Team Abu Dhabi star saves best for last to win shoot-out and take big advantage in Portugal
Vila Velha de Ródão, Portugal, 16 October, 2021: Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al Qemzi has a third UIM F2 world championship title within his grasp after claiming pole position in dramatic style for tomorrow’s final round of the series in Portugal.
The 2017 and 2019 F2 champion produced another scintillating display over the Tagus river course at Vila Velha de Ródão today to top qualifying for the second time in the space of eight days.
He goes into the concluding Grand Prix of Portugal trailing championship leader Edgaras Riabko by just two points, but now holding a big advantage over the Lithuanian who will start from 11th place on the grid.
It means that something less than victory could be enough to give Al Qemzi another F2 title to take back to Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club, although the Emirati will still be looking to round of the season with another win to make absolutely certain.
Team-mate Mansoor Al Mansoori qualified one place ahead of Riabko in 10th, and he will be looking for a repeat of his climb through the field in Ribadouro last weekend where he rose six places from the start to finish fifth.
Brimming with confidence after his win in Ribadouro, Al Qemzi saved best for last in the seven-boat final qualifying shoot-out to set a stunning fastest time ahead of Portugal’s 2020 F2 world champion Duarte Benavente.
The Team Abu Dhabi duo had both looked comfortable earlier on in the afternoon’s free practice session, with Al Qemzi cruising through it with the third fastest time, just ahead of Al Mansoori.
While Al Mansoori was then unable to reach the qualifying shoot out, Al Qemzi appeared to be going through with the fastest time before Sweden’s Bimba Sjöholm squeezed past him with a stunning final lap.
Sjöholm was briefly in control of pole position, but eventually slipped to fourth in the shoot-out behind Norway’s Tobias Munthe-Kaas, as Al Qemzi underlined his determination to secure another world title triumph.
2021 UIM F2 World Championship leading positions heading into final round
1. Edgaras Riabko (LTU) 29pts
2. Rashed Al Qemzi (UAE) 27pts
3. Duarte Benavente (POR) 18pts
4. Ferdinand Zandbergen (NED) 15pts
Rupp Temper (AUT) 15pts
6. Colin Jelf (GBR) 13pts
7. Bimba Sjöholm (SWE) 12pts
8. Tobias Munthe-Kaas (NOR) 10pts
9. Mansoor Al Mansoori (UAE) 7pts
10. Mette Bjerknæs (GBR) 5pts