x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Clemens Schmid tightens the Porsche GT3 chase with Abdulaziz Al Faisal

Clemens Schmid closes the gap between himself and Porsche GT3 Cup points leader Abdulaziz Al Faisal to 10 points with a win at the Reem International Circuit in Saudi Arabia.

Austria's Clemens Schmid of the Al Nabooda Racing Team is currently 10  points behind Porsche GT3 Cup Middle East points leader Abdulaziz Al Faisal.
Austria's Clemens Schmid of the Al Nabooda Racing Team is currently 10 points behind Porsche GT3 Cup Middle East points leader Abdulaziz Al Faisal.

Clemens Schmid moved to within 10 points of the lead of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East on Wednesday as he triumphed in Round 7 at Reem International Circuit in Saudi Arabia.

The Austrian driver's fifth win of the season saw him close the gap on championship leader Abdulaziz Al Faisal, who finished second.

"It was a fantastic race for me as I held my position from start to finish," said the UAE-based Al Nabooda Racing driver. "I knew Abdulaziz was going to be in contention and once he overtook [Faisal] Binladen early in the race I knew he was going to push me hard.

"But I knew if I can hold my lead in the opening lap, I will win the race."

Schmid led throughout the 17-laps, but came under fierce pressure in the second half of the race from Al Faisal, who had quickly moved up the order after a disappointing qualifying session had seen him start only fourth on the grid.

Al Faisal, while disappointed not to triumph in his home race, is optimistic he can go one better in today's second race.

"I believe I drove a good race, and am happy where I finished in the end," he said.

"I knew once I overtook Faisal I could put pressure on Clemens, and I had an opportunity in the middle of the race to overtake him but made a small mistake which cost me first place.

"But I will be back tomorrow and ensure I don't make the same mistakes I made today."

Al Faisal's Saudi Falcons teammate and compatriot Faisal Binladen completed the podium as he finished third, and he said: "This is a victory for the team as it puts pressure on Al Nabooda in the team title category.

"I am feeling great with my performance today, everything was perfect for me and I hope I can replicate it all in Round 8."

The result sees Saudi Falcons close to within 16 points of Al Nabooda in the team category.

It was a frustrating day for Schmid's teammate Karim Al Azhari. The UAE driver had qualified only sixth on the grid, and he was unable to move up the order in the race as he finished where he started.

Qualifying for Thursday's race takes place Thursday morning, with the race in the afternoon.

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