Schmid and Al Harthy to lead Nabooda challenge

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Schmid and Al Harthy to lead Nabooda challenge

Defending champions set for Porsche GT3 Cup Middle East

By Moni Matthews (principal Correspondent)

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Published: Wed 22 Oct 2014, 12:58 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:31 PM

K. Rajaram, Vijay Rao and Ahmad Al Harthy during the Al Nabooda Racing Press conference on Tuesday. Photo by Juidin Bernarrd/ Khaleej Times

K. Rajaram, Vijay Rao and Ahmad Al Harthy during the Al Nabooda Racing Press conference on Tuesday. Photo by Juidin Bernarrd/ Khaleej Times

Dubai: Clemens Schmid and Ahmad Al Harthy will lead champions Al Nabooda Racing at this year’s Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East. The two-time back to back champions will be going all out for a grand hat-trick during the 2014-15 season.

With a top driver lineup supported by Nabooda’s technical backup, it will be a challenge for the rest of the field to attain podium finishes.

Austria’s Schmid with Oman’s Al Harthy form the region’s most experienced circuit drivers team, according to the additional information for the media, on Tuesday.

This was announced at a media conference at the Porche showroom in Dubai on Tuesday where K. Rajaram, CEO, Al Nabooda Atomobiles; Vijay Rao, Team Manager and General Manager, Al Nabooda Automobiles LLC, Porsche Importer Dubai & Northern Emirates; and Al Harthy occupied the main table. Al Nabooda Racing secured a second successive team title in the Porsche GT3 Cup series last season, finishing with a 65-point margin over the runners up, Saudi Falcons. They won the team prize outright in seven of 12 rounds, sharing top place on another occasion and finishing runners up twice.

Al Harthy, who replaces Karim Al Azhari in the Al Nabooda Racing team, will be returning to the Porsche GT3 Cup series in which he finished sixth overall in the 2011-12 season despite making only a limited number of appearances. He scored his maiden race win in the series that season at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit.

“We’re very pleased to welcome Ahmad to the team and to pair him with Clemens for the first time,” said Rajaram, “We believe this is a combination which can help us secure the team championship for a third year. I’d like to place on record our sincere thanks to Karim Al Azhari, who has given Al Nabooda Racing great service since 2005, and played an important part in establishing the team as the No.1 in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East over the last two seasons,” he added.

Schmid and Al Harthy will take the wheel of identical brand new 2015 Porsche GT3 Cup Cars when the 12-round, one-make series enters its sixth season, with the first two rounds taking place at Bahrain International Circuit on from November 14 to 15.

Rao said: “Our success over the last two seasons has made us eager for more, but it has also made us the team to beat so it will be even more challenging this time to win the championship.

“We’ll need to work harder than ever to keep hold of our No.1 spot, but we have a combination of drivers who are up for the task, and are confident that Ahmad will form a successful partnership with Clemens.” Schmid was unable to attend the Press conference after his car was hit from behind in Sunday’s final round of the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany at Hockenheim.

But he expects to race in next week’s final round of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup in the US and will start the new GT3 Cup season with Al Nabooda Racing in Bahrain.

Schmid won seven of 12 rounds in the 2012-13 campaign as Al Nabooda Racing secured the double of team and individual drivers’ titles. His seven race wins last season put the Dubai outfit in control of the team championship again, while he was edged into second place in the drivers’ standings by a single point. Al Harthy said: “I’m very happy to join Al Nabooda Racing and to have the chance to drive for the top team in the Porsche GT3 Cup series. I’ve raced against Clemens so I know how good a driver he is and I’m sure that we can form a winning partnership. Like all racing drivers, we both want to win races, but the priority is to support each other and put the team first, as the main goal is to secure the team title for a third year in a row.”

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