Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qemzi and Rashed Al-Tayer got to grips with qualifying for the Grand Prix of Denmark, the second round of the UIM F2 World Championship, and will start Sunday’s race on the seven-pin, 1.94km course on Aalborg’s Limfjord from pole and 10th positions.
Twenty-five boats took part in Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session held in overcast and slightly windy conditions. American Brent Dillard impressed with a flying qualifying lap of 49.72sec and that was matched to the fraction of a second by Norway’s Tobias Munthe-Kaas.
But Al-Qemzi was the last of the drivers out on the course and, having confirmed third place on his opening run, the defending UIM F2 World Champion stormed into pole position on his second run with a time of 49.25sec. Germany’s Stefan Hagin carded a time of 50.03sec to claim fourth position. Al-Tayer had been the first of the 10 Q3 runners on to the course and qualified in 10th with a time of 52.66sec.
Qualifying was split into three sessions and Q1 was also split into two stints, with 13 boats taking to the water in the first one. Comparato moved to the top of the early rankings with a lap of 53.57sec only for Hagin to card a 52.03sec lap to snatch the lead and Segenmark to move into second with a 52.87sec run. Kalle Viippo, Mansoor Al-Mansoori and Ola Pettersson were three of the drivers eliminated.
Both Rashed Al-Qemzi and Rashed Al-Tayer lined up in the second group and the defending champion started well with a quick lap of 53.90sec to snatch the lead. Al-Tayer carded a 56.16 to move into fifth place. Dillard moved up to second with a 54.69sec after 12 minutes of the stint and pushed Al-Tayer down to sixth place and Riabko clocked a 54.47sec as well to move into second, only to be displaced by Ustinov soon afterwards. Al-Tayer retained fifth with a quicker lap of 54.97sec.
Oskar Samuelsson only managed two laps and was eliminated along with the likes of Uvis Slakteris and Gavin Bricker, as Al-Qemzi won the session with his fastest lap of 53.47sec and Dillard moved into second late on with a 53.54sec tour.
A further four boats would be eliminated in Q2 to reduce the number to 10 for Q3. Dillard made his intent known from the outset and laid down the gauntlet with a 53.22sec lap to move in front of Al-Qemzi (53.59sec). But the Emirati stormed back with a 52.18sec flyer to snatch the advantage and book his place in Q3.
Owen Jelf started the session seven minutes late and Al-Tayer was struggling at the rear of the field in 14th and in need of a fast lap to move into the top 10. The Emirati responded superbly to set a time of 53.97sec and moved into sixth place but began to drop back again as his rivals carded quicker times. He finished the session in 10th position, as Alberto Comparato, Christian Carlsen, Bimba Sjöholm and Héctor Sanz were eliminated.
Al-Tayer was first to clock a lap in Q3 and the Team Abu Dhabi driver set the target lap of 52.66sec on his first run. Riabko responded with a best run of 50.94sec and Jelf recorded a best run of 51.90sec. Hagin was next on to the course and the German stormed into provisional pole with a best lap of 50.03sec. Dutchman Ferdinand Zandbergen could not match the German with his best lap of 51.12sec and Daniel Segenmark also fell short with a sole lap of 51.03sec.
Dillard was on another level, however, and the American snatched the lead with a flying opener of 49.72sec. Konstantin Ustinov’s best lap was his second run of 50.28sec. Tobias Munthe-Kaas clocked an opener of 50.15sec and then equalled Dillard with a 49.72. That paved the way for Al-Qemzi to draw the curtain on qualifying and the Emirati opened with a lap of 49.75sec to move into third position and stormed into pole position on iis last lap with a 49.25sec flyer.
There will be further warm-up laps available on Sunday morning, prior to a Repecharge race, and the Grand Prix of Denmark is scheduled for 13.15hrs, so as not to clash with the UIM F1 H20 Grand Prix of London.