x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Al Faisal aims for second to first

Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal is aiming to learn from finishing second in the points standings last season to race his way to the title.

Clemens Schmid grabbed victory in Round 1 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at Dubai Autodrome Friday after a great battle with Saudi Arabia's Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal.
Clemens Schmid grabbed victory in Round 1 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at Dubai Autodrome Friday after a great battle with Saudi Arabia's Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal.

DUBAI // It may not have been the victory that he had sought, but Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal experienced enough in his run to second place in the opening round of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Friday to be confident that he can avenge missing out on the championship by a single point last season.

The Saudi driver was beaten by the Austrian racer, Clemens Schmid, in the 14-lap race, which was the highlight of the opening day of the Dubai Motorsport Festival at Dubai Autodrome.

While Schmid was the victor after passing Al Faisal on lap nine of the event, he is not racing Saturday; he is sharing his car with his compatriot, Andreas Mayerl, who will drive in the second race.

So a good race result Saturday will see Al Faisal, the 2009/10 champion, move to the top of the drivers' standings.

"Last year I finished second behind Sheikh Salman by just one point, so it was a bit frustrating, but that is sport and I am back here to win it," Al Faisal said.

He was not fazed by being beaten by Schmid, welcoming the challenge of racing against the Austrian, whose title aspirations appear limited with the car-sharing arrangement he is operating with Mayerl.

"It is good for me to have someone who is faster than I am so I can learn from him, and he can keep pushing me," Al Faisal said. "I am just going to push as hard as I did today … and hope for a win."

In other action at the Autodrome, the Dubai-based Vendetta Racing team continued to dominate the UAE Superbike Championship as Mahmoud Tannir made it five victories out of five for the team in the 600 class. He finished 13 seconds ahead of teammate Alan Boyter on his Triumph Daytona for his third success of the season, and he credited a good getaway as the catalyst.

"The last race I made a very big mistake on the start so I could not make up places quick and Alan had a good pace, but this time I made sure I did not do that mistake," he said.

Mohammed Al Owais dominated Class 1 of the UAE Touring Car Championship as he cruised to a comfortable victory. The Emirati was consistently half a second faster than his rivals in the opening laps and eventually won by 4.2 seconds from Nader Zuhour, the Jordanian driver.

Zaamin Jaffer overtook Natasha Seatter on the final lap to win the Formula Gulf 1000 race.

Saturday's action is highlighted by the second round of the UAE GT Championship. Leon Price and Rob Barff, who won the opening round in Dubai last month, put themselves in a strong position to repeat the feat after taking pole position in Friday's qualifying.

 

gcaygill@thenational.ae