OMAN’S AL-ZUBAIR AND AL-WAHAIBI FINISH THIRD AND SEVENTH IN OPENING PORSCHE GT3 CUP CHALLENGE SERIES RACE IN ABU DHABI

ABU DHABI (UAE): Oman’s Al-Faisal Al-Zubair and Khalid Al-Wahaibi will be hoping to improve in race two after finishing third and seventh in the first of the two Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East races at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina circuit on Friday.

Al-Zubair of the Lechner Racing Middle East Team finished 7.064 seconds behind race winner Dylan Pereira, while series leader Tom Oliphant extended his points’ advantage over the Omani with the runner-up spot. Al-Wahaibi was classified in seventh place, second of the Silver drivers and first rookie to the chequered flag.

Dutchman Charlie Frijns finished fourth and Bahrain’s Issa Al-Khalifa won the Silver category and rounded off the top five.

Al-Zubair said: “Qualifying was not great. We got a puncture and the tyre came off the rim. I was only able to finish sixth, which was good with the problem we had. The race was good and I was closing on every lap. It was really good. I think third was an amazing job under the circumstances.”

Al-Zubair and Al-Wahaibi were third and fifth quickest in Friday morning’s free practice session in a stint won by Oliphant from Pereira. The Briton clocked a fastest time of 2min 11.438sec and that was a mere 0.137sec quicker than his main Omani rival.

Qualifying took on extra significance and the experienced Pereira came to the fore to claim pole position with a fastest time of 2min 10.893sec from Oliphant and Frijns. It was a disappointing session for Al-Zubair and he qualified in sixth position, just ahead of fellow countryman Al-Wahaibi, who was seventh and a mere 0.038 seconds behind Al-Zubair. Eighteen drivers took part in the session.

“Qualifying was a decent effort on a very difficult track on a long lap,” said Al-Wahaibi. “It’s difficult to put it together. You can see the split between the experienced drivers and the ones in their first season.

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