Thurs 7th Feb, 2013 – Clemens Schmid of Al Nabooda Racing claimed back-to-back wins in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at Reem International Circuit with a scintillating performance in an action-packed race.
Wed 6th Feb, – Round 7
After starting in pole on the 15-car grid, Schmid produced a faultless race from the front to claim a hat-trick of wins following victories in Dubai in Round 5 and 6 of season 4.
The young Austrian of the Dubai based team grabbed maximum points on the 17-lap 3.2 KM Reem International Circuit, seeing off challenges from arch rival and reigning champion and current championship leader Abdulaziz AlFaisal of the Saudi Falcons who finished second and his team mate Faisal BinLaden in third.
The result means Schmid has narrowed the gap in the overall driver standings to just ten points. AlFaisal remains the current leader of the championship with 163 points, Schmid in second on 153 points and Al-Azhari in third on 132 points after seven rounds of the region’s most exciting race series.
Having recorded a comfortable victory by 0.672 seconds over AlFaisal, a jubilant Schmid said: “It was a fantastic race for me as I held my position from start to finish. I knew Abdulaziz was going to be in contention and once he overtook 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.”
The start of the Reem Rounds started in stunning fashion in qualifying when the big guns were overpowered by the new generation. While Schmid was in familiar territory, Faisal Binladen produced his fastest laps of the season to start second on the grid, while teenager Fahad Algosaibi, in his one-off race weekend, defied the pecking order to start third on the grid. Reigning champion Abdulaziz AlFaisal was pushed down to fourth.
After fighting his way back into contention and the battle for first, AlFaisal in front of his adoring fans to secure second place, reigning champion AlFaisal said: “I believe I drove a good race, and am happy where I finished in the end. 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.”
Amidst the sandy dunes local favourite Faisal BinLaden was more than content to have gained a podium finish for the first time this season after starting second on the grid and finishing third behind teammate and friend Al Faisal.
A delighted, Binladen said: “This is a victory for the team as it puts pressure on Al Nabooda in the team title category and it means I am top of the Silver Michelin 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.”
With the top-three almost sorting themselves out, the battle to complete the top six was just as pulsating. Fahad Algosaibi, unsettled the order of play by producing a stunning performance to finish fourth, while Team Bahrain’s Raed Raffii claimed some valuable points in fifth and Karim Al-Azhari for six on a disappointing day the UAE’s Al Nabooda driver.
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East championship standings after Round 7 are: 1st Abdulaziz AlFaisal (163 points, 2nd Clemens Schmid (153 points), 3rd Karim Al-Azhari (132 points).
The 2nd and 3rd place finishes for the Saudi Falcons duo has added pressure on Al Nabooda in the fight for the team title. The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Team Standings after Round 7 are: 1st Al Nabooda (285 points) 2nd Saudi Falcons (269 points), 3rd Team Bahrain (233 points).
Thurs 7th – Round 8
Clemens Schmid wins Round 8 of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at Reem International Circuit
Clemens Schmid of Al Nabooda Racing claimed back-to-back wins in Round 8 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at Reem International Circuit with a scintillating performance in an action-packed race.
After starting in pole position on one of the strongest 15-car grids ever assembled in the history of the series, Schmid manufactured another textbook race to claim maximum points on the 17-lap 3.2 KM Reem International Circuit, seeing off challenges from Saudi Falcons Faisal Binladen, who finished in second and Mohammed Mattar of Team Bahrain in third.
With reigning champions Abdulaziz AlFaisal failing to finish Round 8 following a high-speed incident, the result means Schmid has now overtaken Saudi Falcons AlFaisal in the overall driver standings with 178 points. Following a disappointed weekend on his home circuit, AlFaisal moves down to second place, 6 points behind with 172 points and UAE’s Al-Azhari of Al Nabooda maintains third position on 142 points after eight rounds in the Middle East’s most exciting race series.
Having registered a comfortable victory of 2.35 seconds over Binladen, an ecstatic Schmid said: “It is a great feeling to win back-to-back races in Reem. The victory means I am leading in the championship standings with four rounds to go and hopefully I can keep hold of top spot. Even though it was comfortable for me, the real action was at the back, with positions changing regularly in the final few laps.”
As with the previous rounds qualifying, the big guns were once again overwhelmed by the youngsters. Schmid took up his customary position on the front of the grid, Fahad Algosaibi defied his teenage years to start second on the grid and Faisal Binladen, who recorded his first podium of the season in Round 7, in third. Once again Abdulaziz started fourth on the grid with Zaid Ashkanani in fifth and rookie Charlie Frijns in sixth.
Schmid started just as he had finished Round 7, once again dominating the race from pole to the chequered flag, without being tested by those fighting for second place including Algosaibi, Binladen and Abdulaziz. With Schmid winning easily, the pulsating action further down the field saw Binladen show all his skills, courage and local knowledge to secure second place.
The battle for the final podium position changed regularly, with Fahad Algosaibi leading for the majority of the race, until an incident with home favourite Abdulaziz knocked him down the pecking order, which enabled Karim Al-Azhari to take the position. But the Al Nabooda Racing driver could not hold onto it for long as Team Bahrain’s Mohammed Mattar overtook him in the closing stages of the race to claim the final podium.
With two second-places during the race weekend in front of his adoring fans, Binladen was happy with his weekend’s work. He added: “I am very happy with my performances this weekend. I have performed consistently throughout but could not overtake Clemens who was very fast in this race. Starting third on the grid, I overtook Fahad in the first corner but the gap created by Schmid was too big to reduce.”
Despite leading in third position for the majority of the race, Algosaibi had to settle for seventh place, with Manfred Ender claiming his first top six by finishing fourth, Hannes Waimer claimed fifth and Charlie Frijns finished in sixth.
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East championship standings after Round 8 are: 1st Clemens Schmid (178 points), 2nd Abdulaziz AlFaisal (172 points), 3rd Karim Al-Azhari (142 points), 4th Faisal BinLaden (129 points) and 5th Zaid Ashkanani (119 points)
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Team Standings after Round 8 are: 1st Al Nabooda (320 points) 2nd Saudi Falcons (301 points), 3rd Team Bahrain (261 points).
Season 4 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East returns in Qatar with Rounds 9 and 10 at the Losail International Circuit on 8th and 9th March 2013.
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