Barcelona, Spain – Oman’s Al Faisal al Zubair, German team-mate Fabian Schiller and Zimbabwe’s Axcil Jeffries rounded off their first season together in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS – Endurance Cup by finishing in fourth place in the Silver Cup category at the season finale in Barcelona.
The Al Manar Racing by HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 crew had qualified ninth for the last three-hour race of the season. They climbed four places in the race to cross the finish line in fourth with victory going to Silver Cup category champions, Benjamin Goethe, Thomas Neubauer and Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer.
The champions overtook the Garage 59 McLaren 720S GT3 of Vargas Maldonado, Dean MacDonald and Nicolai Kjaergaard in the last hour, while the Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini crew of Mick Wishofer, Stuart White and Konsta Lappalainen finished third.
The result also confirmed that the Al Manar Racing trio finished fourth in the final Silver Cup Drivers’ Championship.
Reflecting on the race weekend, Al Zubair said: “That’s the end of the season for us and definitely not the way we wanted to end it. Testing was really good and we finished first in pre-qualifying. Qualifying really sent us lower on the grid and we started P25 (all cars) and P9 nine in Silver.
“We moved up to P4 and 14th overall. The race was really good. I drove the first stint and went from about 25th to 20th and my team-mates did a great job to get us further up. So close to a podium, but just not quite. A good season overall and we hope to go further next year.”
The Al Manar Racing trio were classified in eighth after the free practice session on Saturday morning, with a best lap of 1min 45.771sec putting them just under a second off the pace of Silver Cup pace-setters, Nicolas Baert, Cesar Gazeau and Aurelian Panis.
Al Zubair, Jeffries and Schiller were the fastest of the entire field through the pre-qualifying session on Saturday afternoon that preceded the three qualifying stints on Sunday morning. Schiller clocked a hot lap of 1min 45.398sec to win the session.
Pro Cup cars dominated the upper reaches of the Q1 results. Goethe, Neubauer and Simmenauer were the quickest of the Silver Cup crews with a best lap of 1min 45.457sec. The Al Manar Racing Mercedes finished the stint in 13th, albeit less than a second off the winning tour.
Silver Cup runners, Maldonado, MacDonald and Kjaergaard, topped all the Q2 times in their Garage 59 McLaren 720S GT3, in a short stint where the Al Manar Racing Mercedes stopped the clocks in sixth.
Those two heats put a little pressure on the team to improve in Q3, where Maldonado, MacDonald and Kjaergaard were classified in second and again topped the Silver Cup times to claim pole position. The Al Manar Racing trio came home in seventh and, when the three heats were combined, found themselves lining up in ninth place on the grid for the three-hour race.
Al Zubair and Jeffries drove well during the first two stints of the race to push the Al Manar Racing Mercedes up the Silver Cup field into fifth place after 90 minutes of the race and they continued their momentum after Schiller took over for the final stint. With 30 minutes of the race to run, the Mercedes AMG GT3 had climbed to fourth place and the German managed to cross the finish line in fourth.