EMAL GIVE AL QUBAISI BIG LE MANS CHANCE …
Emirati driver teams up with Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki AlFaisal,
Italian star for first appearance in legendary endurance race
Abu Dhabi, UAE, 13 June, 2013: The UAE’s Khaled Al Qubaisi will team up with Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki AlFaisal and Italian driver Andrea Bertolini to make his first appearance in the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans later this month.
Sponsored by Emirates Aluminium (EMAL) and supported by Abu Dhabi Racing, Al Qubaisi will share the driving responsibilities with Abdulaziz and Bertolini at the wheel of a Dunlop Ferrari 458 Italia in the world’s most famous endurance circuit race on 22-23 June.
Commenting on the role of Emirates Aluminium (EMAL), Saeed Fadhel Al Mazrooei, President and CEO, said: “Mirroring the elements of success it has taken for EMAL to succeed internationally as a flagship of the 2030 Vision, the 24 Hours of Le Mans requires cutting edge technology combined with the strategy, expertise, dedication and determination of a pit crew, managers and drivers.
“All must work perfectly in unison to achieve excellence in order to reach the checkered flag. I wish Khaled and his team-mates the greatest success as they head to France to showcase excellence in the world arena.”
Le Mans is the ultimate test for any circuit racing driver, and Al Qubaisi is relishing his competitive debut in the event during its 90th edition at the Circuit de la Sarthe in France in the only official Dunlop Ferrari factory car entered in the GTE class.
“It’s not easy to find your way into the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and I’m very grateful to EMAL for this wonderful opportunity,” he said.
“It’s the pinnacle of GT racing and the most famous race in the world. All the greats have raced at Le Mans, including so many drivers from F1 over the years, and I’m very excited to be getting this chance.” Al Qubaisi is also supported by Etihad Airways.
Al Qubaisi, a board member of Abu Dhabi Racing, and Abdulaziz, have developed a strong but friendly rivalry in recent years, particularly while competing against each other in the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai, and the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.
The Emirati driver helped steer Team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcons to victory in Dubai for the last two years, and it was during this event that he and Abdulaziz, from the Saudi Falcons, first discussed the possibility of teaming up at Le Mans.
Bertolini, who became the youngest ever Ferrari test driver at the age of 19, was an obvious choice as the third member of the team based on his considerable GT racing experience, his knowledge of the car, and his position an official driver of British-based race specialists JMW Motorsport, who are running the Ferrari at Le Mans.
The trio will contest the GTE Pro class, which is for cars adapted from production models and is dominated by the world’s top sports car brands.
Abdulaziz, Porsche GT3 Cup champion twice in the last four years in the Middle East, will be making his third appearance at Le Mans, and looking for a change in fortunes. “The last two times were amazing experiences,” he said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t finish either race, so I’m hopeful we can not only finish this time, but finish in a good position.
“The circuit is fast, the teams are the best in the world, the drivers are the best, and so the level of competition is very high. Making it even more difficult is the fact that you have only three drivers in a team compared to four or five in other events, so you have less time to rest.”
Al Qubaisi, Abdulaziz and Bertolini linked up for the first time as a team during last Sunday’s official test day at Le Mans.
The first practice session takes place next Wednesday, with qualifying following on Thursday before more than 150,000 spectators gather to watch the 56 teams ride through Le Mans city centre in open top cars on Friday. The final practice session is on Saturday morning, with the race getting underway in the afternoon.