Karim Al Azhari, one of the UAE’s most experienced racing drivers, aims to sharpen his skills on the race tracks of Europe this summer as he looks to boost his assault on the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East next season.
Driving for AL Nabooda Racing, Al Azhari made an immediate impact on the Porsche one-make series last season, surprising even himself with two podium finishes after entering the 12-round championship at the half way stage.
With the new season still several months away, he will be looking to snatch an advantage over some of his main rivals during the summer months.
“I believe the best preparation for racing is to spend as much time as you can in the car, both during the season and our off season between April and November,” said Al Azhari. “During the summer I go racing in Europe while other drivers spend time in the gym. That may make them fitter, but by the time the new season comes around I’ll be sharper as a driver.
“This has always been one of my strengths. If I was out of racing for four months I’d be useless. I’m never out of a racing car for more than a few weeks at a time. That’s what keeps me at my top level.”
Al Azhari added: “I’m competing in a series of races in Europe this summer at FIA GT3 level. I’ve already done one race a few weeks ago in a Porsche at the Nurburgring where I finished on the podium. The aim is continue my advancement in motor sport internationally. Racing in Europe during the summer will also be beneficial for me in Porsche GT3 Cup terms because it will keep me sharp for the start of next season.”
Al Azhari is determined to build on the success he has enjoyed with Dubai-based Al Nabooda Racing, the team he set up with Al Nabooda Automobiles seven years ago.
Together they won the Gulf Radical Championship in 2005 and 2006 and then collected successive UAE GT racing titles in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Last season saw the team enter the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, the region’s headline motor racing series.
Despite starting his campaign halfway through the season, Al Azhari was quickly up to speed, notching his first podium place in Qatar in only his third race outing, and grabbing another third place finish during the final race weekend in Bahrain.
“I really exceeded my expectations,” he confessed. “It’s a very challenging championship and I knew that the competition was going to be very strong, particularly as this was my first season and I was starting at the half way point.”
Al Azhari, a devoted father of three young boys, is currently doing his best to not to influence them with his love for life in the fast lane. “I try to keep them away from racing as much as possible to broaden their experiences in life, but I believe there is a big chance they may finally find their way into motor sport. In racing they say that when you have your first kid you slow down as a driver. But having three kids in the last six years has made me faster. Maybe I need to have some more kids.”