Porsche GT3 Cup
Dubai. Al Nabooda Racing believe the winning formula which has put them within reach of a second successive team title in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East can prove decisive again when the series reaches a big climax at Bahrain International Circuit this weekend. Defending champions Clemens Schmid and Karim Al Azhari carry a 22-point lead over their nearest rivals, the Saudi Falcons, into the final two rounds of the 2013-14 series on Friday and Saturday, and will be looking to extend a remarkable unbeaten run of success in Bahrain.
Between them, they have won the last eight Porsche GT3 Cup rounds staged at the circuit stretching back to April 2012 when Schmid began a sequence of five successive victories there.
“Clemens and Karim both enjoy racing in Bahrain and the circuit seems to bring out the best in them,” said Vijay Rao, Team Manager of Al Nabooda Racing.
“This was underlined when Clemens won both rounds there in the first race weekend this season, while Karim won the final round in Bahrain last season to make sure of the team title. So we’re very confident that we can round things off with another strong showing this weekend.
Added Rao: “You can never take anything for granted in racing, and both drivers know that they have to be at their best again, because this is such a fiercely contested championship, and our rivals will capitalise on any mistakes.
“But we’ve prepared very thoroughly for the final two rounds, as we have for every race weekend over the last two seasons. We’re determined to bring the team championship back to Dubai for the second year in a row.”
If Schmid is to retain his individual drivers’ crown, he may need to win both races in Bahrain for a fourth time in three years after losing his season-long championship lead to Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanini last time out in Dubai.
Just three points adrift of Ashkanani and tied with Saudi’s two-times former GT3 Cup champion Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal, the Austrian driver is fully focused on the task ahead, and on the challenging circuit conditions in Bahrain.
“Sand blowing onto the tarmac makes it rough, so it’s a really hard track for the tyres and we have to manage that to get the best of them,” he said.
Al Azhari, who scored vital points in Dubai, where Schmid suffered a crash and a race penalty, said: “We were under pressure in the final two rounds in Bahrain last season but came through, and we can do it again. This team has a winning mentality, and we won’t let things slip.”
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, team standings after 10 rounds:
1. Al Nabooda Racing 342pts 2. Saudi Falcons 320pts 3. SKY DIVE Dubai Falcons 310pts 4. Team Bahrain 213pts 5. BuZaid GT (KUW) 186pts 6. Milon Racing (GER) 114pts
1. Zaid Ashkanani (KUW) 199pts 2. Clemens Schmid (Al Nabooda Racing) 196pts 3. Abdulaziz Al Faisal (KSA) 196pts 4. Hasher Al Maktoum (UAE) 166pts 5. Karim Al Azhari (UAE) 150pts 6. Saeed Al Mehairi (UAE) 147pts
1. Clemens Schmid – chasing another team and driver title double in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East. 2. Karim Al Azhari – aiming for another big finish in Bahrain. 3. Schmid and Al Azhari with team manager Vijay Rao – confident of bringing the GT3 Cup team crown back to Dubai again.