F1 – TEAM ABU DHABI TRIO FIRM FAVOURITES AT HOME RACE THIS WEEKEND

With their three drivers filling the top places in the points table it would be easy to assume one of the Team Abu Dhabi trio will collect the 2018 Gold medal. However, anything can happen between the green lights and chequered flag in the penultimate Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

F1.ERIKSTARK35
Eric Stark

Shaun Torrente heads into Breakwater showdown with a seven-point lead over Stark as Team Abu Dhabi faces one of the most important and potentially lucrative races in its history when the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) hosts this weekend’s Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi, the penultimate round of the 2018 UIM F1 H2O World Championship.
The team has dominated this year’s championship thus far and team drivers Shaun Torrente, Erik Stark and Thani Al-Qemzi head into the weekend’s action holding the top three places in the Drivers’ Championship. Team Abu Dhabi has a massive 53-point advantage in the UIM Teams’ Championship and Stark leads Torrente by seven points in the Pole Position Championship.
Mathematically, all three titles could be sewn up on the challenging 1.973km race course at the Abu Dhabi Breakwater by Saturday afternoon, although it is more likely that Team Abu Dhabi will clinch the Teams’ series for the third time in four years and the outcome of both the Drivers’ and Pole titles will go down to the wire in Sharjah on December 15th.
A pair of 1-2-3 finishes and a 1-3 outcome in Amaravati last month has put the Emirati team that runs under the umbrella of the ADIMSC, board member and general manager Salem Al-Remeithi and team manager Guido Cappellini in a superb position. Team Abu Dhabi drivers have won all five rounds of the series so far this year and claimed 11 of the 15 available podium places. The team has been testing in the build up to a race where Torrente takes a seven-point lead over Stark into the weekend. An engine issue robbed Al-Qemzi of his chance to reach the podium in India, but the Emirati is determined to overcome the set back and reduce the 18 points by which he trails Torrente.
The Abu Dhabi driver needs to finish ahead of the American at the very least to keep his title hopes alive, while Stark will need to be at least fifth and collect at least eight points if Torrente wins the race at the Breakwater. More importantly, both Al-Qemzi and Stark will be hoping to push for the race win and take the outcome of the title battle to a thrilling conclusion at the final round.
The silverware is not just restricted to Team Abu Dhabi drivers, however, and a race win for fourth-placed Peter Morin of the CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team would keep the Frenchman in the hunt provided that Torrente didn’t finish inside the top five. Morin’s team-mate, three-time World Champion Philippe Chiappe, holds fifth in the title race and needs at least two race wins to stand any chance of winning the championship for a fourth time.

F1.MARIT.TROPHYEmirates Racing Team – Marit Stromoy

There are several drivers more than capable of springing a surprise and spoiling the Abu Dhabi party on home waters. Defending champion and four-time World Champion Alex Carella of the Victory Team and his team-mate Ahmed Al-Hameli are sure to be quick in qualifying and have the pace to stave off the Abu Dhabi onslaught. They have also been testing in the build up to the race.
Marit Strømøy of the Emirates Racing Team finished second in India last month and very nearly upstaged Torrente to claim pole position on the Krishna River, while Team Amaravati’s Jonas Andersson and Finland’s Sami Selio will be pushing hard. Nineteen drivers are expected to take the start of the weekend’s racing.
Series leader Torrente, who carried out some late testing this morning, said: “This is our home race. We have had such an amazing season and I guess everyone else wants to beat us here. It’s kind of everyone else’s Super Bowl. We have everything pretty well in hand. We are pretty close to the Teams’ Championship. We have to take care of business and get some points and we should be okay. The Drivers’ Championship, we can at least, if we all run well here, we can lock it out for the last race. That would be nice. There are no team orders. In fact, Thani and I were testing this morning and we were working on his lap and his line and trying to get his time where it needs to be. My main goal is to win the championship. It would be amazing for Thani to win this race at home. He has never done it. The team is working hard to help him try and accomplish that. The weather forecast looks good. We have been working here for two weeks and we’ve had some changeable weather. It’s been a bit windy. It’s calmed down in the last few days. You test everyday and yet you never feel completely prepared. You still want to try something. Our rivals have also been working very hard. Marit ran great in India. She’s a very good driver. Her boat is suited to this race course and she did well here last year. Victory has been working hard as well and we saw the improvement in their pace in India. We are not sleeping. We understand that to get on top is hard and to stay on top is even harder. We are all fighting for our first World Championship. We have great equipment and a great team. As much as I want to win for myself, I want to win for the guys at Team Abu Dhabi. They work real hard.”
After free practice on Thursday afternoon, teams will tackle BRM qualifying on Friday and the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi is scheduled for 15.30hrs on Saturday afternoon. (see weekend’s timetable below).
Spectators are welcome to attend at the Abu Dhabi Corniche free of charge from 14.00hrs each day over race weekend. The ADIMSC has laid on trade stalls, refreshments and catering stands, childrens’ and family activities and live entertainment to entertain the crowds between the races.
2018 UIM F1 H2O WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP – STANDINGS AFTER ROUND 5
1 – Shaun Torrente (UAE) – Team Abu Dhabi – 72pts
2 – Erik Stark (UAE) – Team Abu Dhabi – 65pts
3 – Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) – Team Abu Dhabi – 54pts
4 – Peter Morin (FRA) – CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team – 39pts
5 – Philippe Chiappe (FRA) – CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team – 34pts
6 – Marit Strømøy (NOR) – Emirates Racing Team – 26pts
7 – Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) – Victory Team – 18pts
7 – Erik Edin (SWE) – Team Sweden/Team Amaravati – 18pt
9 – Jonas Andersson (SWE) – Team Sweden/Team Amaravati – 14pts
10 – Francesco Cantando (ITA) – Blaze F1 Team – 10pts
11 – Alex Carella (ITA) – Victory Team – 9pts
12 – Sami Selio (FIN) – Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team – 7pts
13 – Grant Trask (AUS) – F1 Atlantic Team – 5pt
13 – Duarte Benavente (PRT) – F1 Atlantic Team – 5pts
15 – Bartek Marszalak (POL) – Emirates Racing Team – 4pts
15 – Filip Roms (FIN) – Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team – 4pts
16 – Cédric Deguisne (FRA) – Maverick F1 Team – 3pts
17 – Simone Schuft (DEU) – Blaze F1 Team – 2pts
18 – Sutthipan Sookbuangbon (THI) – Maverick F1 Team – 1pt               

2018 UIM F1 H2O POLE POSITION CHAMPIONSHIP – STANDINGS AFTER ROUND 5
1 – Erik Stark (SWE) – Team Abu Dhabi – 67pts
2 – Shaun Torrente (USA) – Team Abu Dhabi – 60pts
3 – Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) – Team Abu Dhabi – 45pts
4 – Philippe Chiappe (FRA) – CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team – 42pts
5 – Alex Carella (ITA) – Victory Team – 24pts
6 – Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) – Victory Team – 21pts
7 – Marit Strømøy (NOR) – Emirates Racing Team – 20pts
8 – Jonas Andersson (SWE) – Team Amaravati – 19pts
9 – Peter Morin (FRA) – CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team – 14pts
10 – Bartek Marszalak (POL) – Emirates Racing Team – 12pts
11 – Francesco Cantando (ITA) – Blaze F1 Team – 9pts
12 – Erik Edin (SWE) – Team Sweden/Team Amaravati – 7pts                                                      

TIMETABLE OF EVENTS
Thursday, December 6
08.00-15.00 – Technical scrutineering
15.00-17.00 – Extra free practice
 
Friday, December 7
09.10-09.30 – F4 free practice
09.40-10.00 – F4 time trials
10.15-11.15 – F1 free practice
14.00 – F4 race 1
15.30 – BRM F1 qualifying
 
Saturday, December 8
09.10-09.30 – F4 free practice
09.40-10.00 – F4 time trials
10.15-11.15 – F1 free practice
14.00 – F4 race 2
15.30 – Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi

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