PME Oman's Al-Zubair moves into Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge lead after second place in Bahrain
PORSCHE GT3 CUP CHALLENGE MIDDLE EAST
Races 9-10 – Sakhir Circuit, Bahrain, March 16-17, 2018
For immediate release
Saturday, March 17th, 2018
OMAN’S AL-ZUBAIR MOVES INTO PORSCHE GT3 CUP CHALLENGE
LEAD WITH SECOND PLACE IN RACE ONE IN BAHRAIN
· Khalid Al-Wahaibi retires after unfortunate sixth-lap accident in Bahrain
SAKHIR (BAHRAIN): Oman’s Al-Faisal Al-Zubair gave his chances of winning the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East a major boost by finishing second overall behind the experienced Dylan Pereira in the provisional results at the first of the weekend’s two races on Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit.
Al-Zubair qualified in second position and finished as the runner-up, despite a coming together with his main rival Tom Oliphant, which forced the Briton out of the race after two laps. Glynn Geddie finished a distant third, but the result means that the Omani leads the championship after nine races. Drivers can drop their two worst scores in the 12-race series.
Khalid Al-Wahaibi qualified as the third of the Silver category drivers and second of the rookies. He is battling with Sweden’s Magnus Oehman for the Silver series lead and was well clear of his rivals in the Rookie category. But the Omani retired after five of the 12 laps because of an accident following the introduction of the safety car. He had the consolation of nearest rival Oehman only picking up points for fifth amongst the Silver drivers.
Al-Zubair said: “I had an okay start. Dylan was quite quick and Oliphant was behind me. He came for the pass and went to the inside. I felt I gave him as much time as I could to turn up. I had to turn in. We had a bit of contact. It wasn’t anything. My car felt fine and I don’t know why he stopped. We were running side-by-side. It was not as if I hit him from the back.
“I continued the race and didn’t push that much on my new tyres. Now I need to play it safe now. It’s given my championship push a major boost with Tom not scoring any points. Thankfully, there was no-one putting me under any pressure and I manage to finish second.
Al-Wahaibi said: “I made a great start to the race coming from P8 to P5 in two laps. That was exactly what we wanted. I got in front of two cars off the start. I was aiming to close out the race in P5, or even P4, but it was not meant to be today. I got hit off into turn one after a restart and there was nothing I could do about it. These difficult times is where you learn from mistakes or bad things or learn to improve. Hopefully, we can do a bit better in the second race.”
Tom Oliphant won the morning’s practice session with a fastest lap of 2min 03.22sec during an eight-lap stint. Both Al-Zubair and Al-Wahaibi made cautious starts with the former carding a best time of 2min 03.810sec to slot into sixth position and Al-Wahaibi finishing 12th, seventh of the Silver drivers and second Rookie.
It was qualifying that mattered, however, and Al-Zubair delivered the good when it mattered to qualify in second position behind the experienced Dylan Pereira for the first of the races with a fastest time of 2min 02.745sec. Rival Oliphant was third and Charlie Frijns qualified in fourth.
A delighted Al-Zubair said: “It was a good qualifying session for the me with P2 and less than a tenth behind Dylan. I definitely should be happy with that. The car felt good. I came here to win. I have had the same mentality from the start of the season.”
Al-Wahaibi also showed a marked improvement in the qualifying session and his fastest lap of 2min 04.031sec gave him third of the Silver drivers behind Daniel Lu and Magnus Oehman and second Rookie.
The Omani rookie said: “Not a bad session. It was a big improvement from practice, which is positive. However, there is still a bit more time to gain. It is very close in the mid field. There are a few new drivers this weekend. I just wanted to move forward in the race.”
Race 10 in the 2017-2018 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East takes place on the Sakhir circuit on Saturday.
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