Emma-Nellie Ortendahl makes her Team Abu Dhabi debut in next weekend’s Grand Prix of Kuwait with her sights set firmly on a fourth Ski Ladies GP1 title in the UIM-ABP Aquabike World Championship.
Sweden’s golden girl of aquabike racing teams up for the first time with reigning world freestyle champion Rashid Al Mulla, Runabout GP1 contender Rashed Al Tayer and Ski GP1 rider Salman Al Awadhi in the opening round of 2020 season.
Ortendahl, who has initially signed a 12-month contract with Team Abu Dhabi, but this is expected to develop into a long-term relationship.
“We want to give her the opportunity to win many more world titles, and the whole team is happy to have her on board to start the new season in Kuwait,” said Salem Al Remeithi, General Manager of Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC).
Ortendahl won all but one moto and Grand Prix last season and the 21-year-old tops the all-time rankings with ten Grand Prix wins and 19 podiums.
She expects a tough title defence however, with fellow Swede and 2019 runner-up Jonna Borgstrom, France’s third-placed Estelle Poret, Estonia’s Jasmiin Ypraus and Latvia’s 2018 champion, Krista Uzare, among her main challengers.
Despite slipping to tenth overall in Runabout GP1 last season after a series of mishaps, Al Tayer won the opening Grand Prix in Portugal and did enough to suggest he can be a serious challenger this time to France’s reigning champion, Jeremy Perez.
Al Awadhi also starts the new season looking to build on his ninth place overall in the 2019 Ski GP1 series, and both he and Al Tayer will be motivated by the presence of two world champions as team-mates.
There is no bigger pre-season favourite than Al Mulla, who has dominated the freestyle championship for the last two seasons and is aiming to stretch his winning run to 11 Grand Prix in Kuwait.
The Grand Prix of Kuwait begins on Thursday with practice and Pole Position.
Friday brings Moto 1 for Runabout and Freestyle and Motos 1 and 2 for Ski followed by Parallel Slalom and a Freestyle show in the evening.
Saturday morning sees a second free practice leading to the final Motos for all categories.