Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East: Perfect finish for Omani duo
It could not have been a better finish. Definitely, a dream come true for the two young Omani racers – Al Faisal al Zubair and Khalid al Wahaibi - as the teenagers had their hands full of trophies on Sunday. The talented pair won a total of four titles to bring the curtains down on the season nine of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Series as the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir .
The 2017-18 series turned out to be the most successful championship in Oman's motorsports history. Prior to Sunday’s rich haul, there have never been an instance of two Omani drivers capturing four titles in a single racing series.
Al Faisal, who was crowned the overall champion on Saturday, made it a double as he also lifted the GCC Porsche GT3 Championship trophy.
The younger Khalid was not to be left out of the party despite it being his debut season. An impressive display in the final race and a burning desire to improve throughout the season saw the 17 year old claim the Rookie Championship and the Silver category title.
All the four trophies were awarded on the final day of the series on Sunday after the final and 12th race, which served as a support race of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix.
Having sealed a double pole for the last two races, the stage was set for Al Faisal to have a final flourish. And the 19 year old ensured it with a start-to-finish win for a perfect icing on his title victory cake.
The triumph helped Al Faisal finish the series with a total of 232 points in the ten races that were taken into account and it included four victories, three runner-up finishes and three third-places.
With such an authoritative performance during his second season, it underlined Al Faisal's progress as a leading driver in the region. Tom Oliphant was overall second with 215 while Charlie Frijns of the Netherlands came third with 196. Isa A al Khalifa came second in the final race ahead of Frijns and Khalid came up with one of his best career performances to match his season-best overall fourth place.
In his remarks to Muscat Daily, Al Faisal, who will be turning 20 next week, said, “It couldn't have been anything better. A perfect finish with double pole and a double win. It’s a dream come true. Definitely, it was the best way to finish the season.”
Double delight for Khalid
Ahead of the final race, Khalid's task had become challenging as he had a poor qualifying that saw him start at P11. With two titles at stake – rookie and silver – the youngster produced a sensational display to finish overall fourth and clinch both the titles in style. With a total of 141 points, Khalid finished overall fifth among a 24 drivers.
He beat Magnus Oehman of Sweden (131) for Silver class honours in a field of ten drivers and won the rookie title ahead of South African Saul Hack (127). Eight drivers raced in rookie category.
The Omani duo also was one-two in the GCC championship among ten drivers with Isa S al Khalifa taking third spot.
In his remarks, Khalid said, “It has been a long season and I experienced lot of ups and downs. Though I struggled initially, to finish P4 from a P11 start was amazing at such a crucial stage. To manage my way through to the top four was a great experience.
“I put pressure on Britain's Glynn Geddie and it worked as I managed to seal fourth place.“I am so happy to have secured both the Rookie and Silver Championships in my debut season. It is a great reward for me. With my dear friend and countrymate, Al Faisal, winning the overall championship and the GCC title, we proudly return to Oman with four trophies. It is a extremely proud day for us and hopefully we can earn more laurels in future.”
Final driver standings [top five]: 1 Al Faisal al Zubair (232 points), 2 Tom Oliphant (215), 3 Charlie Frijns (196), 4 Glynn Geddie (166), 5 Khalid al Wahaibi (141).
GCC Porsche GT3 Championship [top three]: 1 Al Faisal, 2 Khalid, 3 Isa S al Khalifa (129).
Silver class standings [top three]: 1 Khalid, 2 Magnus Oehman (131), 3 Isa S al Khalifa.
Rookie Championship [top three]: 1 Khalid, 2 Saul Hack (127), 3 Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer (124).