x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Emirati expects more this season in Porsche GT3 Cup

Khaled al Qubaisi expects bigger and better things from himself and teammate Musaed al Murar in this season's Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge.

Khaled al Qubaisi expects Musaed al Murar, his Abu Dhabi teammate, to be a Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East champion within the next three years.

Al Murar claimed the Rookie of the Year title in the all-action race series last season in an identical Abu Dhabi-branded Porsche GT3 Cup car to al Qubaisi, who produced a string of impressive performances and recorded his breakthrough race victory in the one-make series.

Al Qubaisi has now embarked on a second summer of competition in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, but is already looking ahead to the new GT3 Cup series starting in November, and has high hopes for himself and his teammate.

"Musaed did a great job in his first season," he said. "He dominated the rookie championship. Now he just needs more experience to help him continue to improve. I am pretty sure that, with the right amount of training, he can become champion in the next three years."

Both drivers are modest, realistic figures and al Murar said ahead of the last series: "I don't expect to finish highly in the first race but I have to gain experience and, so long as I finish, I will be pleased. The whole season is going to be a challenge and I think I can maybe challenge for the podium a little, but my main goal must remain to finish each race."

Al Qubaisi said of his own 2011/12 series ambitions: "Experience is the key to being successful. The more you practice the better the results you'll achieve.

"I definitely gained a lot from my first season in the Supercup series and it paid off in my Porsche GT3 Cup campaign."

His second season in Supercup, on Europe's top race tracks, this summer is a repeat of his tactics last year when he went in pursuit of some extra experience. It proved to be highly successful, as al Qubaisi returned to his home a much more composed driver, and there were immediate results. As the GT3 Cup season opened on his home Yas Marina Circuit in support of the F1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last November, the Emirati driver recorded back-to-back podium finishes - his first in the series.

A trail of encouraging displays followed in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and when the series returned to the UAE capital in April, al Qubaisi made his big breakthrough, winning Round 8 of the 12-round championship.

He headed into the last four rounds at Dubai Autodrome as a genuine title contender, but in the final round, al Murar snatched fifth position from al Qubaisi when his teammate made a mistake midway through the 14-lap race.

Even though al Qubaisi had a frustrating end to the season, finishing fifth overall, he looks back with a lot of satisfaction.

"It was a very important season for me because I was able to improve a lot from the previous campaign and clinch my first race win," he said.

Mechanical problems, followed by a race accident and then a broken driveshaft on the introduction lap, prevented al Qubaisi from making any impression on the opening three rounds of this year's Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup in Istanbul, Barcelona and Monaco, but he said: "I'm confident that we will be able to improve the performance soon. I gained a huge amount of experience last summer and the Supercup was the reason why I was able to improve my driving skills so much."

* Agency