Although next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will go down in the history books as the first-time a round of the UIM F2 World Championship has taken place there, it certainly isn’t the first time several of those taking part have raced in the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Twenty years ago, the now Tonsberg Batrace Project Manager Frode Sundsdal joined the Texaco Havoline Racing Team competing in Abu Dhabi.
Sprint Racing team owner Carlos Maidana said:
Frode was driving my ex Scott Gillman Seebold hull.
Unfortunately, it was the last time we saw that boat race in the World Championship.
As to my thoughts at that time, probably not printable, but the team remembers how he was hyping himself up on the red bull’s.
Maybe that was one occasion that Red Bull really does give you wings, because he just took off in a cloud of spray!
It was my first race in Abu Dhabi, and it was a special one.
Racing for my friend, Carlos and I’m sure we had Gordon Southerland looking after the raceboat.
We struggled a lot through ‘Free Practice’ and ‘Qualifying’, but for the last practice the boat ran really well.
I got an excellent start then coming into the first corner in a good position, only to “run” over Goran Karlof in a spectacular accident.
As he was on the outside, I still blame him for the accident, of course as a racer you always blame the other racer involved.
As everyone knows there are always two sides to a crash so to exactly what happened just moments after the start lights went out, well it’s best to catch up with who Sundsdal tangled with on the opening lap.
Maidana told me:
Wow, yes if my memory is correct Frode crashed into me at the first turn.
I think he ran into the steering arm at the back of my engine.
Neither of us could continue which was a such a shame. Of course, it was his fault!
No just joking, it was a typical racing incident with too many boats and too little water.
Overall though he was and is a truly motivated guy and I’ll be following his efforts over the weekend.
Since it marks my 20th anniversary I have invited maybe sixty people to come and watch the race.
Let’s hope he makes it a little further this time.
Back in 2004 the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club hosted the sixth round of the Boat GP World Championship.
Amongst the twenty-six drivers racing the F2000 class that weekend were Uvis Slakteris and Owen Jelf.
Although pole position man Ivan Brigada crossed the finish line in first place, he was later penalised a lap for not maintaining his racing position under a yellow flag situation.
This effectively handed Jelf victory and third overall in the series.
Also racing that day was the now UIM F2 Race Director Pelle Larsson, who has fond memories of the event:
It’s a very nice course but although it looks easy to set up your boat for it also can be a bit tricky in places.
You need to have your wits about you at all times and if you do make an unfortunate error then at least the water is warm.
For the moment the circuit in Abu Dhabi is the only one where I have actually raced on, maybe next season we can add Riga and Dubna to the list.
Slightly more up to date are some of the drivers who have raced F4S around the Abu Dhabi course including Ferdinand Zandbergen when he made his powerboat racing debut back in 2015.
On that occasion he beat the reigning UIM F2 World Champion Rashed Al Qemzi by just a point to secure third place overall that weekend.
The young driver from the Netherlands will be hoping to repeat that performance once again and his mentor, Sami Selio knows a thing or two about being competitive around the tricky course.
For sure I can help him fine tune the boat for this circuit.
Before that though we will be testing in Sharjah because it’s been a long time since Portugal and seat time is the key to success.