PME Oman's Al-Zubair shadows Oliphant to finish of second Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East race in Dubai
PORSCHE GT3 CUP CHALLENGE MIDDLE EAST
Rounds 3-4 – Dubai Autodrome, December 7th-9th, 2017
For immediate release
Sunday, December 10th, 2017
AL-ZUBAIR SHADOWS OLIPHANT TO FINISH OF SECOND DUBAI RACE
IN PORSCHE GT3 CUP CHALLENGE MIDDLE EAST SERIES
· Fellow Omani Al-Wahaibi spins out of eighth and reaches finish in 14th
· Al-Zubair and Al-Wahaibi qualify third and 13th for race two
DUBAI (UAE): Oman’s racing duet of Al-Faisal Al-Zubair and rookie Khalid Al-Wahaibi enjoyed mixed success in the second race at the second round of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at the Dubai Autodrome on Saturday afternoon.
Al-Zubair of the Lechner Racing Middle East team qualified in third position and moved up a place to finish runner-up to Britain’s Tom Oliphant. Al-Wahaibi finished the race in 14th position, having earlier qualified in 13th and climbed to eighth before colliding with another car and dropping back down the running order after a costly spin.
The result means that Oliphant and Al-Zubair have pulled clear of their rivals in the title race after two of six rounds. Germany’s Wolfgang Triller rounded off the podium places and Dutchman Charlie Frijns was fourth.
“It was a really good race and we were battling for the lead until the last lap,” said Al-Zubair. “I think Oliphant was gaining an unfair advantage and, without that, I think we would have won the race. He was not respecting the track limits and they gave him a penalty (five places on grid at next race). I am happy with P2, but we should have won the race. It’s tough to pass here, but it was a good battle and I managed to get passed Charlie and put the pressure on Oliphant.”
Al-Wahaibi said: “It was a great start and I managed to go from 13th to eighth after my bad qualifying. I was just behind the leading silver drivers once again and I wanted to build on that. I caught the guy in front (Isa Al-Khalifa) and began to put pressure on him and he made a mistake and I tried to take advantage of it. We were side-by-side for a few corners but we had contact at a left kink and I spun.
“This was disappointing after a great start. P6 and a top silver drive was definitely possible today. Races like this happen and you just have to learn from them and be better next time. Coming from P13 to P8 was great, so I take many positives away from this result.”
Qualifying and practice
Al-Zubair and Al-Wahaibi endured differing fortunes in qualifying for the second of the Dubai races. Al-Zubair stopped the clocks with the third fastest lap, but Al-Wahaibi was disappointed to qualify in 13th position. Pole position fell to Oliphant from Frijns, although Al-Zubair was the top GCC driver for the second day.
“Yesterday went all according to plan in practice, qualifying and the race and our goal was to finish in third for qualifying for the second race,” said Al-Zubair. “We were on used tyres. Now we were on an equal playing ground with the others with used tyres for everyone.”
Al-Wahaibi said: “Not so good for me in qualifying. I was hoping for a better result. But we had to work with this. I struggled a bit with the car but we made some changes for the race. It’s my first season so I need to learn to manage my tyres throughout the six rounds.”
Al-Zubair and Al-Wahaibi had been classified third and 10th in the morning’s practice session that was won by Oliphant.
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East returns to the Dubai Autodrome for the fifth and sixth races in the calendar on January 26th-27th, 2018.
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