PSC Team tyre choice error costs Al-Zubair and Al-Wahaibi dearly at Hockenheim
PORSCHE MOBIL 1 SUPER CUP
Round 5 – Hockenheim, July 19-22, 2018
For immediate release
Saturday, July 21st, 2018
OMAN’S AL-ZUBAIR AND AL-WAHAIBI STRUGGLE AFTER TYRE CHOICE ERROR AND TRICKY TRACK CONDITIONS FOR PORSCHE QUALIFYING AT HOCKENHEIM
· Yelloly pips Pedersen, Drudi and Preining in thrilling qualifying session
HOCKENHEIM (GERMANY): Oman’s Al-Faisal Al-Zubair and Khalid Al-Wahaibi struggled to make headway in a tense and unpredictable qualifying session on a tricky wet track surface for the fifth round of the Porsche Mobil 1 Super Cup at the Hockenheim Grand Prix Circuit on Saturday.
Al-Zubair of the Lechner Racing Team Middle East team had been inside the top 10 for a couple of minutes in the topsy-turvy session, but had to settle for 26th place with a best lap of 1min 54.083sec. Slick tyres proved to be the potent combination in the final minutes on a drying track and the team made an error by not letting the Omani out on to the track on the correct rubber in the final minutes.
Al-Wahaibi struggled to make headway in his maiden wet qualifying session and carded a best tour of 1min 58.845sec to qualify in 30th after also falling foul of the team’s call to keep him out on wet tyres on a drying track where slick tyres were the obvious option.
The lead swapped hands numerous times as track conditions and tyre changes caused havoc. England’s Nick Yelloly saved his best until last to snatch pole with a lap of 1min 43.379sec from Mikael Pedersen and Mattia Drudi. Defending champion Michael Ammermüller of Germany slipped to fifth in the final minute after leading for much of the session.
Al-Zubair said: “The second part of qualifying, everyone went on slicks and I went on wets. I asked again and again to go on slicks and did not really get a proper response from the team. They made the mistake today and I could do nothing about that. Now I am starting from the back and will have to work through the field. I think we can still finish in the points.”
Al-Wahaibi added: “It was a very tricky qualifying that started in wet conditions. This was my first time ever in the wet in a Porsche Cup car. In the wet, I started to learn a lot. We made a huge step forward.
“Towards the end of the session it was starting to get dry and we, as a team, made a wrong call not to go out on slicks. That proved to be clinical and everyone went eight seconds faster. I was still on wets and that compromised qualifying. There’s nothing we can do about it now, but we need to learn from it as a team and make sure these decisions are not made again.”
Qualifying took place on a drying 4.574km track after heavy morning rain. Ammermüller laid down the gauntlet with an opener of 1min 56.193sec and Al-Zubair broke the two-minute barrier to hold 15th after two laps.
Ammermüller improved with a 1min 55.952sec on his next lap and then pitted, as Al-Zubair and Al-Wahaibi languished in 22nd and 24th positions with 21 minutes of the session remaining. Al-Zubair improved with a run of 1min 59.340sec to move up to 19th, but Al-Wahaibi pitted for a tyre change after five laps.
With 15 minutes of the session remaining, Ammermüller’s earlier lap time continued to lead the way from Larry Ten Voorde and Josh Webster, as Al-Wahaibi returned to action and Al-Zubair pitted with the pair in 29th and 20th positions.
Al-Wahaibi moved up to 21st with an eighth lap of 1min 59.305sec and Al-Zubair moved back to 22nd, but numerous drivers were returning to the pits for tyre changes and tyre pressure adjustments. Several drivers also opted for slick tyres instead of wets for the closing minutes of the session.
Preining snatched pole position with a lap of 1min 55.948sec with a little over eight minutes remaining and Ammermüller pitted for a slick tyre change after rookie Alberto Cerqui snatched second place at the expense of the German. Al-Wahaibi and Al-Zubair were 22nd and 24th heading into the last six minutes.
The tyre change worked superbly and Ammermüller stormed into pole again with a run of 1min 52.748sec, only to be displaced by Jaap Van Lagen, Latorre, Dylan Pereira and Tom Sharp. As Ammermüller ran even quicker to regain the lead with a lap of 1min 47.605sec, Al-Zubair climbed to 12th with a run of 1min 54.083sec.
Preining regained the advantage with 2min 45sec of the session remaining, but his lead was short-lived and a 1min 46.080sec by Ammermüller re-established the German’s lead. Al-Zubair slipped back to 18th and Al-Wahaibi was 29th.
With less than a minute remaining, Pereira snatched pole and Ammermüller went faster again in 1min 45.421sec, only for Julien Andlauer and Mattia Drudi to displace the German in a thrilling climax. Nick Yelloly then saved his best until last to card a 1min 43.379sec to claim pole from Pedersen, Drudi, Preining and a disappointed Ammermüller.
Al-Zubair and Al-Wahaibi were demoted to 26th and 30th places.
Ammermüller pipped Latorre to the fastest lap of 1min 41.907sec during the training session on Friday evening, the German winning the session by 0.199 seconds. Birthday boy Thomas Preining, Zaid Ashkanani and Larry Ten Voorde filled the remaining places in the top five.
Al-Zubair ran for 20 laps and was classified in 15th with a best tour of 1min 43.237sec, while Al-Wahaibi carded a best lap of 1min 44.157sec during his 21 laps on the circuit and that put him in 24th position amongst the 31 entrants.
The fifth round of the prestigious racing series fires into life at 11.05hrs on Sunday morning.
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