Abdulaziz Al Faisal, who is already building his reputation as one of the Middle East’s top racing drivers at home and abroad, hopes his success can inspire more young Arabs to follow his path to the top.
Over the past three years, no driver has done more to generate interest in the sport among young people in the Kingdom than Abdulaziz, who has captured the imagination of many with his exploits in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.
Already looking ahead to the 2012-13 campaign which will start in November, and with a third series triumph the target, his other big hope is that more young Saudis wil take up the challenge.
“I definitely think this can happen,“ he said during a break from practice for the recent 24 Hours of Le Mans. “The championship is attracting more and more interest every season, especially in Saudi. Just look at the rounds in Reem last season where we had thousands of spectators at the track creating a great atmosphere. Obviously, I’d love to see us have more races in Saudi. There‘s growing interest in my country both in the sport as a whole, and in the Porsche GT3 Cup series in particular.
“The series has been very successful over the first three years and I just think it will keep on growing and getting stronger. I’d like to see more local drivers taking part in the series, and I’m hoping we can look forward to seeing more young Arabs, especially Saudis, coming aboard and boosting the entry level.”
After a demanding winter race programme in the Porsche GT3 Cup series, the region’s headline race championship, Abdulaziz had little time to rest before embarking on a 16-event summer campaign in Europe, highlighted by his second appearance at Le Mans.
On the home front, the GT3 Cup series continued to break new ground last season, with Qatar’s Losail International Circuit joining the region’s other top race venues in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain and Reem, and Abdulaziz says he owes a lot to the championship.
“It has definitely raised my level as a driver,“ he confessed. “It has improved my driving skills and made me sharper and more consistent because it’s such a professionally-run series and a very competitive one. Last season it was all about consistency for me. I finished on the podium in all but one of the 12 rounds and won four of the races. Consistency throughout the season gave me the advantage.”
Abdulaziz is now relishing a new challenge next season. “I’ll be especially interested to see which new drivers come into the championship because we get new faces every season and that makes it so much more interesting“, he says. “I’d love to win the Porsche GT3 Cup series again, but it won’t be easy.”