x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Day of mixed fortunes for Nabooda Racing pair

Austrian Schmid makes up with win in Round 5 after Al Azhari is penalised for a jump start.

Clemens Schmid made a mistake at the start as pole leader but no damage was done. Pawan Singh / The National
Clemens Schmid made a mistake at the start as pole leader but no damage was done. Pawan Singh / The National

Karim Al Azhari apologised to his Al Nabooda Racing team and pledged to bounce back into today's Round 6 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East after a jump start cost him a podium finish in yesterday's Round 5 at Dubai Autodrome.

The Emirati had finished the race in third place, but was given a 20-second penalty for his infringement, dropping him down to seventh place.

"I made a simple mistake at the grid, where I was trying to find the biting point, but I crept forward of the grid," Al Azhari said.

"Rules are rules and I was judged to have broken them. I am sorry for the team and I have to make it up in Round 6."

It was not all bad news for the Al Nabooda team as Al Azhari's teammate Clemens Schmid dominated the race to win for the third time this season.

The Austrian led throughout after qualifying on pole position, but he said he was relieved to get away with a mistake at the start.

"The only time I was in trouble out there was on the very first corner," he said.

"I didn't realise just how slippery it was out there.

"After surviving that scare I managed to build up a good gap and with five laps to go I was able to save tires. It ended up being a fairly easy win in the end."

Al Azhari's fine start, which would prove to have been too good, got him ahead of Abdulaziz Al Faisal, the championship leader.

Though Al Faisal would go on to get past Al Azhari in his Saudi Falcons car, Schmid believed that his teammate had done him a favour.

"Karim made it easier for me by battling with Al Faisal," he said.

"While them two were fighting it out, it gave me the opportunity to extend my lead over Al Faisal and cruise to victory.

"But I expect AlFaisal to be back tomorrow and give me more of a challenge."

The result allowed Schmid to close to within 14 points of Al Faisal, but the champion was happy with his day's work and confident of better in today's race. "I started second and finished second so it wasn't too bad," the Saudi Arabian said.

"But I had an awful start and made the same mistake as Clemens on the first corner. By the time I recovered I'd lost three places but fought back. It took me a few laps to get past Karim and by the time I did Clemens was clear.

"I recorded the fastest lap of the race so I'm going to be pushing hard tomorrow for Round 6."

Raeed Raffi was the beneficiary of Al Azhari's penalty as he took third place, while Christina Nielsen enjoyed her best result of the season as she finished fifth.

The Danish driver said: "I'm pleased with fifth as it could have been even better.

"We have tomorrow and I'm looking forward to that."

Qualifying takes place today at 11.35am at the Autodrome with Round 6 beginning at 4.45pm.

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