PCME Third place for Oman's Al-Zubair in Porsche BWT GT3 opener in Abu Dhabi


Rounds 10-11 – Abu Dhabi, February 1-2, 2019

For immediate release
Saturday, February 2nd, 2019


· Khalid Al-Wahaibi finishes first race in fifth; Dylan Pereira takes the win
· Al-Zubair and Al-Wahaibi qualify second and seventh for Abu Dhabi opener

ABU DHABI (UAE): Oman’s Al-Faisal Al-Zubair opened his account at the fourth round of the Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi with a hard-earned third place in the 10th race of the season.

The result maintains the Walter Lechner Racing star’s comfortable lead at the top of the Drivers’ Championship standings, although closest rival Berkay Besler of Turkey did finish second in the night race behind Dylan Pereira and was able to reduce the Omani’s series lead from 41 to 39 points.

Khalid Al-Wahaibi qualified in seventh for the Abu Dhabi race opener and delivered an impressive racing display to climb to fifth at the chequered flag behind fourth-placed Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer. The performance enabled Al-Wahaibi to close to within two points of Simmenauer’s fourth place in the point’ standings.

The joint performances by Al-Zubair and Al-Wahaibi ensures that Team Oman head into the 11th of the season’s 16 races with a massive 160-point lead over Team Sweden in the Team Championship.

Al-Zubair said: “I made a bad start and he (Berkay) passed me. It just felt like I could not keep up in a few turns, so now I must come back strong and go for the win in the second race.”

Al-Wahaibi said: “It was a massive improvement for me from Dubai, where we really struggled with the race pace. The race pace was stronger here. We were quick towards the end and I am happy. With a few more laps, I think we could have made P4. We just need to qualify a bit better for the second race. I am pretty happy to start seventh and finish fifth.

“They caught us off guard with the start. We asked what style of start they were going to use. They said F1 and chose to do the other one. It caught me off guard and I went from P7 to P12 and then, into turn one, I had to go for it and give it everything otherwise we would have compromised a lot. I braked very late and went back into P6 and really had to work on the race. It was a night race, so the tyres were pretty cold and that also caught me a little off guard.”

Teams were permitted to carry out a free practice session before the first of the qualifying stints for Friday afternoon’s opening race.

A returning Dylan Pereira called upon all his Porsche Mobil 1 Super Cup experience to edge Al-Zubair out of pole position with a best lap of 2min 11.023sec during his six laps of the Abu Dhabi circuit. Al-Zubair was a mere 0.38 seconds behind in second place and his title rival Berkey Besler qualified in third. Al-Wahaibi settled into seventh on the starting grid with a best run of 2min 12.623sec.

“Qualifying was good, P2, so I am happy with that,” said Al-Zubair. “But the gap to Dylan was a bit bigger than I wanted. I expected him to be really quick, but I have to think about the championship. Second was a good starting position for me. I’ve never been a big fan of this race circuit, but that doesn’t really make a difference. We had a job to come and do.”

After qualifying, Al-Wahaibi added: “Compared to free practice, I thought I was going quite well until the last lap. We were around six-tenths faster but, coming into a right-hander, I made a mistake and tried to make up for it and touched a wall. In that corner, it is very close to the wall and you are always on the limit, but I went a bit beyond the limit on the third section at the exit on the hotel section and we lost all the time that we had gained. We could have been further up the field. It was unfortunate. It is what it is.”

The second of the qualifying sessions and race two were scheduled for Saturday.

Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East – positions after race 10:
1. Al-Faisal Al-Zubair (OMN) 238pts
2. Berkay Besler (TUR) 199pts
3. Michael de Quesada (USA) 165pts
4. J.B. Simmenauer (FRA) 161pts
5. Khalid Al-Wahaibi (OMN) 159pts
6. Saul Hack (RSA) 149pts
7. Christoffer Bergström (SWE) 119pts
8. Magnus Oehman (SWE) 118pts
9. Leon Koehler (DEU) 112pts
10. Isa Al-Khalifa (BAH) 106pts, etc

Team Championship – positions after race 10:
1. Team Oman 397pts
2. Team Sweden 237pts
3. Team Bahrain 194pts


For further information:
Firas Nimri, Tel: + 962 7 7728 2000, E-mail: nimrifiras@yahoo.com.
Twitter: @FZRacingOman
You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4nVWoO10jwWCwmgVHur2xw


Date issued: 02/02/2019

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