Omani driver takes commanding lead in GCC Porsche Rookie Championship
Al Zubair sixth in race 2 of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Season 8 at Dubai Autodrome
Oman’s promising young racing driver Al Faisal Al Zubair has finished sixth in the second race of Round 2 of Season 8 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at the Dubai Autodrome.
Against a fiercely competitive 16-car grid representing 12 different nationalities the Omani teenager drove solidly and out muscled rival in the silver category Wolfgang Triller of Germany. Sixth position was good enough to win the new GCC Porsche Rookie category and finish second in sliver behind Saudi Arabia’s Bandar Alesayi.
Speaking after a weekend of racing in Dubai for Round 2 which has taken Al Zubair 18 points clear in the GCC Porsche Rookie category he said: “I didn’t have the best start and lost a position early on, I kept the speed and managed to catch Wolfgang Triller and take the position back shortly after. With us battling I think this slowed us down and increased the gap between us and the guys in front.
“I pushed hard but Bander had built up a strong lead and I didn’t have much time remaining. Second in the silver category and first in the Porsche GCC Rookie category is still another great result and I am very pleased with the weekend on a whole. I now look forward to returning here in January and keeping the winning momentum going.”
Ahead of Al Zubair, Qatar-based driver Charlie Frijns claimed a sweet victory to win
After waiting three years to win his first race, Frijns returned to the top step of the podium for the second time in the opening four races of Season 8. The Doha-resident started in race from pole position and dominated from the front of the grid to cross the line and take the chequered flag by the significant margin of 6.137 seconds ahead of Britain’s Tom Oliphant who finished second.
Championship contender and winner of the previous day’s race in Dubai, Ryan Cullen of Ireland held onto the final place on the podium in third, managing to keep rival Dylan Pereira of Luxembourg at bay behind. Pereira finished fourth with UAE-based driver Bashar Mardini continuing to improve across his debut season in eighth position.
Following another outstanding triumph for Frijns, having won in Bahrain on the opening weekend, he said: “I had a really good start but as I approached the first turn my tires weren’t hot enough and I made a small mistake which allowed Ryan Cullen to overtake. I kept very close behind Ryan and continued to apply the pressure, in the second lap I managed to overtake and take back the spot at the front of the pack. Over the next couple of laps I managed to extend my lead and I just had to focus and make sure I didn’t make any mistakes.”
For fans the second race in as many days in Dubai more than made up for the disappointment of the opening race which featured the deployment of the safety-car. The second race was clean and showcased Porsche GT3 Cup racing at its very best, delivering for fans the high-octane action that the region’s most professional series has become known for.
Blustery conditions, a packed grid and drivers engaged in battles throughout made it a hard earned victory for Frijns over twelve laps especially after falling behind rival Cullen on the first corner opening lap. But he soon regained his composure and drove flawlessly from the second lap to take a memorable win over the most competitive and international grid in the series history featuring 16 drivers from 12 different countries.
Just outside the main podium the top six positions were completed by Pereira fourth, Saudi Arabia’s Bandar Alesayi in fifth and rookie star Al Faisal Al Zubair of Oman in sixth.
Over the last two days Dubai has welcomed one of the biggest grids in the history of the series thanks to a host of fresh new faces making their full debut. Almost half of the drivers, to line up at the Autodrome were completely new to the grid, marking an exciting new chapter for Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East. It is a fitting tribute to the strength, global reputation and momentum of the championship has gained over eight seasons.
Following a winter break, fans can expect more of the same on 27th – 28th January 2017 as the next race returns to the Dubai Autodrome for Round 3 before heading to Yas Marina Circuit Round 4 on 10th – 11th February 2017.