Defending team champions look to extend lead on home territory in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East
Clemens Schmid will go all out at Dubai Autodrome next week to keep Al Nabooda Racing on track for another double triumph in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, looking to extend their lead on home territory ahead of the final round decider.
Schmid and Omani team-mate Ahmad Al Harthy have regained the lead in the team championship and the Austrian driver goes into Rounds 9-10 in Dubai on 27-28 February on course for his second drivers’ crown in three seasons.
The duo are determined to build significantly on their eight-point cushion over Sky Dive Dubai Falcons, and Schmid wants to do the same in the driver’s championship.
“The competition is intense this season and both championships will be decided in the last race of the season,” said Schmid, currently holding a six-point advantage over Ashkanani.
“Right now it’s a great feeling to back on top again as a team, but we can't afford to relax. We still have to push hard to stay there, but everyone in the team believes that first place is where we belong.”
Schmid is determined to add to his five race wins so far this season after experiencing problems at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit where he finished second to the Kuwaiti in both races.
“It was a tough weekend,” he admitted. “In the first qualifying session I had a set-up problem with the car and went into the race with an alternative strategy, but couldn’t pull off the win.
“In the next round I had a really good pace, but in the middle of the race my alternator broke down and I lost my power steering and all the functions in the display. In the circumstances I was really happy to finish the race, because without the power steering it’s really hard to drive the car.”
Eager to make it a victorious homecoming for Al Nabooda Racing at Dubai Autodrome, Schmid says: “I'm really looking forward to it and hope that I can drive at my best and win both races. It’s very important for me to win in Dubai.
“From the team’s point of view we will be up against it because the Skydive Dubai guys know the circuit as well as anyone and are performing well. But Ahmad is looking for a strong performance and together we’re aiming high.
“The target must be to get 48 points from each race with first and second places in both, but that will be very tough to achieve and we’ll be very happy with around 40.
“I really like the circuit and its tricky layout. You need to find a good compromise between the fast and the slow corners. I think it’s the nicest track in the Middle East to drive. It’s our home circuit and the team expects a big performance from us. But I don’t feel under any extra pressure. I’m really confident that I can extend my lead in Dubai.”
The 2012-13 champion is prepared for another dramatic showdown at Bahrain International Circuit which stages this campaign’s last two rounds on 18-19 April.
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East - team standings:
1. Al Nabooda Racing (UAE) 288pts
2. SKY DIVE Dubai Falcons (UAE) 280
3. ClassicArabia Racing (KSA) 182
4. Team Bahrain (BAH) 177
5. Frijns Structural Steel ME (QAT) 147
1. Clemens Schmid (UAE) 190pts
2. Zaid Ashkanani (KUW) 184
3. Saeed Al Mehairi (UAE) 145
4. Charlie Frijns (NED) 137
5. Hasher Al Maktoum (UAE) 135
6. Raed Raffi (BAH) 113
7. Ahmad Al Harthy (OM) 98
8. Wolfgang Triller (GER) 97
1. Clemens Schmid is aiming for back to back wins at Dubai Autodrome
2. Ahmad Al Harthy wants to turn on a big performance for Al Nabooda Racing at their home circuit.