Team Abu Dhabi has entered its strongest ever team in a bid to win back the prestigious 24 Hours of Rouen endurance title it secured for the one and only time in 2016.
The experienced Emirati trio of Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi and Rashed Al-Tayer and American racer Shaun Torrente will line-up together in Team Abu Dhabi 6 in the competitive S2 class.
The 55th edition of the world famous 24-hour race on the River Seine in northern France starts at 10.00hrs on Monday morning (April 30) this year and finishes at 16.00hrs on Tuesday (May 1) after a customary mid-race interval.
Team Abu Dhabi carried out three days of testing in Italy this week, with the session finishing today (Wednesday), according to team manager Guido Cappellini.
Team Abu Dhabi entered a two-boat team for the previous two years and secured the S2 class victory in 2016, courtesy of Thani Al-Qemzi, Majed Al-Mansoori and the Italian duo of Alex Carella and Tullio Abbate in the team’s 35 boat.
Last year, Thani Al-Qemzi, Carella, Al-Tayer and Majed Al-Mansoori produced a stunning fight back from a spectacular crash involving Carella to finish fourth in the S2 class and sixth overall.
The all-French Team Nollet – which included triple UIM F1 H2O World Champion Philippe Chiappe, team-mate Peter Morin, Nelson Morin and Rodolphe Avenel – won the overall race.
Twenty-seven boats feature on the entry list for the 2018 race and 12 of those are in Class S2, including Team Abu Dhabi’s DAC and Chiappe’s Nollet–New Star 1 entry.
Other rivals include a strong all-Russian line-up in Nollet-New Star 20, a French quartet in Navikart Racing 32 and Team Privilege in a three-man French crew in a BaBa.
The likes of Sun Racing Team, Touax Pegase Racing Team, Team Racing Evolution, Xtrem Racing, Team Privilege and Club Motonautique Normand bolster a largely French-dominated category.
Salem Al-Remeithi, general manager of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) commented:
This is one of the most important races in the UIM calendar and one of the most famous of them all.
We have unfinished business in Rouen and, for that reason, we have entered a strong and experienced team in our bid to win back the title.
Shaun Torrente said:
I am really looking forward to Rouen.
It is such a unique race.
The strategy is really the same for all teams and that is to be consistent, have a good consistent pace and try and avoid breakdowns and self-inflicted wounds by the drivers.
There are a lot of penalties to be aware of for things like driver changes, having too many feet on the boat, buoys, speeding when under yellow (flags).
All those type of things are lap penalties.
Our team has a lot of experience.
I have been there the last two years.
Thani has a wealth of experience in Formula One, Rashed is the F2 World Champion and has F1 experience and Rashed Al-Tayer, who has a lot of boat racing experience in general.
We have a strong line-up.
No matter who is in the boat, no-one can take advantage of any of us in that team.
The endurance addition to the world power boating calendar was devised by the Rouen Yacht Club in 1963.
The first race in the 2018 UIM World Endurance Championship gets underway with scrutineering of the boats on Lacroix island in the centre of the River Seine in Rouen on Saturday (April 28).
Drivers will be permitted free practice on the course from 17.00hrs to 22.00hrs local time on Sunday evening (April 29) after an official drivers’ briefing.
The 24hr race starts at 10.00hrs (noon UAE time) on Monday (April 30) and the first section of 15 hours will run until 01.00hrs (3am UAE time).
Competitors will then be permitted seven hours of rest before the final nine hours of racing starts at 07.00hrs (9am UAE time) on Tuesday, May 1 and finishes at 16.00hrs (6pm UAE time).
Photo: Chris Davies