Omani racing driver Al Faisal Al Zubair performed very strongly on his debut in the ultra-competitive Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain on Saturday, 13th May, to post a top 20 finish on his maiden outing in the world’s premier Porsche category.
Finishing in 19th position from the vast 31-car entry during round one of the season on Saturday evening, the Muscat 19-year-old says he is now targeting bigger strides when the weekend’s second encounter gets underway later this morning.
Debuting in the FIA Formula One World Championship support series in Barcelona fresh from winning the GCC Rookie Class title and Silver Cup crown in the recently concluded Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, Al Faisal was satisfied with his maiden outing in the category.
Although a problem with a flat-spotted tyre in pre-event practice hampered his progress, a result of avoiding an incident ahead, the Omani went on to qualify within just 0.9 seconds of the top 10 for round one of the season. Such is the extreme competitiveness in the Supercup, Al Faisal’s lap of 1m50.923 seconds translated to 23rd on the grid.
Despite slipping back to 26th place at the start of his maiden Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup contest, the Red Bull Oman-backed racer remained composed and fought back very strongly at the wheel of his Lechner Racing Middle East prepared FZ Racing car.
Charging through to a 19th place finish in the 14 lap season-opener, Al Faisal set a best race lap of 1m54.091 seconds along the way which was more than a match for the half dozen cars immediately ahead. At the chequered flag, he was just 0.2 seconds shy of breaking into the top 18 on his debut.
“I learnt a lot about the pressure of the Supercup in my first race, I really enjoyed it”, said a very happy Al Faisal, “After the problem in practice, qualifying was better and I felt good but it was unbelievably close – 20 drivers were separated by just one second. That shows the difficulty and standard of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup.
“There’s a huge margin between this championship and what I’ve done up to now, here the top 15 guys are all within six tenths of each other and in the races one mistake can cost you five positions. It’s important to work on the consistency, not making any mistakes, but I’m happy we made a good start. In comparison to the guys in front of me in race one, my lap times were improving to the end.”
Al Faisal will be back on track at today at the Circuit de Catalunya for the second round of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup season. He will begin race two of the weekend from 21st position on the grid, having qualified just one second shy of pole position.
“I’m looking forward to race two”, said Al Faisal, “I like the circuit, it’s quite a difficult one with the beginning quite fast and flowing and then a technical part at the end of the lap. I hope to be able to improve more in race two and I’d like to try and finish in the points, that’s the target.”
Source. Marc Orme/Photo. Mumtaz Albalushi