Team Abu Dhabi target quadruple win as Qemzi set for new title charge - GulfToday

Team Abu Dhabi target quadruple win as Qemzi set for new title charge

Team Abu Dhabi

Under the guidance of Guido Cappellini (left), Rashed Al Qemzi tries for a third UIM F2 triumph in five years.

Team Abu Dhabi’s bid to recapture four world powerboat racing titles gets under way in Lithuania next week as Rashed Al Qemzi launches his challenge for a third UIM F2 triumph in five years.

It will be Qemzi’s first taste of world championship action since he rounded off a triumphant 2019 F2 campaign with victory on home waters in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 18 months ago.

Prevented from defending his world title last year by the pandemic, the Emirati driver is raring to go again after an extensive testing programme in the UAE capital alongside new team-mate, Mansoor Al Mansoori.

After succeeding Qemzi as F4-S world champion in 2017, Mansoori scored two top ten finishes in the 2019 F2 series.

The duo are doing further testing on Lake Maggiore in San Nazzaro, Italy this week under the guidance of Team Abu Dhabi manager, Guido Cappellini, with the full backing of Abu Dhabi Sports Council.

Victorious in Lithuania two years ago, Qemzi retains his 2019 boat for the opening round in Kupiskis while Mansoori has a new boat for the 2021 series.

Cappellini, who has delivered 11 world titles to Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club, is again pursuing a quadruple target after claiming the F1H2O drivers’ and team world crowns in 2019 along with the world endurance and F2 championships.

Qemzi dominated the 2019 F2 series, following up his Lithuanian success with victories in Italy and Portugal to clinch the title with one round to spare.

“We have had a good month of testing in Abu Dhabi and we’re ready,” he said, “The important thing is to look at conditions when we get there, prepare well and pick the right prop.”

A 21-strong entry list in Kupiskis is headed by defending world champion, Duarte Benavente, and includes home favourite Edgaras Riabko, who finished runner-up to the Portuguese driver in last year’s race. The event is being held on a Lithuanian national holiday, with Sunday’s practice being followed by the pole position qualifier on Monday and the Grand Prix on Tuesday.

Kupiskis was last used as a venue for UIM F2 racing in 2017 when Erik Edin won the European Championship over four heats.

Benavente who was crowned UIM F2 2020 World Champion last September in Vila Velha de Rodao, will be defending his title against drivers from an impressive entry list.

The Portuguese driver won from pole position and looked absolutely dominant in his Mercury powered Moore hull.

Riabko finished 26.609 seconds behind him and the 15 points for second place were good enough for the Lithuanian to take the UIM Silver Medal.

In third was Owen Jelf. He was relentlessly pursued by Sami Selio throughout the race and the British and Finnish drivers even had a coming together in the final stages.

Jelf soaked up the massive pressure and in the process claimed a UIM Bronze Medal.

The UIM F2 World Championship has five races pencilled in for 2021, with two venues in both Portugal and Lithuania and one in Italy.

Paulo Ferreira, the president of the Portuguese Powerboat Federation has once again supported the series and Vila Velha de Rodao and Ribadouro will play host to the first two rounds of the world championship.

Racer and head honcho of the Lithuanian Federation, Edgaras Riabko, will be organising the final two races in Kaunus and Zarasai and there is a popular return to Brindisi, Italy for the third round in July.

The Vila Velha de Rodao race will be competed for over the weekend of Sept.18-19 and the season finale will now be staged in Ribadouro a week later. The first round of the 2021 championship will now be hosted by the Lietuvos Motorlaivių Federacija where their president, Riabko, will be organising a race in Kupiskis.

Of course, dates and venues are still subject to change due to the ongoing global health crisis.

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