Rashed faces anxious wait to start F2 title chase - GulfToday

Rashed faces anxious wait to start F2 title chase

Team  Abu Dhabi

Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al Qemzi in action during the free practice ahead of the Grand Prix of Lithuania.

Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al Qemzi faces an anxious wait overnight before launching his bid for a third UIM F2 world championship title in Tuesday’s Grand Prix of Lithuania.

Qemzi looked in brilliant form as he dominated free practice in Kupiškis, but then unluckily went out of the first of three qualifying sessions following a collison with Swede Johan Österberg.

The 2017 and 2019 F2 world champion was unhurt, but must now count on the Team Abu Dhabi technicians working flat out to repair his boat in time for the Emirati to start the opening race of the season tomorrow.

While a day that had started so brightly for the 2017 and 2019 world champion ended in disappointment, team-mate Mansoor Al Mansoori qualified in fifth place on his Team Abu Dhabi debut.

Seventh fastest in free practice, he shrugged off the shock of seeing Al Qemzi’s early departure from qualifying to set the second fastest time behind Norway’s Tobias Munthe-Kaas in the opening session.

Third quickest behind Swede Daniel Segenmark in session two, Al Mansoori will now hope to start his first Grand Prix in Team Abu Dhabi colours alongside Qemzi, the driver he succeeded as F4-S world champion in 2017.

Qemzi was completely blameless for the crash in qualifying, and race officials were examining video footage of the incident before deciding whether Österberg was at fault.

“I’m not sure what caused the accident, but now my hope is that I’ll be able to start the race tomorrow,” said Qemzi, who won in Lithuania on his way to both his world titles.

A late surge in the final qualifying session saw Lithuania’s Edgaras Riabko claim pole position ahead of Team Sharjah’s Dutch driver Ferdinand Zandbergen and Portugal’s reigning world champion Duarte Benavente.

Meanwhile, Tobias Munthe-Kaas missed competing for the 2020 UIM F2 World Championship due to the global health crisis, however, he and his team are ready for the first round of the 2021 series.

The Norwegian said: “Since December 2019, we have not had the opportunity to travel abroad to race, so it is a relief to finally be able to do what we want most of all, namely to meet friends from all over the world and compete.

“This has been a part of my life for the last 20 years and I have missed the racing due to the health situation,” he added.

Munthe-Kaas has managed to race domestically, last year he took a podium place in offshore Class 3C, competed in F2 in Tonsberg and only last week was runner-up in the Norwegian national ThunderCat championship.

The ThunderCat race was a great start to our season, it was a well organised event with a good atmosphere and there was very good coverage of our sport on national television.

Munthe-Kaas’ F2 boat and equipment have already arrived in Kupiskis, and the team will fly in to Lithuania tomorrow.

He concluded on an up-beat note: “The last time we participated in the world championship, we proved to everyone that we are to be reckoned with at the top.

Since then, we have made several upgrades to the equipment, so it will be very exciting to compete against the world’s best again.”

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