at Imola on July 23-25. The event at Imola will be the fourth in the 2021 season, which will now kick-off at Circuit Paul Ricard on May 14-16.