x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Al Nabooda eye team glory at Dubai Autodrome

Emirati driver hopes to join teammate at top of podium

Karim Al Azhari and Al Nabooda Racing hope to come good when the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East visits Dubai this week. Courtesy Jorge Ferrari
Karim Al Azhari and Al Nabooda Racing hope to come good when the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East visits Dubai this week. Courtesy Jorge Ferrari

Karim Al Azhari warned rivals battling for honours in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East that they have yet to see the best of him, teammate Clemens Schmid and their Al Nabooda Racing team.

Schmid won the two opening races of the season in Bahrain last month, leading every lap of both events, to start his championship title defence in perfect fashion, while Al Azhari experienced a more mixed weekend, finishing fourth and 10th.

On Friday, the UAE-based team are competing at the Dubai Autodrome in the third and fourth rounds of the season.

Al Azhari believes he can move on from the issues that hurt him in Bahrain.

“I had some issues with the front tyres, and now I have to look at the data from the whole weekend in Bahrain and work with my engineers to iron out any problems,” he said.

“Because the competition is so strong, you need to be very accurate in everything you do. A small mistake moves you down the field very quickly. You need to be sharp and seize an opportunity when it presents itself.”

The Emirati is targeting a podium finish in Dubai, but he also expects another big display from Schmid this weekend at a circuit where he won twice when the series visited last season.

“Clemens may be young, but he’s a very mature driver and I just expect him to get better,” Al Azhari said.

“He has huge potential. He proved again in Bahrain how good he is, and if he continues like this, he’s going to make a lot more headlines in the international arena.

“He looks cool, and he really is that way. We spend a lot of time together for the week when we’re racing here, and he’s always very relaxed.

“It’s not an act that he puts on. That’s a great advantage to have when the racing is so intense, as it is now in this series.”

Schmid holds a lead of four points over Kuwaiti Zaid Ashkanani, who twice finished second in the Bahrain races.

After testing at the Autodrome tomorrow, official practice takes place on Thursday and is followed by two qualifying sessions.

Schmid is aiming to repeat his success in Bahrain, where he claimed pole position for both races, setting up his victory charge.

The two 14-lap races will take place on Friday afternoon.

sports@thenational.ae