Abu Dhabi rookie driver adjusts his sights as one-make series gathers momentum Fast learner Al Qubaisi ready for new test as Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East heads for Saudi Dubai. The UAE's Khaled Al Qubaisi says he has learned...
Abu Dhabi rookie driver adjusts his sights as one-make series gathers momentum
Fast learner Al Qubaisi ready for new test as Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East heads for Saudi
Dubai. The UAE's Khaled Al Qubaisi says he has learned some valuable lessons to carry forward in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East as the exciting new race series heads for Saudi Arabia next month.
The Abu Dhabi driver makes his first appearance at Reem International Circuit outside Riyadh in the third and fourth rounds of the series on 6-7 January and is determined to improve on his showing during the opening race weekend in Bahrain.
Al Qubaisi, who entered sports car racing only four months ago, is by far the least experienced driver contesting the one-make championship but is determined to prove that he is a quick learner with a bright future in the sport.
Sponsored by Michelin and Mobil 1, the 12-round series made a lively debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix Circuit, and Al Qubaisi held third place in race one with two laps remaining before being knocked out of contention. Then, as Saudi Arabia's Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal and Prince Khaled Al Faisal followed each other to victory, a driver error put him out of race two.
"Overall I'd say my performance in Bahrain was generally good, but I was a bit unlucky," he said. "It was the first time I'd actually even seen the circuit let alone drive on it so it was always going to be a test.
"In the first race I found myself in third place right from the outset and I stayed there until two laps before the end when I got hit from behind, spun out and ended up with a flat tire which put me out of contention.
"In the second race I had an amazing start, climbing from sixth on the grid to second before turn one, and I stayed there for three laps before Prince Abdulaziz and Prince Khaled caught up with me.
"In a situation like that, as a relative newcomer to racing, you have to give way to more experienced drivers, which I did. But then I made the mistake of getting too close to Prince Khaled, bumped into the back of his car and badly damaged my radiator."
Added Al Qubaisi: "What I've learnt is that you can't afford to lose concentration until the race is over, and that being over aggressive from the start can hurt you.
"I'm new to this and my mistake was to shoot for a podium place right from the outset. I'm very inexperienced compared with most of the other drivers, and I need to adjust my expectations."
As a rookie driver, Al Qubaisi is relishing the challenge presented by new circuits as well as the impressive 2010 model Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car which the series gave a world debut to in Bahrain.
"It's an amazing car, and I can't wait to get back behind the wheel at Reem," he said. "I've never been to the circuit before and I'm looking forward to my first visit. I want to get comfortable with the track as soon as I can, and my strategy will depend on how I feel after the test sessions."
After Saudi Arabia, Al Qubaisi eagerly looks forward to competing in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East on home territory, with the stunning Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi staging rounds 5 and 6 on 5-6 February, and rounds 7 and 8 on 19-20 February.