PCME Oman's Al-Zubair extends Porsche BWT GT3 series lead with another race win in Dubai
PORSCHE BWT GT3 CUP CHALLENGE MIDDLE EAST
Rounds 7-9 – Dubai, January 23rd-26th, 2019
For immediate release
Sunday, January 27th, 2019
OMAN’S AL-ZUBAIR EXTENDS PORSCHE BWT GT3 CUP CHALLENGE
LEAD WITH ANOTHER RACE WIN AT DUBAI AUTODROME
· Khalid Al-Wahaibi finishes fifth and eighth in races two and three
DUBAI (UAE): Oman’s Al-Faisal Al-Zubair clinched his seventh victory in eight races in the Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at the Dubai Autodrome on Saturday morning and followed up his second race win of the weekend with fourth place in the final 16-lap challenge.
The Walter Lechner Racing star now has a massive lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings in the regional series to take to the next round in Abu Dhabi next weekend. Fellow Omani Khaled Al-Wahaibi followed up his first career Porsche pole position with fifth overall in the second of the weekend’s races and eighth in race three.
Team Oman has now opened up a massive lead over their rivals for the Team Championship after yet another victory in Dubai, with a delighted Mohammed Al-Zubair collecting the trophy.
Al-Wahaibi was overtaken early in the second race by his Omani colleague and then slipped back to fifth at the chequered flag behind runner-up Jean Baptiste Simmenauer, third-placed Leon Koehler and Turkey’s Berkey Besler.
Saturday’s action began with the third of the weekend’s qualifying sessions for the final race in the afternoon. Leon Koehler claimed pole position during his eight-lap stint with a quickest tour of 1min 38.044sec, although a mere 0.26 seconds separated the top eight, with Al-Wahaibi down in eighth and Al-Zubair in fourth behind Besler and Jesse Van Kuijk.
Al-Zubair said: “I made a very good start, overtook at the first corner and opened up quite a big gap. I think I used my tyres a bit too much in the beginning. I tried to manage my pace in the end because Simmenauer was closing and it was close at the finish. But I was happy with the win. I touched a bit of debris on the track and it broke my splitter, but it was fine.
“Because the track is so short, the lap times in qualifying have been so close. I felt I was not really on it in the last qualifying and I was down to fourth.”
Al-Wahaibi added: “Third qualifying was very close, as close as it has been during the whole championship. Unfortunately, on my first lap, I locked up the tyres quite big into the first corner and I knew, after that, that I had to make the best of what I had. It was not ideal for me. I qualified in P8, two and a half tenths off. It was a good job with what we had.
“I started race two on pole after qualifying on pole on Friday. I got off the line pretty well but, being in this situation for the first time, I went a little bit too conservative into the first corner, broke a bit too early and Al-Faisal was able to pounce and take his opportunity. After that, we struggled with the car and the race pace in general. Now we have to sit and look at that and take out of it what we can. I wasn’t happy to cross the line in P5, but it happens and I need to learn from it.”
Koehler started the third Dubai race from pole position with Al-Zubair and Al-Wahaibi battling back from fourth and eighth places, respectively. After a tough race, Al-Zubair crossed the finish line in fourth place and Al-Wahaibi was eighth.
After race three, Al-Zubair said: “It was not an easy race. After I passed Jesse, it took too much time and the gap was too big. We were the fastest on track. We caught up, but I didn’t want to risk it for extra points. It was a bit annoying not being able to pass.”
Al-Wahaibi added: “I did not have the best start and lost a place to (Michael) de Quesada. After that, we pulled through. It was a bit messy. Saul (Hack) got past and I got past again. When I came up behind (Jesse) Van Kiujk, he slowed me down too much and forced me into a mistake and Saul got past again. We struggled with the race pace, as we did in race two, It is something we need to look into. This weekend could have gone a lot better.”
Action in the Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East resumes with two races at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi on February 1-2.
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