“As a driver from Saudi Arabia and the Arab community, I want to send a message to everyone here that ‘we can come, we can compete and we can race just as hard as everyone else when we get the chance.”
Strong words. The Le Mans 24 Hours is, after all, an event that drivers the world over compete in to boost their personal career aspirations or, at the very least, make a name for themselves. But for Abdulaziz Turki AlFaisal of Saudi Arabia, the most famous motor racing endurance event on the planet is the ideal venue to showcase the Middle East’s burgeoning motorsport talent.
“It’s as much a privilege to be representing Saudi Arabia and the Middle East as it is to be here full stop,” explains Abdulaziz, “but I would love to get that message across come the end of the event, whether we finish on the top or not. I’d love to prove to everyone what Middle East drivers can really do. That would be my ultimate ambition.”
It’s clear as crankandpiston grabs some time with the Saudi before official free practice kicks off that he is fired up for Le Mans. And few could blame him. Regular readers of crankandpiston – and our extensive Dubai 24hrs coverage in particular – will already be familiar with Abdulaziz’s endurance racing credentials, not to mention his GT3 European Championship reign in 2010 and his current success in the ADAC GT Masters. Now he’s back for his second run in the French endurance classic having sealed a deal with experienced Pro-Am GT outfit, Prospeed Competition.
“Well I’ve done the Dubai 24hrs for six/seven years in a row now, and I really wanted to take it to another level. And I already knew a few of the guys at Porsche because my drive last year was in a Porsche 997. So I spoke with Walter Lechner and said, ‘is there a possibility I could do Le Mans?’, and he said ‘let’s see what we can do’. Soon afterwards we got a contract through from Porsche and they offered me a seat here. It all just fell into place! And Prospeed are such a good team. I think they’ve been competing at Le Mans every year since 2000, so they have a lot of experience. They know what’s going on, and they’ve made me feel really at home. It just feels so good to be part of such a great outfit.”
Joining Abdulaziz at his new berth is fellow crankandpiston Vision regular Sean Edwards – whose Porsche Supercup achievements need little introduction – and American GT endurance specialist Bret Curtis, both of whom will be making their Le Mans bows this year. Already, despite rather ironically being the Le Mans veteran of the posse, Abdulaziz feels their partnership is a solid one.