Despite umpteen attempts to win an Abu Dhabi GP in his home waters, Thani Al Qemzi, who now rates as a veteran by F1 standards, finally made UAE history after 18 attempts to secure full marks against seriously strong competition.
Any motorsport that relies on the engine power runs the risk of getting it wrong when it comes to predicting the winner. This could not have been better illustrated when Florida’s Team Abu Dhabi pilot Shaun Torrente was tipped as the man to beat at the start of the penultimate race of the 2018 F1 World Championship in Abu Dhabi and was ultimately scuppered by a sick motor resulting in him crossing the finish in 6th place. However, if Torrente did not win, there were two other Team Abu Dhabi drivers right behind him, and Swedish ace Erik Stark would certainly clinch the honour. However he retired early in the race with a dead engine which left 40 year old Thani Al Qemzi to secure Gold. For the Abi Dhabi city’s top brass this was the best result possible and they were overjoyed that their home-grown pilot had created a little piece of ADIMC history.
Behind Thani a few surprises were in store as Peter Morin of CTIC China team collected the Silver medal ahead of a rejuvenated Mad Croc in the shape of Sami Selio. It was widely anticipated that Norway’s Marit Stromoy would occupy a podium place this weekend, but she missed out on the Bronze award by the narrowest of margins.
Peter Morin – Silver medal
Like Selio, Italy’s Blaze Team’s Francesco Cantando was enjoying a great race as he chased Marit home to fill 5th place. Shaun Torrente was struggling as his hopes of a victory in this race were long gone, and the American had to settle for 6th place behind Cantando although he still leads the points table ahead of Al Qemzi by 3 points. Poland’s Bart Marszalek, now in Emirate Racing colours, filled 7th place while the normally ultra-reliable Frenchman Philippe Chiappe of CTIC China was way down the pecking order in 8th place.
Dubai’s Victory team were suffering an abysmal Abu Dhabi event. Ahmed Al Hameli, a native of the host city, missed the grand prix completely after he barrel-rolled during qualifying and he was rushed to hospital for observation. Team mate and 4 time world champion Alex Carella retired on lap 34 leaving the Dubai outfit pointless. Likewise Team Sweden’s Jonas Andersson and Erik Edin both succumbed to technical issues.
However, nothing could take away the glory of Thani Al Qemzi’s success, and it’s now down to how the Abu Dhabi trio perform in the grand finale in Sharjah. There is no doubt that the World title will be presented to either Al Qemzi, Torrente or Stark. Obviously, success for Al Qemzi would be the preferred choice of the large Arab support club, but the name Abu Dhabi will be engraved on the world championship trophy regardless.
2018 UIM F1 H2O WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP – STANDINGS AFTER ROUND 6
1. Shaun Torrente (UAE) – Team Abu Dhabi – 77pts
2. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) – Team Abu Dhabi – 74pts
3. Erik Stark (UAE) – Team Abu Dhabi – 65pts
4. Peter Morin (FRA) – CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team – 54pts
5. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) – CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team – 37pts
6. Marit Strømøy (NOR) – Emirates Racing Team – 35pts
7. Sami Selio (FIN) – Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team – 19pts
8. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) – Victory Team – 18pts
8. Erik Edin (SWE) – Team Sweden/Team Amaravati – 18pts
10. Francesco Cantando (ITA) – Blaze F1 Team – 17pts
11. Jonas Andersson (SWE) – Team Sweden/Team Amaravati – 14pts
12. Alex Carella (ITA) – Victory Team – 9pts
13. Bartek Marszalak (POL) – Emirates Racing Team – 8pts
14. Grant Trask (AUS) – F1 Atlantic Team – 5pts
14. Duarte Benavente (PRT) – F1 Atlantic Team – 5pts
14. Filip Roms (FIN) – Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team – 5pts
14. Cédric Deguisne (FRA) – Maverick F1 Team – 5pts
18. Simone Schuft (DEU) – Blaze F1 Team – 2pts
19. Sutthipan Sookbuangbon (THI) – Maverick F1 Team – 1pt
SHARJAH ROUND 7 – TIMETABLE OF EVENTS
Thursday, December 13
09.00-10.20 – F4 free practice
09.30-09.50 – F4 time trials
10.15-11.15 – Extra F1 free practice
13.00-14.00 – F1 free practice
14.30-14.50 – F4 race 1
15.30-16.30 – BRM Qualifying
Saturday, December 15
09.10-09.30 – F4 free practice
09.40-10.00 – F4 time trials
10.15-11.15 – F1 free practice
14.30-14/50 – F4 race 2
16.00-17.00 – Grand Prix of Sharjah