ABU DHABI (UAE): Oman’s Al-Faisal Al-Zubair was involved in a collision and lost ground on rival Tom Oliphant at the second race of the fourth round of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina circuit.
The Briton won the race from Dylan Pereira and Charlie Frijns, but Al-Zubair finished seventh after being involving in a collision with Frijns that knocked him down to 18th position on lap one. Fellow Omani Khalid Al-Wahaibi reached the chequered flag in a fine fourth position to claim victory amongst the Silver drivesr and also win the Rookie and GCC categories.
Al-Zubair of the Lechner Racing Middle East Team qualified in second place behind Pereira, but it was not to be on a disappointing day for the talented driver, who retains second position in the points’ standings behind Oliphant.
Al-Zubair said: “Qualifying was good and I finished second, one tenth off pole, so I was happy with that, especially with the calibre of the drivers like Dylan. I knew I needed a good start and I went in and, on the first lap, I got hit by Charlie (Frijns). I spun and slipped back to 18th position. But I fought my way back to seventh place. It was a difficult race for me, but I am pleased to fight back so well.”
It was a much happier day for Al-Wahaibi: “Today was a really good one and a massive improvement from the first race. I qualified in P5 with a decent lap time and, from then on, I had a decent start to the race and stuck behind the top four of the Gold drivers. Quite a bit was happening in front of me and I knew I had to stay out of it.
“Unluckily, Al-Faisal was involved in an incident, which dropped him to the back of the grid. I managed to pounce on that opportunity and followed the leaders for the rest of the race to finish P4, first in Silver, first GCC and first Rookie. It was a perfect win. However, we keep on working and moving forward and I wish Al-Faisal better fortune in the next races.”
Al-Zubair missed Saturday morning’s practice session and that enabled Oliphant to card the quickest time of 2min 12.069sec, 0.608sec quicker than Pereira, with Glynn Geddie in third place. Al-Wahaibi was an impressive fourth and first of the Silver, GCC and Rookie drivers with a best tour of 2min 13.074sec.
Al-Zubair bounced back strongly with the second fastest time in the qualifying session behind Pereira. The Omani carded a quickest lap of 2min 11.343sec and missed out on pole by just 0.086sec. Oliphant and Frijns settled for third and fourth on the grid and Al-Wahaibi continued his rich vein of form with fifth, top Silver driver and leading Rookie with a fastest lap of 2min 12.661sec.
The ninth and 10th races in the series will take place at Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit on March 16-17th.