Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente, Thani Al-Qemzi and Erik Stark will be locked in a three-way fight to decide the outcome of a pulsating UIM F1 H2O World Championship on Khalid Lagoon this weekend.
Torrente heads into Saturday’s final showdown with a three-point advantage over last weekend’s Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi winner Al-Qemzi, while engine issues last time out have pushed Stark down to third place and 12 points adrift the series leader.
If either Torrente or Al-Qemzi win the race on the revised course they will be World Champion for the first time.
Should they falter and Stark finish second or higher, the Swede would be crowned World Champion.
But the mathematical permutations continue: should another driver win, then Torrente would need to beat Al-Qemzi to win the championship and Al-Qemzi would need to finish four points in front of the American to reverse the scenario.
Al-Qemzi has an impressive record on Khalid Lagoon, however. The Emirati won here in 2006, 2008 and 2012 and has been on the podium five times in eight seasons.
Torrente won here in 2016, when he finished as the series runner-up to Philippe Chiappe, and appears relaxed and composed ahead of the biggest race of his life.
A determined Al-Qemzi said:
I feel normal, I am ready for Sharjah.
I win here three times before and I will try my best again.
The start for me is no problem.
I start behind on the last race and I managed to win.
I will try and get the pole position and push. I will not take notice of any instructions.
I want to win this race. Erik (Stark) has to push very hard to get some points.
Don’t worry Shaun (Torrente), I have the secret for the start!
As a team we have achieved all of our goals, including winning the World Championships for Teams and Drivers.
That said, my season has also exceeded my expectations.
I have had three wins and three poles and I lead the Drivers’ Championship with one to go.
Obviously I want to win the title but, if Thani wins it, I would be devastated if I didn’t win but to see him win would be good. He has done a great job as well.
I guess it’s winner-take-all for me and Thani, but there are so many other scenarios.
I love Sharjah.
I came here with the mindset that when you get here all the cards have been played.
It’s a one-race deal.
You don’t have to worry about the next race.
I can just race free and have a good time.
I wanted a better finish in Abu Dhabi, but that’s the way it goes. Abu Dhabi was a big deal for me.
In the past, when situations weren’t going my way, I would press and turn a rough day into a really bad day and get no points or crash and not finish.
I realised when the motor didn’t fire off the beach, it wasn’t my day. I salvaged what I could without taking any risks, knowing we had one more to go.
We all want pole position to give us the best shot at winning the race.
I am going to try like hell to get that. You don’t get any points for pole position though.
Erik went to bed last Friday night thinking he may be leading the World Championship tomorrow.
Now he’s 12 points behind and in a worse position than before.
Erik has the least to lose, he can just go for it.
He’s in third anyway, but there other drivers with Marit and Sami who are doing really well.
Most of the season’s work has been done, now we just need to finish off the job!
Time will tell which one of the three Team Abu Dhabi drivers will take the host Emirate’s motto of ‘Smile – You are in Sharjah’ to heart on Saturday afternoon.
Seventeen drivers are expected to line-up at the start of the season finale, with Victory Team’s Ahmed Al-Hameli still recuperating from his spectacular coming together with Peter Morin last weekend.
That said, Marit Strømøy of the Emirates Racing Team has hit a rich vein of form – qualifying second for the last two races – and Morin was impressive in Abu Dhabi for the CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team.
Finland’s double World Champion, Sami Selio, of the Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team claimed a first podium of the season last weekend, while outgoing four-time champion Alex Carella would love to end the season on a high note for the Victory Team.
The list of party-spoilers goes on and three-time champion Chiappe, Italy’s Francesco Cantando Poland’s Bartek Marszalek and Team Amaravati’s duo of Jonas Andersson and Erik Edin are capable of reaching Q3 and staying amongst the pack for the duration of what promises to be a thrilling race.
The timetable has been modified this weekend because of the UIM-ABP World Aquabike Championship. Thursday’s timetable (see below) features the BRM Qualifying which takes centre stage from 15.30hrs.
Friday is a rest day for the F1 H2O teams and then the rumble of Mercury engines will be heard for further practice on Saturday morning. This precedes the second of the F4 Trophy races at 14.30hrs and the 19th Grand Prix of Sharjah roars into life at 16.00hrs.
Timetable of events
Thursday, December 13
10.15-11.15 Extra F1 free practice
13.00-14.00 F1 free practice
15.30-16.30 BRM Qualifying
Saturday, December 15
10.15-11.15 F1 free practice
16.00-17.00 Grand Prix of Sharjah
2018 UIM F1 H2O World Championship – standings after round 6:
1. Shaun Torrente (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 77pts
2. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 74pts
3. Erik Stark (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 65pts
4. Peter Morin (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 54pts
5. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 37pts
6. Marit Strømøy (NOR) Emirates Racing Team 35pts
7. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 19pts
8. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team 18pts
8. Erik Edin (SWE) Team Sweden/Team Amaravati 18pts
10. Francesco Cantando (ITA) Blaze F1 Team 17pts
11. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden/Team Amaravati 14pts
12. Alex Carella (ITA) Victory Team 9pts
13. Bartek Marszalak (POL) Emirates Racing Team 8pts
14. Grant Trask (AUS) F1 Atlantic Team 5pts
14. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team 5pts
14. Filip Roms (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 5pts
14. Cédric Deguisne (FRA) Maverick F1 Team 5pts
18. Simone Schuft (DEU) Blaze F1 Team 2pts
19. Sutthipan Sookbuangbon (THI) Maverick F1 Team 1pt