Skydive Dubai Falcons lift GT3 team trophy in thrilling finale

Anthony Fernandes 05:34 20/04/2015
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  • On the road to glory: Skydive Dubai Falcons.

    Skydive Dubai Falcons finished their Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge season on a high, sealing the team title with a dominant performance in the final two races at Bahrain International Circuit.

    Going into the weekend, Skydive Dubai Falcons were eight points adrift of season-long leaders Al Nabooda Racing and requiring a herculean effort from Hasher Al Maktoum and Saeed Al Mehairi to reel in Clemens Schmid and teammate Ahmed Al Harthy.

    As luck would have it, Schmid and main title rival Zain Ashkanani retired in Race 1 of the final round on Saturday, with Al Maktoum and Al Mehairi finishing second and fifth respectively to take home 40 valuable points that catapulted their team to the top of the standings.

    However, the Skydive pair were aware that protecting the 17-point lead going into the final race yesterday would not be an easy task and that nothing short of a strong finish could ensure them the team title.

    And come the final race of the season, the Skydive duo delivered in style – Al Mehairi finishing second and Al Maktoum completing the podium in third.

    Ashkanani and Schmid faltered at the last hurdle, managing fourth and fifth place respectively. This gave Skydive Dubai Falcons the team title, eventually finishing 21 points ahead of Al Nabooda Racing.

    Saudi Arabia’s Fahad Algosaibi won the final race, adding to his triumph in Race 1 on Saturday.

    Schmid, who dominated the season with seven first places from 12 races, dethroned defending drivers’ champion Ashkanani to seal the individual crown by 10 points over his Kuwaiti rival.

    For Al Mehairi and Al Maktoum, in just their second season in the one-make series, the late charge not only gave them the team title, but the pair finished third and fourth overall in the driver standings.

    Al Maktoum said afterwards: “I’ve had my best weekend of the series so I’m proud of our achievements as a team for Skydive Dubai Falcons. Winning the team title was always the priority and we did it for Dubai.

    “Naturally, as a racing driver I’m slightly disappointed not to win today. I felt I did enough and had led for every lap apart the last one.

    “To slip down to third was a shame but after standing on the podium with my team-mate, hearing the anthem and knowing that we won the team category was a very special feeling.”

    And team-mate Al Mehairi added: “Today we set out with very clear tactics to drive calm, smooth and clean. That’s all we needed to do to win the team title and we stuck to our task.

    “It couldn’t have gone any better. Last year we were rookies but we worked so hard. One year on and we’ve won the team title as well as claiming first and second in our silver category. I’m really happy and hope we can defend the title next season.”

    After winning the drivers’ title Schmid said: “This weekend didn’t go exactly to plan. Today I pushed as hard as I could without taking any risks but still we didn’t make the podium so we weren’t able to retain the team title.

    “I’m pleased to have won the drivers’ championship and I dedicate the win to all at Al Nabooda Racing. Personally, it’s been another great experience. The standard keeps improving and I had to fight all season to secure the title.”