October 25, 2023

Oman’s Al-Faisal Al-Zubair and German team-mate Fabian Schiller claimed a stunning second place in the final race of the 2023 International GT Open series at the 4.657km Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain on Sunday afternoon.

After being taken out of the opening race from pole position on the first corner of race one on Saturday, Al-Zubair qualified the Al-Manar Racing by Getspeed Mercedes AMG GT3 in third for the second of the weekend’s races and he and Schiller brought the car to the finish in the runner-up spot after Schiller passed Charlie Fagg’s Optimum Motorsport McLaren on the final lap.

Al-Zubair said: “After yesterday’s accident, which was very unfortunate, we started on P3 after one of the guys got a penalty for cutting, so that was a great qualifying. But I lost a few positions on the start. But finishing P2 was very good. We are very happy with that.”

Schiller had qualified the Mercedes on pole for the opening race on Saturday with a best lap of 1min 38.832sec. “We had some trouble on Friday but the car was mega in qualifying,” said the German. “It’s nice to be back in the GT Open with no pressure.”

The plan was for Al-Zubair and Schiller to push hard for victory in race one, despite their obvious 20-second handicap in a race where David Fumanelli had qualified the Kessel Ferrari in second ahead of Fagg and the CBRX by SPS Mercedes of Yannick Mettler.

Unfortunately, for Schiller, he started the race from pole position and was sandwiched between Mettler and Fagg at turn one with the McLaren hit from the rear and causing chaos ahead with Schiller, Fagg and Mettler spinning and getting stranded at the first corner. Mettler and Schiller managed to pit and the race restarted after a yellow flag on lap four but Schiller retired the Mercedes in the pits.

Victory eventually fell to the Eastalent Racing Audi of Simon Reicher and Christopher Haase and they moved to the top of the points’ standings as a result and also after winning a recent appeal following a recent race in Austria.

Pole position for race two was taken by Maximilian Paul in the Oregon Team Lamborghini with a run of 1min 38.900sec. Haase qualified in second and Al-Zubair lined up on the second row of the grid in fourth place alongside Dominik Baumann’s SPS Mercedes.

In warm, sunny conditions on a dry track, Mikaeel Pitamber and Baumann claimed victory in the second race at the helm of the SBS Mercedes, with Al-Zubair and Schiller grabbing the second spot on the podium after a thrilling finish when the safety car was deployed and the race was yellow flagged late on.

Fagg and De Haan looked set to finish second in the Optimum Motorsport McLaren but Schiller pressurised Fagg through the final minutes in the battle for the runner-up spot and passed the Briton after a stunning move on the last lap.

The result meant that the Eastalent Racing Audi of Simon Reicher and Christopher Haase tied with Diego Menchaca (Motopark Mercedes) in the International GT Open after four teams had entered the final race separated by just nine points. The Audi duo was handed the title on a countback tie-break, having earned one more second-place finish during the season.


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