Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qemzi secured a vital podium finish in an enthralling 45-lap EDH Tønsberg Båtrace, round three of the 2017 UIM F2 World Championship, in Norway on Sunday afternoon.
The driver running out of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) came into the weekend’s racing with a championship lead of five points and was able to extend that to an unofficial 12 points with a fine third overall in a race that was won by Sweden’s defending champion Pierre Lundin after he overtook the Russian New Star driver Konstantin Ustinov with just two laps remaining.
Sweden’s Erik Edin led from start-to-finish through two yellow flags, but was docked one lap for a jump-start and slipped out of the top 10. Fellow Swede Ola Pettersson finished fourth and Frenchman Nelson Morin rounded off the top five. Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi finished eighth in the Repocharge race and missed out on the main EDH Tønsberg Båtrace.
“This was another high quality field and a very difficult race but Rashed again delivered a superb performance,” said Salem Al-Remeithi. “A podium finish at this tricky venue is an excellent result for the team and gives Rashed an even stronger platform on which to continue his UIM F2 World Championship challenge into the remaining races.”
EDH Tønsberg Båtrace
The fastest four drivers in Sunday’s Repocharge race were permitted to join the quickest 10 from qualifying in the main race. Edgaras Riabko won the Repocharge to take his place in the Grand Prix alongside David Del Pin, Alberto Comparato and Owen Jelf. Al-Mehairbi finished eighth and missed out on the main race, where Tobias Munthe-Kaas lined up on the start pontoon ahead of Lundin and Al-Qemzi.
Edin jumped the start from fourth place, as the leaders safely negotiated the first turn and Al-Qemzi moved into second place, Munthe-Kaas slipped from pole to sixth and Bisterfeld survived a spin. Edin continued to pull away from Al-Qemzi, Lundin, Rupert Temper and Ustinov, but the threat of a one-lap penalty loomed over the Swede as he began lap four. The leading drivers held station until a yellow flag was raised following a sixth lap accident involving Temper. Edin was indeed docked a lap and Al-Qemzi inherited the lead from Lundin under the yellow flag.
Racing resumed on lap 12 and Lundin began to pressurise Al-Qemzi over the next two laps until the Swede slipped behind Ustinov and into third place heading into lap 16. Ola Pettersson and Munthe-Kaas rounded off the top five. The yellow flag was raised again on lap 18 when pole winner Munthe-Kaas flipped over and retired the only Norwegian boat in the final.
Fourteen boats remained in action and racing restarted with 23 of the 45 laps remaining. Ustinov managed to pass Al-Qemzi and take the lead at the restart and the Emirati was also overtaken by Lundin and slipped to third. New Star’s Ustinov led from Lundin, Al-Qemzi, Pettersson and Nelson Morin with 15 laps remaining, although Lundin stayed on the Russian’s rooster tail through the next few laps, as Al-Qemzi began to lose ground on the leading duo.
Ustinov led Lundin by 1.4 seconds with five laps remaining but was passed by Lundin with two laps left, as Al-Qemzi held on to snatch third and the final place on the podium to extend his lead in the UIM F2 World Championship.
Speed Run and Match Race
On Friday evening, the top 16 drivers took part in a Speed Run and a Match Race in bright and breezy conditions. Eventual winner David Del Pin was the man to beat amongst the early runners with a time of 181.3km/h, followed by Héctor López’s speed of 180.3km/h. Al-Qemzi and Al-Mehairbi carded speeds of 177.8 and 172.1km/h, respectively, but Matthew Palfreyman was forced to miss the evening’s session after his boat was damaged in testing last week.
Al-Mehairbi made a bad start in his first Match Race heat against Ustinov and was eliminated. Al-Qemzi missed out in his heat against Erik Edin, as the Swede joined Lundin, Del Pin, Frode Sundsdal, Temper, Edgaras Riabko, Ustinov and rookie Lopez in the last eight. Lundin, Sundsdal, Riabko and Edin then made it through to the semi-finals.
Lundin got the better of Sundsdal in the first of the semis and was joined in an all-Swedish final by Edin after a tense run-off with Riabko. The Lithuanian also won the third-placed run-off heat to clinch the final spot on the podium before Lundin clinched victory over Edin in a thrilling Match Race final.
Practice and qualifying
Tobias Munthe-Kaas and Lundin were the only two drivers to break the 45-second barrier in the free practice session on Saturday morning, the Norwegian topping the times in heavy rain with a lap of 44.66sec. Al-Qemzi was an impressive third quickest in 45.09sec and Al-Mehairbi ran for 21 laps and was 23rd of the 24 starters.
Qualifying was planned for three sessions on Saturday evening, but bad weather and poor visibility put a spanner in those arrangements and Q1 was delayed by two hours. Drivers were eventually split into two groups of 12 and Al-Qemzi was comfortably the quickest in the first 20-minute Group A session from Ustinov, Munthe-Kaas, Lundin and Nick Bisterfeld.
Palfreyman lost a propeller on lap one and this prevented the Briton from posting a time in a Group B session that was won by Edin with a lap of 42.99sec from Temper, Riabko, Del Pin and Alberto Comparato. Al-Mehairbi missed out on Q2 with a fastest lap of 47.11sec that put him in 10th position.
The fastest 11 boats (Oskar Samuelsson missed the Q2 session) then lined up in a setting sun for Q2 and only six would be permitted into a six-boat Q3 shoot-out in fading light. Lundin hit the front with an early lap of 41.73sec from Edin, Munthe-Kaas, Al-Qemzi, Bisterfeld and Ola Pettersson, but the session was yellow-flagged when López spun out after six minutes after an incident involving Konstantin Ustinov.
Racing resumed with four minutes remaining, but Lundin held on to claim the fastest lap, as the leading six drivers held station. The shoot-out was postponed until Sunday lunchtime on safety grounds with Lundin, Edin, Munthe-Kaas, Al-Qemzi, Bisterfeld and Pettersson making it through.
In calmer conditions on Sunday, Pettersson used his Q3 warm-up lap and then laid down the gauntlet with a time of 41.30sec before Bisterfeld missed out with a second lap of 42.62sec. Munthe-Kaas moved into provisional pole with an opening lap of 40.36sec and then improved with a target of 40.05sec on his second tour of the course.
Al-Qemzi opened with a 40.64sec and a second lap of 40.17sec put the Team Abu Dhabi driver into a provisional second place. Edin carded a 40.49sec opener and could not improve on his second tour. This left the door open for Lundin begin with a 40.14sec lap, but a 40.11sec second tour meant that Munthe-Kaas claimed pole position for the host nation, with Lundin in second and Al-Qemzi in third.
Action resumes in the UIM F2 World Championship calendar with the European Championship event at Kupiškis in Lithuania on August 19-20.
2017 Tønsberg Båtrace – final result:
1. Pierre Lundin (SWE) Lundin F1 Racing – 43min 25.79sec
2. Konstantin Ustinov (RUS) New Star – 43min 28.36sec
3. Rashed Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi – 43min 33.32sec
4. Ola Pettersson (SWE) Skåne Racing Team F2 – 43min 36.07sec
5. Nelson Morin (FRA) F1 China CTIC Team – 43min 39.48sec
6. Daniel Segenmark (SWE) SF2R – 44min 02.14sec
7. Oskar Samuelsson (SWE) OS Racing – 44min 05.61sec
8. Alberto Comparato (ITA) Comparato F2 – 44min 07.86sec
9. Nick Bisterfeld (DEU) Bisterfeld Racing – 44min 09.89sec
10. Edgaras Riabko (LIT) F2 Lithuania – 44min 12.45sec
UIM F2 World Championship – positions after round 3:
1. Rashed Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi – 32pts
2. Pierre Lundin (SWE) Lundin F1 Racing – 20pts
3. Nelson Morin (FRA) F1 China CTIC Team – 16pts
4. Johan Österberg (SWE) Team AJO – 15pts
4. Konstantin Ustinov (RUS) New Star – 15pts
6. Ola Pettersson (SWE) Skåne Racing Team F2 – 13pts
6. Edgaras Riabko (LIT) F2 Lithuania – 13pts
Photo: Chris Davies