PME Brace of third places for Al-Zubair to kick start Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East
PORSCHE GT3 CUP CHALLENGE MIDDLE EAST
Rounds 1-2 – Bahrain, November 16th-18th, 2017
For immediate release
Saturday, November 18th, 2017
BRACE OF THIRD PLACES FOR OMAN’S AL-ZUBAIR TO KICK-START
HIS PORSCHE GT3 CUP CHALLENGE MIDDLE EAST CAMPAIGN
· Race victories in Bahrain for Kuwait’s Ashkanani and England’s Oliphant
SAKHIR (BAHRAIN): Oman’s Al-Faisal Al-Zubair opened his challenge for honours in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East by finishing third in both races at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir.
The Lechner Racing Middle East driver shadowed Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani and England’s Tom Oliphant to the chequered flag in race one and finished in a similar position in a thrilling second race, where he was passed on lap eight by Oliphant, who also overtook Ashkanani on the penultimate lap to snatch the victory.
It means the Omani holds second position behind the Briton in the championship standings after race one, as Ashkanani was registered as a guest driver who does not score points.
Al-Zubair said: “Race two was a great fight. The top three were fighting and fighting. Unfortunately, something happened and I finished third. But it was a fun race and the same result as day one, but much more exciting for the spectators. I think my tyres were damaged a little in the last laps, I was locking up a little, and I dropped back a little. But I kept to third place and I am happy with that. It’s going to be a very exciting championship.”
Al-Zubair began race one from fourth position behind Ashkanani, Oliphant and Frijns and quickly managed to overhaul the Dutchman to gain third place. Over the course of the 12 laps he maintained his position behind Ashkanani and Oliphant to reach the chequered flag in the final podium position, 6.675 seconds behind the winner.
The Kuwaiti snatched the win by 0.709sec from the Briton and Saudi Arabia’s Fahad Al-Gosabi finished fourth at the expense of Frijns.
“It was a good start for me in a very good race, where I started fourth and finished in third,” said Al-Zubair. “I thought I could go for the lead at the start, but I decided to think more long-term and get the points for the championship. It’s a good thing that Zaid won, because he is a guest driver and took points from my two main rivals, Oliphant and Frijns. This race I started with used tyres.”
Al-Zubair started the second race behind Ashkanani and maintained his position through the opening turns, with Frijns in third place until Oliphant passed him. Al-Zubair began to pressurise Ashkanani through the next few laps, as Oliphant set a fastest lap and began to edge clear of Frijns and Al-Gosabi.
By lap four, the leading trio were locked together in a thrilling tussle and Oliphant and Al-Zubair swapped places briefly before the Omani regained his position. The enthralling three-way tussle continued and Al-Zubair continued to try and eke out a way to overtake the Kuwaiti, as Oliphant maintained the pressure in his slipstream. The leaders were neck and neck down the grandstand straight on lap six and Ashkanani somehow managed to keep his lead.
The trio held station through lap seven, but Oliphant found a way to overtake Al-Zubair and snatch second place on lap eight and Al-Gosabi overtook Frijns to take fourth. Ashkanani and Oliphant began to edge clear of the Omani and the Saudi, but a mistake by the Kuwaiti on the penultimate lap enabled Oliphant to squeeze through and snatch the win after a thrilling race.
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East now moves on to rounds three and four at the Dubai Autodrome on December 7-9.
For further information:
Firas Nimri, Tel: + 962 7 7728 2000, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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