RIBADOURO (PORTUGAL): Sunday, September 16: Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qemzi delivered a decisive winning performance at the Grand Prix of Portugal to inject life into the defence of his UIM F2 World Championship title. The Emirati used his pole qualifying position to full advantage, overcame a restart situation and gradually began to pull away from the rest of the field on the Duoro River in Portugal.
Running out of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC), Al-Qemzi reached the chequered flag 11.19 seconds in front of Portugal’s local favourite Duarte Benavente and, with series leader Alberto Comparato only managing to finish sixth, Al-Qemzi heads to the final race in Sri Lanka trailing the Italian by an unofficial 16 points with 20 available for the win.
Al-Qemzi’s team-mate Rashed Al-Tayer qualified for the race in 11th position and moved up two places to be running in ninth overall for the majority of the race. Lithuania’s Edgaras Riabko held second place for much of the race before slipping behind Benavente, while Tobias Munthe-Kaas was classified in fourth place. Four-time UIM F1 H2O World Champion Alex Carella of the Victory Team headed series leader Alberto Comparato in fifth.
“This is a fantastic result for the team and a victory that I knew I had to achieve to stand any chance of winning the World Championship again,” said Al-Qemzi. “The team did a fantastic job with the boat. We showed in qualifying that we were the quickest and to bring it home in first place is a perfect result.”
Etihad Airways is the official carrier for Team Abu Dhabi that is also supported by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and runs under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Khalifa Al-Nahyan, advisor to the Head of State and chairman of the board of directors of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club and under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Sultan Bin Khalifa Al-Nahyan, Vice-President and CEO of the ADIMSC. The racing team runs under the auspices of the ADIMSC and board member and general manager Salem Al-Remeithi and team manager Guido Cappellini.
Grand Prix of Portugal
In addition to the fastest 15 qualifiers for the race on the five-pin, 1.765km race course, a further five were permitted to join the rear of the field after making it through the Repecharge race on Sunday morning.
Al-Qemzi lined up on pole position for the 45-lap race and was flanked at the start by Duarte Benavente, Edgaras Riabko and Alex Carella. Rupert Temper and Hector Sanz – who made a remarkable recovery from his crash on Saturday – failed to make it through the last chance saloon after allegedly jump starting the Repecharge green light. Sanz had qualified in fifth place in a race won by Kalle Viippo. Frenchman Philippe Tourre was sidelined before the start after concerns with his safety breathing apparatus.
The race was yellow flagged immediately after an incident involving Daniel Segenmark and boats were called back to the pontoon for an official restart. Segenmark’s damaged hull was removed from the water.
Al-Qemzi made a terrific start and stormed out in front and began to pull away from his rivals, as Benavente held second and Riabko was third through lap one. The Team Abu Dhabi driver’s lead was six seconds through lap three and Al-Tayer was also on the move and up to ninth overall. Tobias Munthe-Kaas, meanwhile, was under investigation for a jump start.
Riabko passed the Portuguese and began to push on in a bid to catch the leader but the gap remained constant through six laps. The Lithuanian reduced Al-Qemzi’s lead to 4.4 seconds through eight laps and the difference was 3.18 seconds after lap nine and 2.87 seconds heading into lap 11.
Al-Qemzi responded after catching back markers and the margin grew to 4.31 seconds into lap 14, as the leaders held station in a procession. There were no changes to the running order after 19 laps but the leading margin was 10.54 seconds as Al-Qemzi began to put in some impressive lap times topped by a 45.56sec flyer.
Twenty-three laps down and the Emirati’s lead was 16.38 seconds over Riabko. Benavente, Munthe-Kaas and Carella maintained their top five places and Al-Tayer was settled in ninth place. By lap 30, Al-Qemzi’s advantage was 17.10 seconds as the procession continued with Benavente continuing to challenge Riabko for second place. Trim pump failure accounted for Finland’s Kalle Viippo, who had qualified for the race through the repecharge.
Al-Qemzi held on to claim his first win of the season and rekindle hopes of defending his world title and Benavente found a way to pass Riabko and snatch second place.
The UIM F2 World Championship draws to a conclusion at the end of November with a brand new addition to the racing calendar with the Colombo-based Grand Prix of Sri Lanka.
2018 Grand Prix of Portugal – result (unofficial @16.54hrs):
1. Rashed Al-Qemzi (UAE) 43.68sec
2. Duarte Benavente (PRT) @11.19sec
3. Edgaras Riabko (LIT) @35.97sec
4. Tobias Munthe-Kaas (NOR) @36.59sec
5. Alex Carella (ITA) @39.37sec
6. Alberto Comparato (ITA) @40.47sec
7. Brent Dillard (USA) @41.56sec
8. Ferdinand Zandbergen (NED) @42.84sec
9. Rashed Al-Tayer (UAE) @43.72sec
10. Bimba Sjöholm (SWE) @47.28sec
11. Oskar Samuelsson (SWE) L1
12. Ola Pettersson (SWE) L1
13. Steve Hoult (GBR) L1
14. Owen Jelf (GBR) L1
15. Luca Fornasarig (ITA) L6
Kalle Viippo (FIN) RET
Mette Bjerknaes (NOR) RET
Gavin Bricker (AUS) RET
Daniel Segenmark (SWE) RET
Philippe Tourre (FRA) DNS
2018 UIM F2 World Championship – positions after round 4:
1. Alberto Comparato (ITA) 45pts
2. Tobias Munthe-Kaas (NOR) 31pts
3. Rashed Al-Qemzi (UAE) 29pts
4. Edgaras Riabko (LIT) 27pts
5. Duarte Benavente (PRT) 18pts
5. Brent Dillard (USA) 18pts
7. Rashed Al-Tayer (UAE) 14pts
8. Stefan Hagin (DEU) 12pts
9. Daniel Segenmark (SWE) 11pts
10. Alex Carella (ITA) 7pts
11. Héctor Sanz (ESP) 5pts
12. Ola Pettersson (SWE) 4pts
13. Ferdinand Zandbergen (NED) 3pts
13. Rupert Temper (AUT) 3pts
13. Bimba Sjöholm (SWE) 3pts
16. Oskar Samuelsson (SWE) 2pts
17. Mette Bjerknaes (NOR) 1pt
17. Kalle Viippo (FIN) 1pt