ABU DHABI: Oman’s Al Faisal Al Zubair takes a 41-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship into the fourth round of the Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi this weekend
The Walter Lechner Racing driver has dominated the series thus far and taken seven wins from nine starts. A race win and two good finishes in Dubai last weekend enabled the GT3 racer to extend his series lead by another 12 points from second-placed Turkish driver Berkay Besler
Al Zubair’s performances, coupled with the results of fellow countryman Khaled Al Wahaibi, have enabled Team Oman to cruise into a massive 148-point lead over Team Sweden in the Team Championship heading into the remaining seven races and three race meetings of the championship that concludes in Bahrain at the end of March.
Consistent performances at the remaining races should enable Al Zubair to fend off any late challenges from the likes of Besler, American Michael de Quesada and Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer.
Al Wahaibi demonstrated the improvements he has made in a very short space of time in qualifying for the Dubai races last week, but the youngster admits that he now has to turn that pace and guile into race finishes and better performances in a racing environment.
Speaking ahead of the Abu Dhabi race weekend, Al Zubair said: “Two races only this weekend instead of three and I’m excited, but I am not a big fan of the track. Dylan (Pereira) is doing the race as well, so it will be high competition. I need to think about the championship.”
Al Wahaibi, who now lies equal fourth with Simmenauer in the Drivers’ Championship, added: “We struggled with pace in race two and three in Dubai and that is something we are looking into. There is such a small margin of error in qualifying, so you learn a lot very quickly. Yas Marina is the first one with two races. The approach going in will be the same as it was in Dubai. I will try and get the most out of what we can in the two test days before the race weekend. Typically we are pretty strong at the start. I finished P4 there last year. I am looking for more. It will be interesting.
“Dylan will be a great addition to the race and I will be able to measure my pace against someone like Dylan who has been on the Super Cup podium several times in the last two seasons. He was part of the front pack of the racers in Europe, so we can learn a lot from people like him.”
Position after Round 3:
1. Al Faisal Al Zubair (OMN) 217pts; 2. Berkay Besler (TUR) 176pts; 3. Michael de Quesada (USA) 165pts; 4. J.B. Simmenauer (FRA) 142pts; 4. Khalid Al Wahaibi (OMN) 142pts; 6. Saul Hack (RSA) 135pts; 7. Leon Koehler (DEU) 112pts; 8. Magnus Oehman (SWE) 107pts; 9. Christoffer Bergström (SWE) 104pts; 10. Isa Al Khalifa (BAH) 93pts.
Team Championship – Positions after Round 3:
1. Team Oman 359pts; 2. Team Sweden 211pts; 3. Team Bahrain 171pts.