Al Faisal on verge of title glory

A file photo of Al Faisal al Zubair during a race in the 2018-19 Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Series

Oman's Al Faisal al Zubair still has fresh memories of lifting the overall champion's trophy at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, last year.

The 20 year old is all set to relive that experience as he goes into the final two rounds of the 2018-19 Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Series with a healthy 41-point lead over his nearest rival, Berkay Besler of Turkey.

Barring a major blow-up and with just 50 points at stake in the final two races, Al Faisal is on the brink of a historic glory for Oman as he would become the first Omani racer to retain the prestigious regional title, come this Sunday.

Ahead of the final round, Al Faisal said, “I am in a strong position heading into the final weekend of the championship. I am very happy and I am feeling supremely confident ahead of the final two races. I am sure of retaining the title.”

Sangeetha Kamath

Adding to the prospect of a double celebration is the possibility of Al Faisal's countrymate, Khalid al Wahaibi, who is also in the fray for an overall podium finish.

Al Faisal leads the overall driver standings with 326 points after 14 races with Besler on 285. J B Simmenauer is third with 251 but the Frenchman is closely followed by Khalid with 225. On fifth spot is South African Saul Hack with 219.

Both Al Faisal and Khalid race for Walter Lechner Racing. A  title win coinciding with the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix will provide a perfect platform for Al Faisal to launch his challenge for honours in the Porsche Mobil 1 Super Cup later this summer.

Al Faisal's plans for the last two races of this season will be simple. Avoid any aggressive manoeuvres and attempt to collect maximum points by finishing races.

Both the Omanis have already secured the Team Championship title after a successful campaign. The youngsters have amassed an impressive 551 points so far and arrive in Bahrain 241 points in front of second-placed Team Sweden.

Khalid said, “The last round of our championship coincides with the Formula One weekend. We have one qualifying and two races and the fastest and second fastest laps will be used for the pole position. It’s a case of putting two good laps together in qualifying and not just one. I am looking forward to it.”

The Porsche weekend of racing is dispersed between the main Formula One action on the circuit and starts with a practice session on Friday afternoon. Qualifying then takes centre stage later in the evening.

The first ten-lap race kick-starts the action on Saturday morning and race two is scheduled on Sunday afternoon before the Bahrain GP.

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