Team Abu Dhabi have another double title triumph in their sights in the 2021 UIM F1H2O World Championship after a testing day in Portugal.
Thani Al Qemzi – eyeing a first F1H2O drivers’ crown
Defending world champion Shaun Torrente, currently lying second in the championship behind team-mate Thani Al Qemzi, was denied pole position for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Figueira Da Foz by a stunning lap from Jonas Andersson in today’s qualifying shoot out.
While Al Qemzi will start in ninth place after being blocked in the second qualifying session, the Emirati’s vast experience and ability to climb through the field can keep him on course for a first F1H2O drivers’ crown this weekend.
Chasing a third world championship himself, Torrente looked to be heading for another pole position success before Swede Andersson, the man he beat in dramatic style to clinch his second world title in 2019, produced what he described as the “fastest lap of my life”.
On a race course which left little room for manoeuvre, Al Qemzi was unable to get a clear run and set a time fast enough to reach the shoot-out.
He will, however, retain hopes of at least a podium finish tomorrow in the first of the two back-to-back races in the space of 48 hours which will decide the 2021 F1H2O series, and with Torrente looks on course for another world team title success.
Tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Figueira Da Foz will be followed by another qualifying series on Saturday for the Grand Prix of Portugal which concludes the championship on Sunday afternoon.
This is just the start of a dramatic sequence of powerboat racing for Team Abu Dhabi who are taking on seven Grand Prix races in the space of 16 days.
Immediately following Sunday’s second of the two races in less than 48 hours, Torrente’s attention will switch to the UIM XCAT World Championship where he and Emirati driver Faleh Al Mansoori are aiming to regain the title they won in 2018.
They face three Grand Prix races in four days at the Grand Prix of Fujairah starting on 1 December, followed by two more at the Grand Prix of Dubai on 10 and 11 December.
Already this season, Rashed Al Qemzi has delivered his third F2 title to Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club, while Team Abu Dhabi have won a second consecutive world endurance.
The ultimate target is to go one better than their four world title haul in 2019, and no achievement would mean more to the team than a maiden F1H2O individual triumph for veteran Emirati driver Thani Al Qemzi – cousin of Rashed – who made his debut in the series 21 years ago.