Dream double for Al Faisal
Oman’s teenager Al Faisal al Zubair couldn’t have wished for a better birthday celebration. The 19 year old completed a dream debut season in the highly-competitive Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Series at the famed Formula One circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain on Sunday.
Al Faisal’s overall fourth-place finish in the 12th and final race of the series was enough to get him the glittering Silver Cup, which added sparkle to his title win in the GCC Rookie Class.
A dream double was a perfect gift for the talented Omani racer, who celebrated his 19th birthday on Monday.
Lifting the trophies at the F1 circuit as the series’ sixth and final round that served as a support race for the Bahrain Grand Prix was a ‘proud moment’ for Al Faisal, who impressed in the series with his pace and determination throughout the 12 races, which began in November.
Sunday’s performance had Al Faisal record the season’s sixth win in Silver class and the ninth victory in GCC Rookie class to seal both the crowns with a total of 192 points. It followed his spectacular overall win in the penultimate round on Saturday.
“It was probably the most amazing race I’ve ever done,” said Al Faisal.
“The top four were all bunched up and there was some exciting racing. This has definitely been the best way to finish the championship for me. Winning the race on Saturday outright for the first time was obviously amazing, but to win the Silver Cup championship is very special.”
“Winning the GCC Rookie title was great, but the Silver Cup was what we wanted. After my win on Saturday, a fourth-place finish was enough for me to secure the Silver title. I’m really happy and want to say a huge thank you to my family and everyone at Lechner Racing for their support. It’s been a fantastic season.”
The final race took place prior to the start of the Formula One race, which was won by Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari. Al Faisal was in the thick of the action with Gold class drivers Ryan Cullen, the overall champion for the 2016-17 season, Dylan Pereira and Charlie Frijns.
Lining up third on the grid, Al Faisal was edged back to fourth place by Frijns but ran comfortably in the lead group which pulled well clear of the chasing pack – underlining the Omani’s impressive level of pace and excellent racecraft.
His quest to become Silver Cup champion was made that bit easier due to problems for chief rival, and erstwhile class leader, Bandar Alesayi who retired on lap one. In the end, after ten
pulsating laps, Al Faisal took the flag just 0.4 seconds shy of his second outright podium of the weekend and over 11 seconds clear of the next competitor.
“It’s been a great season in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, the championship is the biggest and best we have in the Middle East and I’m very proud to have been part of it.”
Cullen won the final race to bring curtains down on a successful eighth edition of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Series.