Q&A with Total UAE GT Championship pace setter Karim Al Azhari
Dubai based Karim Al Azhari has won just about every championship he has ever entered in the UAE. He currently is the pace setter in the inaugural Total UAE GT Championship in the immaculately turned out House of Portier Corvette, prepared by TAM Auto Engineering.
From the moment they received their weapon for the 2009/2010 season they meant business and Al Azhari has delivered four wins out of four races. He will no doubt again be the man to beat as UAE national racing expands to Yas Marina for a weekend that will go down in history as local motorsport comes of age, with two world class circuits on the schedule.
Ahead of the Yas Marina weekend Al Azhari shares his views and thoughts.
What are your feelings/thoughts leading up to your first ever race in the Total UAE GT Championship at Yas Marina this weekend?
Karim: Firstly I would like to thank everyone at the DAMC, ATCUAE & ADMM for their great efforts of creating the UAE GT Championship and making it a truly professional Championship with a calendar that includes some of the world's most impressive race circuits. Of course I am extremely excited to make the trip to Yas for my team House of Portier with TAM Auto Engineering, and have my fingers crossed that we continue our professional approach to motor sports, and get some impressive results once again. I believe a podium finish should be possible since the team is perfect and our Callaway Corvette is strong. Personally I have been around at Yas a few times, five days working for Lamborghini and two days working for Porsche, so I believe I may have started finding the rhythm of the Circuit and some of its tricks.
You have been the driver to beat in the Total UAE GT series. What do you attribute this to?
Karim: I have worked hard to be on top of the sport, and I continue to be 100% focused mentally and physically in my job as the leading GT driver in the UAE. My success has not come overnight, I have raced and trained in many categories before proving myself to the top teams.
What do you make of your rivals buying better and faster cars and even importing drivers from abroad such as Rene Rast a known Porsche Cup expert who has won twice at Yas marina in the Porsche Cup?
Karim: This is credit to the organizers of the Total UAE GT for proving the durability of such a world class Championship, and it shows the tremendous interest of the UAE residents and businesses in motor sports.
Who are the teams/drivers that you think can challenge you around Yas?
Karim: We have seen a trend during the first half of the Championship that we have a few teams hanging on to our rear bumper including Khaleji Motorsports, DXB Racing, Falcon Racing & Apex Racing. To add to the excitement and growth of the Championship we are seeing new competitors every round who want to join the battle at the top including Raed Hassan with his strong Zytech Ginetta and Cytech with their proven Porsche Cup S. I expect several surprises out of everyone at Yas and believe it is impossible to predict the results.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
Karim: I wish to thank all the media of the UAE who have become exponentially more interested in motor sports, and recognize our world class championships in the Total UAE GT Championship and in my colleagues racing in the UAE Touring Car Championship. These are exciting times in the UAE as everyone has an interest in cars, and motor sports is the highest level of engineering for everything that makes its ways to road cars of the future; as well as being a great sport where companies can prove the quality of their products to a very attentive audience. Of course last but by no means least I have to thank my entire team who make such a big effort to get me on the grid. Glenn and Puspa Portier who make it happen with House of Portier and Motaz Abu-Hijleh and his crew who give our Corvette the muscle and of course Blair Cole who has my back out on track. Our success is shared as what I achieve is a result of a big team effort.
-source: uae gt