x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Clemens Schmid and Dubai's Al Nabooda cruise to Porsche GT3 Cup championships

Dubai's Al Nabooda Racing driver Clemens Schmid is runner-up behind teammate Karim Al Azhari in Bahrain but he still wins Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East series title.

Al Nabooda Racing teammates Clemens Schmid, left, and Karim Al Azhari were the top two finishers at the Porsche GT3 Bahrain race on Saturday. Courtesy photo
Al Nabooda Racing teammates Clemens Schmid, left, and Karim Al Azhari were the top two finishers at the Porsche GT3 Bahrain race on Saturday. Courtesy photo

Clemens Schmid secured his maiden Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East title on Saturday after finishing second in Round 12 at Bahrain International Circuit in a fitting finale to the season.

Starting second on the 14-car grid, behind his Al Nabooda Racing teammate Karim Al Azhari and 12-points clear before the start of the race, Schmid could not overtake the Emirati to win the race.

But second place was enough to win him the title, as rival Abdulaziz Al Faisal of the Saudi Falcons, the only driver capable of taking the crown finished third.

The second place finish for the Austrian in the most exciting race of the season means Schmid secured the title by 14 points from two-time championship winner Al Faisal. Schmid finished with 262 points while UAE's Al Azhari was third overall with 224 points.

"It is an amazing feeling to win the double, individual champion and team title," said Schmid. "This is my first title and it completes a great season for me. I did not complete one race in Abu Dhabi but everything else fell in place perfectly for me. Al Faisal has made me a better driver by challenging me throughout the season. He is a true champion."

The title showdown began with both challengers being upstaged by Al Azhari who started in pole position on the 12-lap, 5.41-kilometre track, meaning Al Faisal, third on the grid, had it all to do from the second row to keep hold of his trophy.

The permutations before the race were clear; Schmid had to finish in the top eight to secure his first title.

In a pulsating race where the lead changed frequently between the Al Nabooda pair, Al Azhari was overtaken by Schmid on the second lap.

Despite the best efforts of Al Faisal, last season's champion found himself crowded out and was unable to force his way through to the front two from the Dubai-based Al Nabooda team.

The battle between Schmid and Al Azhari was compelling, but in the end the UAE driver showed all his experience to clinch his first race win of the season.

Al Faisal said: "Congratulations to Clemens Schmid on a fantastic season. He has shown all season what a great future he has in the sport and he deserves the title.

"My target was to be in first position on the first corner but I was crowded out by the Al Nabooda duo. They both had a great battle between themselves but unfortunately I could not break through. I will be back next season to win back the championship."

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