TEAM ABU DHABI 35 PRODUCES SENSATIONAL FIGHTBACK TO FINISH FOURTH AT ROUEN ENDURANCE RACE

TEAM ABU DHABI 35 PRODUCES SENSATIONAL FIGHTBACK TO FINISH FOURTH AT ROUEN ENDURANCE RACE

                            Early leaders Team Abu Dhabi 36 sidelined when Rashed Al-Remeithi blows over after 86 laps 

                             Outright victory falls to Team Nollet 1; Team Privilege 25 seals second and Class S2 success 

 

ROUEN (FRANCE): Monday, May 1:  Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al-Qemzi, Alex Carella, Rashed Al-Tayer and Majed Al-Mansoori produced a sensational fight back to finish fourth in the S2 class and sixth overall in the 54th 24 Hours of Rouen on France’s River Seine on Monday afternoon.

The team lost their chance of retaining their Class S2 title when Carella somersaulted the Team Abu Dhabi 35 DAC boat after 267 laps and the crew plummeted down the rankings while the boat was repaired. But that was the start of a stunning fight back through the field on the opening round of the UIM World Endurance Championship.

The race finished late on Monday afternoon and the team running out of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) was able to complete 678 laps after repairs and missed out on a podium finish by just four laps. The overall race win fell to the French Team Nollet crew that included triple UIM F1 H2O World Champion and five-time Rouen winner Philippe Chiappe and his CTIC Shenzhen team-mate Peter Morin. Team Privilege 25 won Class S2 and finished second overall. 

The Emirati quartet of Mohammed Al-Mehairbi, Faleh Al-Mansoori, Rashed Al-Remeithi and Majed Al-Mansoori raced in Team Abu Dhabi 36, with Majed Al-Mansoori replacing Rashed Al-Qemzi at the 11th hour. The quartet actually led the race outright for a short period of time around the two-hour mark, but suffered a bitter setback after 86 laps when their UIM F4 and F2 reserve driver Al-Remeithi was caught out by the spray coming from two boats running ahead of him and his boat blew over. The Emirati was not injured in the incident but the DAC’s left sponson was completely destroyed in the incident. 

“This is one of the most famous endurance races in the world and both our teams showed their pace and determination and both were leading at one point in the early stages of the race,” said Salem Al-Remeithi, general manager of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC). “It’s disappointing that we were not able to retain the S2 class title, but the race was fantastic experience for everyone and gave our drivers the chance for valuable time in the race boats.”

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 race 

Despite a delay of 40 minutes before the start, the Team Abu Dhabi boats began strongly and with just under two hours on the clock, VSI Racing was leading the 28-boat entry and heading class S1, while Team Abu Dhabi 36 was in a solid third overall and second in S2 behind New Star 2, having run for 44 laps on the Seine course. Team Abu Dhabi 35 was down in 10th, six laps behind, and eighth in the S2 class. 

Team Abu Dhabi 36 actually snatched the overall lead for a lap or so soon afterwards before slipping behind again. After five hours, Team Nollet and VSI Racing led overall and Xtrem Racing 26 headed class S2. Team Abu Dhabi 35 was in fifth overall and third in S2 – just two laps behind the leaders - but Team Abu Dhabi 36 had fallen to ninth in S2 after Al-Remeithi’s accident and was withdrawn by the team.

By one-quarter distance, after six hours, Team Abu Dhabi 35 had climbed to the top of the S2 standings, had run 175 laps and was one lap ahead of the French Xtrem Racing 26 crew in their Moore. Rain had dampened spirits during the course of the session.

Carella was running strongly at the head of the S2 class battle, but the Italian barrel-rolled his DAC after around nine hours and 267 laps and the team lost the class lead while the boat was retrieved and Carella was treated for slight shock. Damage was not as severe on 35 as it had been on boat 36 and the decision was made to repair the damage around the same time as the front-running New Star 20 suffered gear case issues. By the 10-hour mark, Team Privilege 25 led the S2 section by 22 laps from Team Nollet 26.

Team Abu Dhabi managed to repair boat 35 and the crew returned to the water before nightfall. With just over 10 hours to run and shortly before the seven-hour break after the first 15-hour stint, Team Privilege led the S2 class by 19 laps from New Star 1. Team Abu Dhabi 35 was back up to 11th overall and running eighth in S2. 

But the Team Abu Dhabi 35 charge had only just begun and the fight back continued throughout Sunday morning.  With 19 hours on the clock, Team Privilege continued to lead the S2 class by 47 laps from New Star 2 and the Abu Dhabi boat was running in sixth overall and fourth in class, a mere 13 laps behind New Star 1 and closing in on a podium finish. With New Star 1 out of the water, Team Abu Dhabi 35 continued to press on and reduced the Russian team’s hold on third place to just five laps with 4hrs 41min of the race to run. 

But, with the gap down to just four laps, New Star 1 returned to action heading into the last 4hrs 25mins to move ahead again and a static Team Abu Dhabi 35 was passed by Team Marine Inshore Loutz and slipped back to fifth after the team made a quick gear case change. 

With 90 minutes of the race to run, Team Abu Dhabi 35 was back into sixth overall and fourth in S2 and hunting down New Star 1 for the final podium place with eight laps between the two boats. The New Star boat featured Carella’s former Qatar F1 team-mate and current Victory Team driver Shaun Torrente working alongside the Russian trio of Roman Vandyshev, Mikhael Kitashev and Konstantin Ustinov.

Heading into the last hour, Team Abu Dhabi 35 trailed New Star 1 by just five laps and the margin was down to four with 23 minutes remaining, but there wasn’t quite enough time to catch the Russian entry and the Emirati team reached the chequered flag in fourth position in S2.

24 Hours of Rouen - Class S2 results (unofficial @ 16.05hrs):

1. Team Privilege 25                                                        766 laps

2. New Star 2 22                                                           703 laps

3. New Star 1 20                                                           682 laps

4. Team Abu Dhabi 35                                                              678 laps

5. Team Marine Inshore Loutz 28                           651 laps 

6. Team Racing Force Evolution Inshore 23                628 laps

7. Xtrem Racing 26                                                           484 laps

8. Touax Pegase Racing Team 33                               432 laps

9. Navikart Racing 32                                                             356 laps

10. Team Abu Dhabi 36                                                              86 laps