Oman’s Al Faisal reflects on strong opening

After two sensational rounds of race action in season 8 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, a short winter break is unlikely to slow the hectic pace of the most competitive season in the championship’s history.
The mouth-watering ingredients of a new and expanded grid with 16 drivers’ from 12 different countries, including Oman’s Al Faisal al Zubair, has proved the perfect recipe for action-packed racing. Four races into the 12-race season and there is nothing to split the top two drivers both sitting level on 90 points each.
It’s just as close throughout the entire field. Less than five points separate the first and second places across gold, silver and bronze categories, and no podium has been the same on any of the four occasions so far. Even qualifying has proved ridiculously tight. In Dubai, less than two seconds divided the first seven drivers on the grid.
For young Omani driver Al Zubair the break until Round 3 on January 27 and 28 at the Dubai Autodrome offers a chance to reflect on the opening two rounds as well as time to help prepare for his return to the track in 2017.
Looking back, Al Zubair said: “The championship has been an amazing experience for me so far, and I am very pleased with the way I have started. Initially, I was a bit worried about making the transition from single seaters into the Porsche GT3 Cup car as there is a big difference, however I believe I have started the championship well and can only hope to keep the momentum going.”
Despite the winter break only just starting, already drivers are setting their sights on Round 3 and a return to the Dubai Autodrome for the second of two back to back rounds on the testing UAE circuit. Especially those who are making their debut in the region’s leading series. Emerging racing stars like Al Zubair are desperate to make use of their fresh experience and will seek to secure all-important championship points and challenge for silverware.
Current leaders, Qatar-based driver Charlie Frijns and Ryan Cullen of Ireland, sit joint level on points at the top of the overall drivers’ standings. Experienced UK driver, Tom Oliphant, will take comfort sitting closely behind in third place. However he will be aware that only 30 points separate him from seventh place in the standings, a great testament to how close the season is.
Al Zubair quickly made himself comfortable within the championship and now looks every bit a serious contender for silverware. Back to back podium finishes in the opening round in Bahrain gave him the confidence to launch his Porsche racing career with no fear.
Even a lack of experience at the Dubai Autodrome did nothing to slow his progress as he blew fans away with an overall third place finish in the opening race. Such pace and early momentum means Al Zubair will be a factor all season long.
He goes into the winter break in fifth position in the overall championship standings, and in first place in the new Porsche GCC Rookie Championship.