Clean sweep by Al Faisal in Bahrain

SAKHIR, Bahrain: Oman’s Al Faisal al Zubair continued a sensational run of form with a clean sweep of three race wins and three pole positions at round two of the Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain.
The Walter Lechner Racing star followed up his two wins and a second place in Dubai recently with three more successes to extend his advantage in the championship that he secured for the first time last season.
The series leader beat Michael de Quesada by 7.865 seconds to convincingly take control of the first of the day’s races. Berkay Besler was third and Leon Koehler rounded off the top four. Sheikh Isa bin Abdullah al Khalifa delighted the home crowd with fifth and second in the GCC category, while Omani Khalid al Wahaibi finished sixth.
Al Zubair started from pole and finished the second of Saturday’s races 0.728 seconds ahead of Besler. American racer de Quesada was third and Al Wahaibi finished in an excellent fourth and second of the GCC entrants.
The result meant Team Oman maintained a comfortable lead in the Team Championship over Team Sweden and Team Bahrain and Al Zubair extended his advantage in the Drivers’ Championship to 29 points over De Quesada. Al Wahaibi climbed to fourth overall, 18 points behind Besler.
Al Zubair said: “It was a tough weekend with three races and three qualifying sessions. That’s a lot of pressure. Qualifying was a lot rougher than the races. In the races, mostly we had it under control. In the last race, the gap was seven-tenths (of a second).
“He (Berkay) passed me on the first lap, but I knew I was faster than him and I didn’t want to rush it and cause any accidents. In the end, it was a clean sweep and that is very good. It’s been a very good start with six pole positions and five wins. Every session we learn something and that is a positive and that gives me confidence.”
Khaled al Wahaibi added: “Quite obviously the third race was the best of the weekend and the best of the season so far. We finished nine seconds off the leader and that is the best so far. I need to work on improving my qualifying. That helps a lot.
“You could see, in the third race today, as soon as we started qualifying, we were able to pull away from the mid pack and focus on the leaders. I went up to P4 and dropped back to P6 and managed to come across the line in P4.
“It was a good race and I need to keep on improving and get closer to the top guys. It’s good to end the weekend on a strong note. P4 is equally my best result and we are so close to the podium. That is my next step. Hopefully at the next race we will be close to that. Now we have a one-month break.”
Drivers kicked off a hectic day’s racing action at Sakhir with two qualifying sessions followed by the two 14-lap races.
Al Zubair claimed pole position in the opening session with a best lap of 2min 02.699sec and that put him 0.251sec in front of Michael de Quesada. Simmenaeur was classified in third place and Berkay Besler was fourth. Al Wahaibi recorded a best run of 2min 03.489sec and that put the Omani youngster ninth on the grid and third of the GCC drivers.
Al Zubair completed the clean sweep with pole position for the third race as well. He pushed his GT3 to a best time of 2min 02.306sec and that was 0.392 seconds quicker than the best tour set by Michael de Quesada. Besler and Leon Koehler were third and fourth and Al Wahaibi improved to qualify in sixth place and third of the GCC runners behind Al Khalifa.
A delighted Al Zubair has now qualified on pole position for six successive races. He said: “I’m on a good streak and I am happy with it. I was happy with my lap. I felt like my lap in Q2 could have been better, but I felt better in Q3. I think it was the fastest time of the weekend. We just focus now to get the two wins.”