PCME Oman's Al-Zubair claims second successive Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Middle East title
PORSCHE BWT GT3 CUP CHALLENGE MIDDLE EAST
Rounds 15-16 – Bahrain, March 29-31, 2019
For immediate release
Sunday, March 31st, 2019
OMAN’S AL-ZUBAIR CONFIRMS SECOND PORSCHE BWT
GT3 CUP MIDDLE EAST TITLE WITH ONE RACE TO SPARE
· Khalid Al-Wahaibi reaches chequered flag in fifth; race win for Besler
SAKHIR (BAHRAIN): Oman’s Al-Faisal Al-Zubair has clinched the Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East title for a second successive season with eighth position at the penultimate race of the series at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain.
The Walter Lechner Racing driver arrived for the weekend’s action, being held in conjunction with the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix, with a 41-point lead in the championship over Turkey’s Berkey Besler and his eighth finishing position in the first 10-lap race gave him an unassailable lead in the 16-race series.
The Omani knew before the race started that a cautious finish would secure the title and he becomes the first driver to win back-to-back championships.
Besler claimed maximum points for the race win to finish as the series runner-up after pole sitter Tio Ellinas was penalised for a jump-start. Dylan Pereira reached the chequered flag in second place and Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer rounded off the podium positions and secured third in the series.
A delighted Al-Zubair said: “I was really cautious in that race, only 10 laps but it felt like 30 laps. I just made sure that I finished the race. On the last two laps I wasn’t even touching the kerb just to make sure everything was fine. I am very happy.
“Hopefully I can go on to win the second race. My start was actually good, but I was with people coming to fight at turn one and I thought it was not my place. I just needed to finish top 12 and P8 was okay. Race two, I will start front row and it will be all or nothing.”
Al-Wahaibi finished in fifth place after qualifying in sixth and is locked in a battle with Saul Hack for fourth place in the final points’ standings. The second Team Oman driver said: “It was quite a good race - P6 in qualifying. We have some top champions here this weekend with (Julien) Andlauer and Ellinas and Pereira coming back. Congratulations to Al-Faisal on his second title.
“Qualifying went quite well and I had a good start. However, midway through the race, I had quite a bad lock-up coming down the hill and it was then a case of managing the tyres to the end. I think we did quite well to come back in P5. I am hoping for more in race two.”
With only one qualifying session over the weekend and the fastest two laps counting as qualifying times for the two races, the session took on additional importance.
Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion Tio Ellinas claimed the fastest lap of 2min 01.81sec during the session and he was followed by Pereira and Besler, with Al-Zubair carding the fourth quickest lap to book himself that slot on the grid for race one. Al-Wahaibi slotted into sixth behind Leon Koehler.
Ellinas’s second fastest time earned him pole for the second race as well, with Al-Zubair moving up to second on the grid for race two, ahead of Besler and Pereira, and Al-Wahaibi slipping to eighth.
“Qualifying was not easy,” added Al-Zubair. “We were aiming for double pole but we did not get that. If you start on the front row, you are able to fight with the faster guys, but I was able to relax. It all worked well.”
Al-Wahaibi said: “Qualifying was quite different to the other weekends we have had this season. Two timed laps and the second one determined pole position for the second race. You had to go in with quite a different mentality and make sure that you did not lock up your tyres and make any mistakes on your first push lap. You had to keep pushing and manage the tyres for the second push lap. I think it went quite well.”
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