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It’s been a long two days for Abdulaziz Turki AlFaisal. Free practice sessions, three qualifying runs, a driver parade and multiple hours in the Prospeed Competition garage discussing setup and strategy. And the green flag for the 2012 Le Mans 24hrs hasn’t even dropped.

Naturally then, the Saudi Arabia national is already pretty knackered. The last time crankandpiston grabbed a few words with Abdulaziz was shortly before free practice was due to kick off. So far he’s pretty happy with his Le Mans event thus far, but that’s not to say it’s been without its problems.

“Sean [Edwards, teammate] set the time on Wednesday but we’ve had a few issues with understeer,” Abdulaziz says. “So the team made some adjustments. The car was really nervous, and none of us were particularly comfortable with it. We all went slower in the final session, so we knew we had to go back to our first setup. But it’s good that we tried that and now we know which direction to go for the race. We’re definitely going to try that setup in warm-up just before the race just to see how the car handles and how it feels.”

Certainly it’s all smiles at the moment. Having put a lot of prep into the event already, Abdulaziz and the Prospeed squad have taken the event one session at a time and, despite a couple of niggling problems along the way, have managed to qualify the #75 Porsche 997 GT3 RSR a remarkable second in the Pro-Am category.

“Yeah, we were really happy about that. We’ve done all the preparation we can do. Unfortunately we lost about two hours in the second qualifying session, which was a shame. We could have gained a lot of information about the car. But I think we’re definitely set for the race.”

Understandably chuffed then, if still not counting the chickens before they’ve fully hatched. Let’s not forget that Abdulaziz is taking only his second crack at Le Mans gold, and teammates Sean Edwards and Bret Curtis are making their Le Mans bows this year. And the event has already shown that it can bite back at the rookies.

“Bret went out in the first session of Thursday, and unfortunately on the second or third lap he lost the car and hit the tyre wall briefly which broke the front left suspension. We couldn’t retrieve the car until the session had ended, so we couldn’t really test anything on the setup.”

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James Gent first started as a freelance motorsport writer in the UK, before an urge to be paid a monthly wage saw him move to Dubai in late 2011. A keen motoring enthusiast, he hopes that one day his garage will hold a Lamborghini Countach, as well as a WRC Lancia Delta Integrale.

James Gent

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