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Omani driver prepares for return to the track in Dubai

Al Faisal reflects on winter break as Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East returns to the track

The Middle East’s top racing drivers are progressing into a critical new phase as the region’s most professional racing series, the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East (GT3CCME), looks ahead to another year of competitive action with four rounds remaining in Season 8.

Across the two opening rounds in 2016, Season 8 has proven to be one of the most exciting and most competitive editions of the series so far with many of the drivers identifying time spent over the winter break, as key in their preparations for honours in 2017. With experience and expectations suggesting little will separate the top racers come the end of the season, how the past few race-less weeks have been spent by the drivers could be the difference in edging their competitors in the race to victory.

For Omani teenager Al Faisal Al Zubair, the winter break has offered the perfect opportunity to reflect on what has been an incredible opening couple of rounds for the young driver. Currently leading both the Silver category and the new Porsche GCC Rookie championship, the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East debutant has laid down a huge statement of intent to the rest of the grid.

The talented Al Zubair has used this time during the winter break to focus on specific areas that he knows could potentially give him the edge over some of his opponents over the remaining rounds.

Al Faisal Al Zubair said; “I have tried to use the time away from the track as productively as possible. I haven’t been able to get myself into a car, but keeping mentally and physically prepared for me is just as important. I have been doing lots of running and spending time in the gym, performance in the car can be surprisingly better if you are fit and keep in shape. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the opening two rounds, analysing my performances over and over again. The good thing is that there is more positives than negatives at this stage and I am really looking forward to trying to continue the strong form in 2017.” 

While some drivers have seized every opportunity to remain in their cars across the past month, others have taken the winter break as an opportunity to relax from the high-pressure competition. Only time will tell who made the best decision for their driving needs.

What is certain is that the competition has never been tighter with the top two Gold category leaders Charlie Frijns and Ryan Cullen, tied on points, while in the silver category, Oman’s Al Faisal Al Zubair heads Bandar Alesayi of KSA by just three points. It’s a similar story in bronze where Magus Ohman is just five points ahead of Isa S. Al Khalifa placing ever more emphasis on the winter break strategy.

Commenting on the end of the winter break and the return of regional racing action in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, founder and organiser Walter Lechner said, “Many of the drivers have taken different approaches to the winter break, some have aimed to get away from the track and refresh their minds. For others they don’t want to let go for a second and have focussed on maximising opportunities in their cars. There is no right or wrong but with the leaderboard so close across every category it will be very easy to see who has made the right decision and we don’t have to wait too long to find out. It’s another great part of this series and will add more excitement to what has already been an action packed few rounds.”

The GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East is based on the highly successful Porsche formula for one-make series racing. The championship was created to give the region’s home-grown driving talent an opportunity to realize their racing potential while enhancing personal circuit experience and is well established as the most exciting, successful and professional one-make series on the regional motor racing calendar. Launched in 2009, the championship is currently in its landmark seventh season, featuring the region’s leading drivers, all competing in the powerful and dynamic Porsche 911 GT3 Cup on the Middle East’s world-class circuits.

For racing fans in the UAE, the return of the spectacular Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East to the Dubai Autodrome this week January will provide the perfect opportunity to follow the championship from the stands, and witness the exhilarating Porsche action first hand.

The championship will not move far for Round 4, remaining in the UAE as drivers descend on the popular Yas Marina, Formula One circuit in Abu Dhabi to mark the halfway stage of the season on 10th -11th February. Bahrain will welcome the drivers back to the home of the Porsche GT3 CCME series for the remaining two rounds, with Round 5 taking place on the 10th -11th March and Round 6 taking place in April 2017 in the form of the Bahrain F1 support race.

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Bahrain International Circuit

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Bahrain International Circuit

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