KAUNAS (LITHUANIA): Saturday, May 26: Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qemzi began the defence of his UIM F2 World Championship title by finishing in fourth place in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Lithuania on Kaunas Reservoir.
Team Abu Dhabi colleague Rashed Al-Tayer held fifth through the opening 16 laps before withdrawing with boat damage following an accident, but the race win fell to pole sitter Alberto Comparato, who survived yellow flag stoppages to lead the 38-lap sprint from start-to-finish. Local hero Edgaras Riabko managed to pass Germany’s Stefan Hagin in the closing stages to snatch second overall for Lithuania and Norway’s Tobias Munthe-Kaas shadowed Al-Qemzi to the finish to round off the top five.
GP OF LITHUANIA
The slightly delayed race was scheduled for 38 laps in baking heat and ideal conditions and 20 boats lined up on the start pontoon with Ola Pettersson replacing Mansoor Al-Mansoori. Alberto Comparato started from pole and Al-Qemzi and Al-Tayer lined up in fifth and sixth.
Both Team Abu Dhabi boats made a superb start, as Philippe Tourre stuttered off the pontoon at the rear of the field and Comparato maintained his lead from Hagin and Riabko. Both Al-Qemzi and Al-Tayer passed Tobias Munthe-Kaas and moved up to fourth and fifth, but Ferdinand Zandbergen failed to start.
The race was yellow-flagged after three laps when Spaniard Héctor Sanz Lopez flipped out of contention. The Riba Roja d’Ebre driver had already climbed from 19th to 14th when he crashed. Action resumed and the top five held station through the subsequent few laps with Comparato running ahead of Hagin by a little over two seconds through 15 laps. Munthe-Kaas managed to overtake Al-Tayer and snatch fifth place on lap 16 but Al-Tayer leapt into the air and retired after losing the boat’s cowling.
After another brief yellow flag interruption, racing resumed again with Comparato leading from Hagin, Riabko, Al-Qemzi and Munthe-Kaas, but Riabko delighted his home fans by overtaking Hagin to snatch second place on lap 21. By lap 28, the gap between the leader and Riabko was 1.75 seconds with Hagin running in a close third and Al-Qemzi maintaining a distant fourth.
The procession continued through 33 laps and the top five held station to the chequered flag with Comparato claiming the win from Riabko by the margin of 3.47 seconds. Hagin finished third and Al-Qemzi was fourth.
The Repecharge race ran before the Grand Prix and gave drivers a last chance saloon to qualify. Owen Jelf and Uvis Slakteris were the early pacesetters among the 10 racers who participated, and the Briton ran out the winner with a best lap of 55.66sec. Jelf, Latvian Slakteris, Sweden’s Mette Bjerknaes, Héctor Sanz and Frenchman Philippe Tourre all qualified for the GP.
2017 GRAND PRIX OF LITHUANIA RESULT
1 – Alberto Comparato (ITA) – 38 laps
2 – Edgaras Riabko (LIT) – @3.47sec
3 – Stefan Hagin (DEU) – @4.91sec
4 – Rashed Al-Qemzi (UAE) – @19.03se
5 – Tobias Munthe-Kaas (NOR) – @21.10sec
6 – Brent Dillard (USA) – @21.81sec
7 – Daniel Segenmark (SWE – @27.16sec
8 – Duarte Benavente (PRT) – @31.97sec
9 – Oskar Samuelsson (SWE) – @44.85sec
10 – Mette Bjerknaes (SWE) – @48.47sec
11 – Frode Sundsdal (NOR) – @52.31sec
12 – Johan Österberg (SWE) – L1
13 – Owen Jelf (GBR) – L1
14 – Ola Pettersson (SWE) – L1
15 – Uvis Slakteris (LVA) – L1
16 – Philippe Tourre (FRA) – L2
Rashed Al-Tayer (UAE) – DNF
Bimba Sjöholm (SWE) – DNF
Héctor Sanz Lopez (ESP) – DNF
Ferdinand Zandbergen (DEU) – DNS