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Jan 07, 2014 - 06:42 AM
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Al Nabooda Racing Aim For Double GT3 Cup Title Boost In Qatar
Posted by: newsla on Jan 07, 2014 - 06:41 AM
Sports Cars
Al Nabooda Racing Aim For Double GT3 Cup Title Boost In Qatar


Karim Al Azhari believes the next four rounds of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East could be critical as Al Nabooda Racing look to tighten their grip on the region’s top circuit racing series over back-to-back weekends in Qatar.

 

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The Dubai-based outfit hold a 35-point team championship lead over SkyDive Dubai Falcons heading into the halfway point of the 2013-14 season, with Rounds 5-6 taking place under the brilliant lights at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit on 17-18 January, followed by Rounds 7-8 two weeks later at the same venue.

Al Azhari, defending the GT3 Cup team title with young Austrian star Clemens Schmid, says that with four rounds taking place in quick succession at the same 3.3 mile circuit, building confidence early will be important in order to gain a psychological advantage.

“The next four rounds at Losail are absolutely crucial in terms of the overall championship outcome,” said Al Azhari. “It’s the only place where we have four rounds in a row so it’s important to build the confidence very quickly.

“It’s not the kind of situation where, if things aren’t going well, you just try to get over it and start fresh somewhere else.

“We will be there for four back-to-back rounds and it’s the middle of the season, so it’s going to be a very important psychological period in the championship. If Qatar goes well the rest of the season will be much easier. On the other hand, whoever struggles is going to have a lot of work ahead of them for the rest of the championship.”

Al Azhari has good memories from Losail International Circuit, where he gained his first GT3 Cup podium finish two years ago, as does Schmid. He won both rounds there under lights last season on his way to capturing the individual drivers’ title, and has been in brilliant form again this season, winning three of the first four rounds to take a 24-point lead.

“The circuit in Qatar suits me because it’s very smooth,” added Al Azhari, who is looking to climb from his current fifth place in the drivers’ standings. “It flows very well and you just build a nice rhythm in the car, and I like that kind of driving.

“Because we race there at night, even though the circuit is well lit we can’t pick out a lot of the track details that we look for as racing drivers. We focus on reference points that are easy to see during practice, but at night it’s a bit more of challenge to pick these out and that can make things difficult.

“It’s particularly important in Qatar to build confidence behind the wheel so that, when the race starts, you have a good knowledge of the track and are not guessing when you go into any of the corners.”

Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, team standings after 4 rounds:

1. 1 Al Nabooda Racing 161pts

2. SkyDive Dubai Falcons 126pts

3. Saudi Falcons 121pts

4. Team Bahrain 83pts

5. Milon Racing (Germany) 69pts.

Drivers’ championship:

1. Clemens Schmid (Al Nabooda Racing) 98pts

2. Hasher Al Maktoum (UAE) 74pts

3. Zaid Ashkanani (KUW) 71pts

4. Abdulaziz Al Faisal (KSA) 70pts

5. Karim Al Azhari (UAE) 63pts

6. Hubert Haupt (GER) 53pts

7. Saeed Al Mehairi (UAE) 52pts

8. Faisal Binladen (KSA) 51pts

9. Christina Nielsen (DEN) 45pts

10. Hannes Waimer (GER) 38pts

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