April 17, 2023

ABU DHABI (UAE): Oman’s Al-Faisal Al-Zubair, Germany’s Luca Stolz and Austrian Martin Konrad claimed sensational back-to-back GT Class victories in the third and fourth races of the 2023 Asian Le Mans Series at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi at the weekend.

At the wheel of the Al-Manar Racing by Haupt Racing Team Mercedes AMG GT3 running under the Omani national flag in the GT class, the trio won the first race on Saturday evening by 17.875 seconds and followed that with a repeat win against a world class field on Sunday by even bigger margin of 27.70 seconds.

This was a superb result for the Sultanate of Oman and a major boost to the Al-Manar Racing by Haupt Racing Team and Al-Zubair himself as he continues his racing programme throughout the 2023 season.

The Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M4, crewed by Chandler Hull, Nicky Catsburg and Thomas Merrill, had won both races in Dubai last weekend and second position in the second of the Abu Dhabi races enabled them to claim the GT Class title.

A delighted Al-Zubair said: “The weekend couldn’t have gone any better with a double win at Asian Le Mans with such a strong grid is definitely something to be very proud of. We were a little unfortunate to miss out on the championship after what happened in the second race in Dubai last weekend. Nonetheless, we did an amazing job to secure second in the championship and a double win in Abu Dhabi.

“We couldn’t have asked for much more. We came and did our best here. We won two races. The car was mega and Martin and Luca performed amazingly. I am very happy with the all-round performance. Yesterday, at the end we were managing the race and today we were pushing to open the gap.

“We passed the car to Luca for the final stint in a great position. The strategy worked well. The full course yellows helped us as well. Besides that, the performance from the bronze, silver and gold drivers was excellent. It’s my first championship with the ACO, which manage the World Endurance Championship, and it’s good to be on their radar and to show them that we are a team that is strong. Al-Manar Racing is gaining a lot of traction and getting some results. The Omani national anthem and the flag flying on the top of the podium was icing on the cake.”

The HRT team started the weekend where they hoped to end it with the quickest lap in the first free practice session on Friday morning. Stolz carded a best lap of 1min 53.429sec and that put the Al-Manar Racing Mercedes 0.274 seconds faster than Leipert Motorsport’s Lamborghini in the hands of Brendon Leitch. Getspeed’s Raffaele Marciello came home in third.

The HRT car was eighth of the 21 starters in the second free practice session with the fastest lap falling to TF Sport’s Jonathan Adam at the wheel of an Aston Martin Vantage.

Qualifying was the main priority and the HRT Team managed to finish the session in third place with a best lap of 1min 53.001sec. Pole position for race one went to Hub Auto Racing’s Ollie Millroy, Jules Gounon and Liam Talbot in a Mercedes AMG GT3.

The series-leading Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M4, crewed by Chandler Hull, Nicky Catsburg and Thomas Merrill, qualified in second.

But Al-Zubair, Stolz and Konrad came good when it mattered in the race and completed 94 laps to secure victory by 17.875 seconds from the Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 trio of Alex Malykhin, Joel Sturm and Harry King. The Leipert Motorsport car rounded off the podium places.

Another stunning run gave the talented trio a second successive victory on Sunday evening. They held off the advances of the new GT Class champions in the Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M4 and Stolz reached the chequered flag with a winning margin of 27.70 seconds after 121 laps. Eighteen cars reached the finish in the GT Class.

The Getspeed Mercedes AMG GT3 of Raffaele Marciello, Fabian Schiller and Florian Scholze came home in third place.

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