Clemens Schmid and Karim Al Azhari are prepared for a major power battle under the lights of Qatar's Losail International Circuit this weekend as they look to take Al Nabooda Racing closer to a double title success in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.
The pair see the penultimate race weekend of the 2012/13 season as a crucial test as they attempt to fight off the challenge of their biggest rivals, the Saudi Falcons, and bring both the GT3 team and individual drivers' titles back to Dubai for the first time.
"It's going to be a big battle, and we're ready for it," said Al Azhari, who holds third place in the drivers' standings behind Saudi Arabia's defending champion, Abdulaziz Al Faisal, and Al Nabooda Racing teammate Schmid, who leads by six points.
"It's really a make-or-break weekend for the Saudis, and they will have to push themselves to the limit if they are going to have any chance of catching us in the team championship.
"They would love to close the gap on us and give themselves a chance of beating us to the title in the final two rounds of the season in Bahrain. But we intend to make it very tough for them, and we'll be using all our experience."
Holding a 19-point team championship lead over Al Faisal and his Falcons teammate, Faisal Binladen, Al Azhari and Schmid are very much in the driving seat ahead of Rounds 9 and 10 of the GT3 Cup series today and tomorrow. With 50 points at stake over the weekend, however, they cannot afford any hiccups, and Schmid is aware of the need to avoid trouble to stay ahead in the drivers' title race.
He conceded the advantage to Al Faisal at Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina Circuit back in December when a broken gear cable cost him victory in Round 3, and a spin 24 hours later saw him drop from contention to fifth place.
But the young Austrian star reclaimed the lead with back-to-back wins at Reem International Circuit last month as Al Faisal crashed out of Round 8, and he is determined to block out the Saudi driver over the season's last four races.
Schmid has a remarkable record in the series. He has topped qualifying in 15 of the 17 rounds he has contested since the start of last season, and has turned 12 of those pole positions into race victories, with six wins in eight outings so far this season.
"He is back in front where he deserves to be," Al Azhari said. "He has been on top form all season and I'm thrilled for him. He's where he belongs now, and I expect him to stay there".