Al Zubair wins opening race of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Round 2 Season 9 at the Dubai Autodrome
Oman’s Al Faisal Al Zubair has claimed an outstanding victory in the first of two races at Dubai Autodrome this weekend in Round 2 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, as part of the UAE National Day series.
The race win is a huge achievement and highlights the rapid development of the rising star who is driving in only his second season in the region’s most professional championship. From pole position the Omani teenager secured victory with an accomplished and assured performance, for his second win in his series career.
The result means Al Zubair (67pts) is now second in the drivers’ standings and has narrowed the gap to only four points behind Tom Oliphant (71pts) of Great Britain going into Saturday’s race which marks the 100th race in the history of the prestigious series.
Today Al Zubair was followed over the line by current championship leader, Oliphant, who finished second. Germany’s Wolfgang Triller completed the podium places in a career best third and Dutch driver Charlie Frijns fourth.
Speaking after winning in Dubai, Al Faisal Al Zubair said: “It’s been a great day for me today, we set some really quick times to secure pole position in qualifying, and had a great start in the race which allowed me to pull a gap ahead of Tom Oliphant and Charlie Frijns. Charlie managed to overtake me on the second corner but I took the position back immediately and then pulled away again. The result helps me to build on my hopes of winning the championship this season and is a huge step for me once again.
“I think that the fact that I came into this championship last season with no experience in the Porsche cup car, started in the silver category, and now I am winning races in the gold category speaks volumes and shows just how much drivers like myself can develop their racing careers. I’ve worked really hard over the summer, and I am determined to keep improving, and keep surprising myself and my team. We will of course go for the same results tomorrow and hope to make it a perfect weekend in Dubai!”
The margin of the win, 4.67 seconds, would suggest the race win came easy to Al Zubair. But he was put under significant pressure in the opening laps, falling back to third on lap 1. His response was emphatic and immediate.
Behind Al Zubair, Oliphant drove consistently and will be satisfied to take second place and continue to lead the overall driver standings. Outside the top four the real action featured a tremendous tussle between those from fifth to eighth place which involved several international drivers making their debut in Dubai.
After changing position throughout the 14-lap race, Sweden’s Magnus Oehman eventually clinched a credible fifth having started in seventh. France newcomer Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer was sixth, South Africa’s Saul Hack, also making his debut was seventh and Khalid Al Wahaibi.
Speaking after the race, series founder and manager, Walter Lechner said: “What a fitting way to complete our 99th race. It embodied the spirit of the series and also pointed to its future strength. A hugely promising Omani teenager, who made his breakthrough in the championship just one year ago, takes pole and wins the race. This alone is an incredible feat. But look who follows him over the line. The top ten features drivers from Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, France, South Africa and Saudi Arabia.
“A decade ago when first envisaging a dedicated and world-class series for the region with Porsche this is exactly what we had in mind. I couldn’t be more proud to see this series flourish and the passion for Porsche racing grow across the region and the world.”
Tomorrow once again 17 drivers representing nine different nationalities will line up on the grid for a race that will mean so much to all involved in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East. The second race in Dubai sees the region’s most successful and professional one-make series reach a monumental milestone, as it marks the 100thrace in the history of the championship.
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East consists of six race weekends with 12 races over a period of six months. Following the second round the championship returns to Dubai for Round 3, before visiting Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit for Round 4. The final two rounds will be held in Bahrain, with the series coming to a thrilling conclusion as an official support race for the 2018 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.