GULF12 Oman's Al-Faisal Al-Zubair impresses in first endurance race challenge in Abu Dhabi
GULF 12 HOURS
Yas Marina Circuit, December 12th-14th, 2019
For immediate release
Sunday, December 15th, 2019
OMAN’S AL-FAISAL AL-ZUBAIR IMPRESSES IN FIRST
ENDURANCE RACE CHALLENGE IN ABU DHABI
ABU DHABI (UAE): Oman’s Al-Faisal Al-Zubair and team-mates Maximilian Götz and Dominik Baumann missed out on a potential victory at the Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi after their Mercedes GT3 AMG was forced to take on extra fuel and then suffered an engine coil issue shortly before the finish of the first half of the race at the Yas Marina circuit.
The trio were racing in the HTP Motorsport Team, with Al-Zubair making his debut appearance in a major endurance race. They had qualified the GT3 AMG on pole position and looked on course for a remarkable result until they slipped back to fifth place at the half-way point behind two Attempto Racing cars, GPX Racing and Iron Lynx.
After an interval, action resumed with the second six-hour stint that ended just before midnight on Saturday evening. The HTP Motorsport trio eventually completed 301 laps of the demanding circuit and came home in 12th place and fourth in the GT3 P class after further engine issues cost them vital time.
First and second places fell to the Attempto Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 cars with Moto GP racer Valentino Rossi joining forces with the Monster VR46 Kessel team to snatch third place in a Ferrari 488 GT3.
Al-Zubair said: “The weekend was up and down. We started really good and practice was amazing. We were fast and always in the top three. Qualifying was the average of three drivers and we got pole position. Starting on pole for my first ever endurance race was something to be very proud of.
“For almost five hours we were leading the race, showing strong pace and everyone was very consistent. When the chequered flag came out, we had a problem with the engine coil and that took us out of contention to win. Then, we went back to fifth. We had a chance to finish on the podium, but then we had another engine problem. It was bad luck after bad luck.
“Saying that, there were a lot of positives to take out of it and hopefully we will have a better next race.”
HTP Motorsport’s pole position was a terrific achievement earned when the average time of the three 15-minute driver qualifying sessions were added together.
The race attracted 30 teams in the various classes and Götz, 33, drove in the first session and continued to lead through the opening laps and throughout the first sector.
The team lost the lead by not pitting during a brief safety car period and suffered further troubles when an enforced fuel stop pushed them down to fifth and Baumann experienced an ignition coil issue on the final lap.
Audi’s first win in the nine-year history of the Gulf 12 Hours was secured in the second half. The lead car was handed an early Stop-Go penalty for a pit lane infringement, but that was served as the safety car was called after an on-track collision between the Iron Lynx Ferrari and Optimum Motorsport’s Aston Martin Vantage. As the two leading Audis swapped positions to confirm a 1-2 finish, the HTP Motorsport car came home in 12th.
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