MUSCAT: Oman's Al Faisal al Zubair along with his team-mates, Fabian Schiller of Germany and China's Anthony Liu guided the Al Manar Racing by Getspeed Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo to second place in the third race of the 2023/2024 Asian Le Mans Series at the Dubai Autodrome in Dubai, UAE, on Sunday.
After Lui had earned the trio a fine pole position for Sunday’s 4H of Dubai, the crew battled hard with the pace-setting Pure Rxcing team of Klaus Bachler, Joel Sturm and Alex Malykhin in a Porsche 911 GT3 R and finished a nail-biting contest just 0.775 seconds behind the new championship leaders after 112 laps of racing.
The result means that the Pure Rxcing team leads the GT Teams Trophy on 58 points and Al Manar Racing by Getspeed are well-placed in third on 43 points behind Sainteloc Racing (44 points).
Al Zubair and Schiller have 43 points apiece in the GT Drivers’ Trophy and hold third position, a mere point behind second-placed Christopher Haase, Gilles Magnus and Alban Varutti heading to the final two races at Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi.
The AF Corse trio of Simon Mann, François Heriau and Davide Rigon rounded off the podium places in a distant third place in their Ferrari 296 GT3.
Speaking after the awards ceremony, Al Zubair said: “The race was great overall. We started on pole after Anthony’s superb lap in qualifying. We went into the race and Anthony had a great opening to make a nice gap for us, which we lost, unfortunately, in the pits. Because they (Pure Rxcing) under cut us and gained two laps. That was unfortunate. Sturm got passed me after gaining six seconds on a full course yellow. We have no idea now. That was also unfortunate. But the race was a good one and we should be happy with P2. It’s not the same as first place. We hope to improve on that in the next two races.”
The Al Manar Mercedes finished the first practice session on Friday in second position behind the AF Corse Ferrari 296 GT3. Liu used the time to acclimatise to the car and the crew ran for 39 laps with a best run of 1min 59.016sec.
Schiller finished the second 37-lap practice stint on Saturday morning with the car down in third place behind the GR Racing Ferrari and the Triple Eight JMR Mercedes. Al Manar Racing’s best lap was 1min 58.479sec.
A superb qualifying session by Liu saw the Al Manar Racing Mercedes top the times with a best run of 1min 58.280sec. That was 0.544 seconds quicker than the best effort by the Pure Rxcing Porsche 911. Optimum Motorsport’s McLaren qualified in third and the second of the Getspeed cars was sixth.