Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East: Confident Al Faisal hopes to extend dominance

A file photo of Al Faisal al Zubair (inset) in action during the first round of the Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Series in Dubai last month

A confident Al Faisal al Zubair of Oman hopes to extend his overall series lead when he competes in the second round of the 2018-19 Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Series at the Bahrain  International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, on December 7-8.

The 20 year old Al Faisal currently holds a slender two-point lead in the drivers’ championship and began his title defence in the opening round, held in Dubai, with two race wins and a runner-up finish last month.

The results have given the Lechner Team Middle East driver a two-point advantage over his closest rival, Tio Ellinas of Cyprus. Fellow Omani racer, Khalid al Wahaibi, is placed overall fifth behind Al Faisal, Ellinas, third-placed American Michel de Quesada and Turkey’s Berkay Besler.

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A file photo of Khalid al Wahaibi (inset) competing during the first round of the Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East in Dubai last month

Khalid's consistent finishes in Dubai, coupled with Al Faisal’s results, earned Team Oman a 63-point lead over Team Sweden in the Team Championship with Team Bahrain in third place.

Looking ahead to the weekend, Al Faisal said, “I am excited and looking forward to the second round in Bahrain. It is a track and a country I love. The plan is to get as many wins as possible. I know it will not be easy. But I am ready for the challenge and confident of achieving my goals.

“I will not be able to do two days of testing because of my academic pursuits. I will arrive in Bahrain only on Thursday morning and will be able to do testing only later tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, Khalid was keen to improve upon his opening round display. He said, “I thought the round in Dubai was decent and I collected some good championship points. I want to keep on improving. We struggled in the first two races in Dubai but the third one was much better.

“I need to be focused and use every session to improve and keep getting faster. Hopefully I will be up there fighting for my maiden overall podium.

“This is my second season and the best result last year was a fourth. I have already matched that at the first round, so it is a positive sign for me.”

The second round got underway with test sessions on Wednesday and will continue on Thursday. Qualifying takes centre stage on Friday morning and the first of the weekend’s three races takes place later in the day.

Qualifying for the second and third races starts on Saturday morning and the remaining two races will be held later in the day.

Standings (after first round): 1 Al Faisal al Zubair (73pts), 2 Tio Ellinas (Cyprus, 71), 3 Michael de Quesada (US, 54), 4 Berkay Besler (Turkey, 52), 5 Khalid al Wahaibi (51).

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