Team Abu Dhabi star leads from start to finish to boost F2 championship hopes
Ribadouro, Portugal: Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al Qemzi secured a convincing victory in the Grand Prix of Portugal today to move within reach of a third UIM F2 world championship title.
The 2017 and 2019 F2 champion led from start to finish to record his third career win at Ribadouro after another day of high winds led to delays and difficult conditions on the Douro river race course.
Al Qemzi, who had claimed pole position 24 hours earlier, can secure the world crown again with another win in next weekend’s final round at Vila Velha de Ródão.
The Emirati won the first of the two back-to-back 40-lap races making up this year’s decisive Grand Prix of Portugal by shrugging off a strong challenge from home favourite Duarte Benavente
His winning margin over Benavente was 2.336 seconds, but more significantly was the fact that he closed to within two points of championship leader Edgaras Riabko, who finished fourth today after winning the opening round in his native Lithuania.
With Sweden’s Bimba Sjöholm claiming the third podium position on the day, Team Abu Dhabi’s Mansoor Al Mansoor produced an impressive display to take fifth place after starting 11th on the grid.
The shortened 2021 powerboat racing season has already seen Team Abu Dhabi clinch one major
title and take a firm grip on another world championship series.
Al Qemzi and Al Mansoori combined with veteran driver Thani Al Qemzi to deliver a second successive UIM World Endurance crown to Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club in July, with victory in Augustów, Poland.
The prize wanted most by Thani Al Qemzi, however, is the UIM F1H2O world title, something which has so far eluded since he made his debut in the flagship single-seater inshore circuit racing series 21 years ago.
He was runner up in 2009 to Guido Cappellini, Italy’s ten-times former F1H2O world champion and current Abu Dhabi team manager, and has also finished third on five occasions.
But the Emirati made a perfect start to the 2021 season with victory in last month’s Grand Prix of Europe in Italy, beating team-mate and reigning world champion Shaun Torrente into second place.
The one-two triumph in San Nazzaro highlighted Team Abu Dhabi’s dominance of the F1H2O series in recent years, with a fourth successive team title now within their grasp.
Torrente, meanwhile, has another target in his sights as he combines with Faleh Al Mansoori looking to recapture the UIM XCAT World Championship at the Fujairah Grand Prix from 29 November to 4 December.