Clemens Schmid is targeting another double race win at Dubai Autodrome this weekend to tighten the grip Al Nabooda Racing holds on the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East for a second season.
Four times last season, including the corresponding race weekend in Dubai, the young Austrian scored back-to-back victories on his way to the GT3 Cup drivers’ title and a team championship triumph shared with Karim Al Azhari.
It was a case of déjà vu at Bahrain International Circuit two weeks ago as Schmid dominated the two opening rounds of the 2013-14 campaign, and while he is taking nothing for granted this weekend, his sights are firmly set on another repeat performance.
“I won both races in Dubai last year and it’s my favourite track in the Middle East,” he said. “If you’re coming back to a track where everything went so well the last time you drove there, it gives you a lot of confidence.
“I’m still getting used to the new GT3 Cup car and there are a lot of quick guys on the grid, so it will be a big fight. But I hope to win again.”
Al Nabooda Racing has an immediate lead in the team title race after Bahrain, where Al Azhari started with a podium finish in the first round.
“We had a really good start in the season, and straight away are out in front in the team championship, but it will not be easy to stay there,” said Schmid.
“The series is really competitive now. Most of the drivers are within a second of each other and it’s very easy to fall down the grid. I think we’re going to see some great battles this season and some of the other teams will push us really hard.”
The new SkyDive Dubai Falcons, last year’s runners up the Saudi Falcons, and Team Bahrain are all eager to prevent Al Nabooda Racing from cruising to another double championship success, and Schmid and Al Azhari know they will have to be at their best at Dubai Autodrome.
“It will be a really tough fight,” said Schmid. “There are three or four strong teams, but Karim and I will push each other to the limit and work hard together to keep hold of the team title. That’s the main target for us again, and winning the drivers’ championship will be a bonus.”
After today’s morning testing at Dubai Autodrome, official practice on Thursday is followed by qualifying session ahead of the 14-lap GT3 Cup Round 3. Round 4 takes place on Friday afternoon.
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, team standings after 2 rounds:
1. Al Nabooda Racing 82pts
2. SkyDive Dubai Falcons 68pts
3. Saudi Falcons 52pts
4. Team Bahrain 47pts
5. Milon Racing (Germany) 30pts
1. Clemens Schmid (Al Nabooda Racing) 50pts
2. Zaid Ashkanani(KUW) 46pts
3. Hasher Al Maktoum (UAE) 40pts
4. Karim Al Azhari (UAE) 32pts
5. Mohammed Mattar (BAH) 32pts
6. Abdulaziz Al Faisal (KSA) 30pts
7. Saeed Al Mehairi (UAE) 28pts
8. Hubert Haupt (GER) 25pts
9. Faisal Binladen (KSA) 22pts
10. Hannes Waimer (GER) 21pts
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