Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East: OmanI duo on podium
Team Oman racers – Al Faisal al Zubair and Khalid al Wahaibi – came good as a pair for the second time in the season as they claimed podium finish together for the second time in the 2018-19 Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Series at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, on Friday.
Putting up a superb demonstration of racing, both Al Faisal and Khalid bagged second and third places respectively in the 12th race of the fifth round of the series. Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer took the top honours in a time of 29m:11.488s while Al Faisal was trailing by 3.774s.
Khalid, who earlier took his second pole of the season, finished in a time of 29:21.381. Earlier on January 25, Khalid had bagged a pole during the eighth race in Dubai.
On Friday, Khalid was followed by Al Faisal in the qualifying, only the second occasion in the 12 races so far, that the Omani pair had finished one and two in qualifying.
Both drivers are running under the Walter Lechner Racing banner and delivered impressive performances in the 14-lap race.
For Al Faisal, who had won eight of the races before the 12th race on Friday, late arrival due to flights cancellation meant lack of practice session. Despite that, Al Faisal took the second spot in qualifying behind Khalid and then kept the same position in the race.
The runner-up finish and Turkey's Berkay Besler's sixth-place finish enabled defending champion Al Faisal to extend his overall lead to 49 points with four races remaining.
Khalid's third-place finish took him to overall fourth spot, just nine points behind Simmenauer.
Al Faisal said, “I am happy to finish the race in P2 after missing the practice session as my flight from London got cancelled.
Simmenauer drove an amazing race. I was just behind and maintained my position to collect crucial points for my title defence.”
Khalid said, “A podium finish preceded by a pole – its been a great result so far. A bad start negated my pole advantage and Simmenauer took the benefit. I made too many mistakes on the first two laps.”
Khalid had grabbed the pole with a potent lap of 2min 02.338sec in first race qualifying, which was enough to pip Al Faisal by 0.012 seconds.
Meanwhile, Team Oman with two podium finishes in the 12th race of the 16-race series are assured of the team crown, having garnered 480 points, a massive 206-point lead over Team Sweden.
Overall standings [after 12 races]: 1 Al Faisal al Zubair (286 points), 2 Berkay Besler (237), 3 J B Simmenauer (203), 4 Khalid al Wahaibi (194), 5 Saul Hack (183).
Team Championship: 1 Team Oman (480), 2 Team Sweden (274), 3 Team Bahrain (247).