KUWAIT CITY, Nov 10: Zaid Ashkanani believes that his new partnership with Jeffrey Schmidt for Al Nabooda Racing can give his career a big boost and guide Al Nabooda Racing to a double title triumph in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.
Kuwaiti Ashkanani, who won the Porsche GT3 Cup drivers’ crown in 2013-14 and finished runner-up last season, lines up alongside Swiss driver Schmidt for the first time in the opening race weekend of the new season at Bahrain International Circuit.
“I’m really excited to have joined Al Nabooda Racing, the best team in the Middle East,” said Ashkanani. “It’s another step forward in my career as a professional racing driver. I’ve had some good battles with them before and now I’m looking forward to racing with them.
“For the last two years I have always worked alone because I didn’t have a team mate for support, and to talk through the races. So it will be very helpful to have someone as experienced as Jeffrey with me this season.
“He worked with us as a coach last year and we talked a lot together. I can learn a lot from him because he’s really experienced in the Porsche GT3 Cup car.”
Added Ashkanani: “We’re both winners and we would both love to take the drivers’ title this season. But the main focus is on bringing the team title back to Al Nabooda Racing for the third time in four years and we’ll work together to achieve that.”
The 2015-16 Porsche GT3 Cup season gets underway in Bahrain from 20-21 November, with the five other race weekends to follow at Reem International Circuit in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit, Dubai Autodrome (2) and finally Bahrain again from March 4-5.
While Al Nabooda Racing had to settle for runners up spot last season after dominating the team championship for the two previous years, their haul of five outright or shared team race victories in the 2014-15 campaign was not bettered.
The team also produced the champion driver for the second time in three years in Clemens Schmid, who has since moved on.
“Our target is very clear — to win back the team title and in doing that make sure that one of our drivers takes the individual championship,” said Vijay Rao, Al Nabooda Racing Team Manager and General Manager, Al Nabooda Automobiles LLC. “It will certainly not be easy, but we believe Zaid and Jeffrey can form a winning combination.”