Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qemzi delivered a polished and professional performance to finish fourth and clinch the UIM F2 World Championship title in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portugal on the Douro River.
The Emirati, started the race from ninth place and gradually moved up the leader board to ensure that he secured enough points to deprive Swedish rival Pierre Lundin of the opportunity to make a late bid for the title. Lundin shadowed local driver and pole position winner Duarte Benavente from the start to the chequered flag, but second place was not enough to deprive a delighted Al-Qemzi of his second world title in two seasons – the Emirati won last year’s UIM F4-S Trophy.
“This is a special day for me and everyone within Team Abu Dhabi,“ said Al-Qemzi. “This title is for everyone who has supported me and to the whole team for all their efforts this season. I knew what I had to do. Losing Q3 because of the wind did not help at all, but I managed my race well and we have been rewarded with the World Championship.”
Italy’s Alberto Comparato, son of Fabio Comparato, finished third on the day and Frenchman Nelson Morin was fifth and managed to finish third in the championship standings.
GP of Portugal – THE RACE
In calm conditions, Duarte Benavente led the way at the start from Lundin, Ferdinand Zandbergen and Morin, with Al-Qemzi down in ninth and needing to push his way through the field to prevent Lundin from snatching his 3rd F2 title in the 45-lap race.
Duarte Benavente wins home Grand Prix
Al-Qemzi made a good start and was able to move up to sixth on the opening lap as Benavente and Lundin held on to first and second places. But the yellow flag was raised at the start of lap three after Tobias Munthe-Kaas stopped on the course. Racing resumed on lap six and Benavente continued to hold the lead from Lundin and Zandbergen, as Al-Qemzi climbed to fifth after briefly slipping to seventh. The Emirati remained on course for the world title and held his position throughout the next few laps behind Benavente, Lundin, Zandbergen and Comparato.
The top 10 held station through 19 laps and Team Abu Dhabi began the agonising countdown of the laps to the chequered flag. If the positions had remained like this Lundin would have earned 15 points, Al-Qemzi’s seven and the Emirati would have won the title by five points. But the Emirati continued to press on and managed to snatch fourth place at the expense of Zandbergen heading into lap 27.
By two-thirds distance, after 30 laps, Benavente led Lundin by just 2.16 seconds and, despite constant pressure from Lundin, the veteran Portuguese racer held on to seal an historic win on home waters by just 1.75 seconds. Comparato rounded off the podium and Al-Qemzi reached the finish in fourth to claim the world title.
UIM F2 World Championship – Final Positions (unofficial):
1. Rashed Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi – 41pts
2. Pierre Lundin (SWE) Lundin F1 Racing – 35pts
3. Nelson Morin (FRA) F1 China CTIC Team – 23pts
4. Duarte Benavente (POR) Atlantic Team – 20pts
5. Ola Pettersson (SWE) Skåne Racing Team F2 – 16pts
6. Johan Österberg (SWE) Team AJO – 15pts
6. Konstantin Ustinov (RUS) New Star – 15pts
6. Edgaras Riabko (LIT) F2 Lithuania – 15pts
9. Alberto Comparato (ITA) Comporato F2 – 12pts
10. Oskar Samuelsson (SWE) OS Racing – 11pts