Oman’s champion back to defend title in regions leading race series
Omani driver Al Faisal Al Zubair is confirmed to defend his title and will compete in a third straight season in the prestigious Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.
The inclusion of the talented twenty-year old is a further boost for the most professional championship in the region as it prepares to celebrate the start of a landmark tenth season with a host of exciting new developments.
A new name, thanks to the introduction of a title sponsor for the first time, Best Water Technology (BWT), a new format and new schedule, will welcome the drivers when racing returns for the opening round at the Dubai Autodrome on the 16th and 17th November 2018.
For Al Zubair, a product of the one-make Porsche series having made his debut only two seasons ago, the start Season 10 will also represent a new and more demanding challenge.
Firstly, he will face several new drivers from around the world already confirmed on the grid line-up, and if he is to reclaim his title the Omani will need to show great depths of consistency and stamina due to the addition of four further race outings to the schedule.
The championship now comprises of sixteen races over six intense weekends between the Dubai Autodrome, Yas Marina Circuit and Bahrain International Circuit, with pre-season testing taking place in Dubai over 2 days from 14th – 15th November 2018.
Speaking ahead of testing, Al Zubair said: “The Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East was my first real big breakthrough in the sport and has since provided the best possible platform to build and develop my track experience. It means a lot to me on a personal level, especially working with Walter. It has been the defining moment of my career so far and I want to prove that I have got even better thanks to my performances in Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup with Lechner Racing Middle East over the summer months.
“Since winning the title in Bahrain I have not sat back. I have pushed myself on even further as the prospect of facing a complete new and stiffer challenge is really motivating. Renewing all rivalries, taking on new competitors and adding four more races really does shift things up a gear. My aim is to defend my title – I know it will be tough, but I am ready for the challenge.”
Al Zubair represents an exciting new breed of high calibre drivers from the region who have emerged on the world stage. In only his second season, he became the first Omani and the fourth Arab driver to win the Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East title. This followed a remarkable debut season which saw the prodigious talent take both the GCC Rookie and Silver category championship titles.
Series founder and manager Walter Lechner, of Lechner Racing, said: “To welcome back our champion is always going to be a very positive development especially when you consider the career trajectory of Al Faisal. As a driver he is completely committed to winning and is a great example to others in the Middle East to follow.
“By having such a proven pathway to go from rookie to champion to world stage speaks volumes about the series and is a key reason why we have new drivers on an international grid for Season 10. Globally Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East is now seen as the launch-pad for racing drivers to elevate their career, often to professional status. We have a truly global footprint and family of drivers who are all ready to hone their skills on the track. I know Al Faisal will relish the opportunity to build on his early success within the sport and I personally can’t wait to see the competition on show this season.”
Managed by Lechner Racing on behalf of Porsche Middle East and Africa FZE, the Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East was the first regional championship backed by a manufacturer in the Middle East. The highly successful one-make series is the longest running and only regional motorsport series and Season 10 is poised to continue breaking new ground.
The anniversary season sees several changes to its format, while continuing to hold its exhilarating championship finale as the official support race of the 2019 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.
The new season consists of sixteen races over six weekends. The additions aim to test driver focus and endurance, while also making the fight for the title more difficult, with added points on offer to disrupt the championship table significantly.