Abdulaziz on another mission to the top
Abu Dhabi. As Abu Dhabi prepares to decide another dramatic Formula One world title race on Sunday, one of the Arab world’s newest motor racing champions is aiming to make his own mark during an action-packed weekend at Yas Marina Circuit.
Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal is in a confident mood as he begins the defence of his title in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, although he anticipates pressure from a number of directions as the series enters its 2010-11 season.
He scored three of his nine victories in the 12-round championship in Abu Dhabi last season, and the No.1 on his brand new 2011 Porsche GT3 Cup car reflects not only his domination of the inaugural series, but where he wants to remain.
“I’m looking to win the title again, and I’ve prepared well for the new season so I have given myself every chance,” he said. “I’m sure it’s going to be more difficult this time though, as the other guys have done their homework and will be trying to put pressure on me.”
With Abu Dhabi’s Khaled Al Qubaisi and Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa both eager to make a winning start in Round 1 on Saturday afternoon, another threat to the reigning champion could come from much closer to home.
Saudi Fahad Algosaibi underlined his talent by becoming the youngest ever winner in the history of Porsche one-make racing at the age of 16 in Round 10 at Reem International Circuit, outside Riyadh, last season.
Beaten into second place that day, Prince Abdulaziz said of Algosaibi at the time: “It’s not bad to lose a race to someone like Fahad. He’s very talented and we’ll have to watch out for him next year.”
Also watching out for Algosaibi will be his father, Fawaz, who also returns to action in the Michelin and Mobil 1-sponsored series in another of the brand new Porsche GT3 Cup cars making their world competitive debuts in Abu Dhabi.
The opening rounds of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East are the official support races for the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
GT3 Cup action gets under way with a practice session at 11:30am tomorrow (Friday). After a qualifying session starting at 12:45pm the following day, Round 1 gets under way at 3:25pm. Round 2 starts at 2:45pm on Sunday.
Turvey powers to pole in Abu Dhabi Englishman dominates qualifying session Oliver Turvey went one better from his fine performance in today’s practice by claiming pole position for the feature race in a dramatic qualifying session in Abu Dhabi ahead of Dani Clos and Sergio Perez. The Briton spent the whole session at the sharp end of the timing sheets, but a late lap of 1:48.559 couldn’t be bettered by his rivals, handing Turvey his first GP2 Series pole position by almost half a second. With temperatures soaring this afternoon following a quiet practice session and a sudden downpour of rain just afterwards, the drivers were immediately on the pace: Perez, Turvey and Jules Bianchi were fighting fiercely for the top spot from their first flying laps, alternating the quickest times between them as they circulated. Ten minutes in and Turvey was on top (by just 0.009s), at fifteen Bianchi led the way, and with temperatures starting to slide it was difficult to know what to expect from the second set of tyres. Luiz Razia answered that question by being the first man on track and promptly putting himself in P2, and when his rivals returned to the circuit warfare recommenced. With a few minutes remaining Perez went top, with Clos squeezing by a few seconds later, but Turvey laid down his marker and gave his rivals just three minutes to improve upon it: no one could get close, and it was all over as the chequered flag dropped. Behind the top three Fabio Leimer did a fantastic job to claim fourth on tomorrow’s grid, ahead of Davide Valsecchi, Bianchi, Razia, Giedo van der Garde, Romain Grosjean and Sam Bird, all of whom were within a second of pole: tomorrow’s race promises to be as scorching as the weather conditions.
Abu Dhabi – Qualifying Session Driver Team Time Laps 1. Oliver Turvey iSport International 1:48.559 13 2. Dani Clos Racing Engineering 1:49.035 13 3. Sergio Perez Barwa Addax Team 1:49.081 12 4. Fabio Leimer Ocean Racing Technology 1:49.148 13 5. Davide Valsecchi iSport International 1:49.307 13 6. Jules Bianchi ART Grand Prix 1:49.338 13 7. Luiz Razia Rapax 1:49.410 14 8. Giedo van der Garde Barwa Addax Team 1:49.429 13 9. Romain Grosjean Dams 1:49.462 13 10. Sam Bird ART Grand Prix 1:49.624 13 11. Adrian Zaugg Trident Racing 1:49.812 13 12. Max Chilton Ocean Racing Technology 1:49.890 12 13. Michael Herck DPR 1:50.160 12 14. Fabio Crestani DPR 1:50.239 12 15. Pastor Maldonado Rapax 1:50.362 14 16. Rodolfo Gonzalez Arden International 1:50.549 12 17. Josef Kral Super Nova Racing 1:50.559 14 18. Brendon Hartley Scuderia Coloni 1:50.568 13 19. Charles Pic Arden International 1:50.569 10 20. Marcus Ericsson Super Nova Racing 1:50.719 12 21. Jerome d’Ambrosio Dams 1:50.730 12 22. James Jakes Scuderia Coloni 1:50.901 13 23. Ho-Pin Tung Racing Engineering 1:51.061 12 24. Federico Leo Trident Racing 1:52.170 13