Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qemzi had the perfect weekend in Ribadouro, starting from Pole Position, he led the UIM F2 Portugal Grand Prix from starting lights to chequered flag.
The Emirati used his pole qualifying position to full advantage, overcame a restart situation and gradually began to pull away from the rest of the field on the Duoro River in Portugal.
Al-Qemzi reached the chequered flag 11.19 seconds in front of Portugal’s local favourite Duarte-Benavente, with series leader Alberto Comparato only managing to finish sixth, Al-Qemzi heads to the final race in Sri Lanka trailing the Italian by an unofficial 16 points with 20 available for the win.
Lithuania’s Edgaras Riabko held second place for much of the race before slipping behind Benavente, while Tobias Munthe-Kaas was classified in fourth place.
Four-time UIM F1 H2O World Champion Alex Carella of the Victory Team headed series leader Alberto Comparato in fifth.
This is a fantastic result for the team and a victory that I knew I had to achieve to stand any chance of winning the World Championship again.
The team did a fantastic job with the boat.
We showed in qualifying that we were the quickest and to bring it home in first place is a perfect result.
Grand Prix of Portugal
In addition to the fastest 15 qualifiers for the race on the five-pin, 1.765km race course, a further five were permitted to join the rear of the field after making it through the Repechage race on Sunday morning.
Al-Qemzi lined up on pole position for the 45-lap race and was flanked at the start by Duarte Benavente, Edgaras Riabko and Alex Carella.
Rupert Temper and Hector Sanz – who made a remarkable recovery from his crash on Saturday – failed to make it through the last chance saloon after allegedly jump starting the Repecharge green light.
Sanz had qualified in fifth place in a race won by Kalle Viippo.
Frenchman Philippe Tourre was sidelined before the start after concerns with his safety breathing apparatus.
The race was yellow flagged immediately after an incident, Daniel Segenmark was catching Alberto Comparato when the Italian closed the door on him, in turn Segenmark spun-out.
The boats were called back to the pontoon for an official restart while Segenmark’s hull was removed from the water, unable to continue with a trim issue.
Al-Qemzi made a terrific start and stormed out in front and began to pull away from his rivals, as Benavente held second and Riabko was third through lap one.
The Team Abu Dhabi driver’s lead was six seconds through lap three and Al-Tayer was also on the move and up to ninth overall.
Riabko passed the Portuguese and began to push on in a bid to catch the leader but the gap remained constant through six laps. The Lithuanian reduced Al-Qemzi’s lead to 4.4 seconds through eight laps and the difference was 3.18 seconds after lap nine and 2.87 seconds heading into lap 11.
Al-Qemzi responded after catching back markers and the margin grew to 4.31 seconds into lap 14, as the leaders held station in a procession. There were no changes to the running order after 19 laps but the leading margin was 10.54 seconds as Al-Qemzi began to put in some impressive lap times topped by a 45.56sec flyer.
Twenty-three laps down and the Emirati’s lead was 16.38 seconds over Riabko.
Benavente, Munthe-Kaas and Carella maintained their top five places and Al-Tayer was settled in ninth place. By lap 30, Al-Qemzi’s advantage was 17.10 seconds as the procession continued with Benavente continuing to challenge Riabko for second place. Trim pump failure accounted for Finland’s Kalle Viippo, who had qualified for the race through the repecharge.
Al-Qemzi held on to claim his first win of the season and rekindle hopes of defending his world title and Benavente found a way to pass Riabko and snatch second place.
The UIM F2 World Championship draws to a conclusion at the end of November with a brand new addition to the racing calendar with the Colombo-based Grand Prix of Sri Lanka.
2018 Grand Prix of Portugal – result (unofficial @16.54hrs):
1. Rashed Al-Qemzi (UAE) 43.68sec
2. Duarte Benavente (PRT) @11.19sec
3. Edgaras Riabko (LIT) @35.97sec
4. Tobias Munthe-Kaas (NOR) @36.59sec
5. Alex Carella (ITA) @39.37sec
6. Alberto Comparato (ITA) @40.47sec
7. Brent Dillard (USA) @41.56sec
8. Ferdinand Zandbergen (NED) @42.84sec
9. Rashed Al-Tayer (UAE) @43.72sec
10. Bimba Sjöholm (SWE) @47.28sec
11. Oskar Samuelsson (SWE) L1
12. Ola Pettersson (SWE) L1
13. Steve Hoult (GBR) L1
14. Owen Jelf (GBR) L1
15. Luca Fornasarig (ITA) L6
Kalle Viippo (FIN) RET
Mette Bjerknaes (NOR) RET
Gavin Bricker (AUS) RET
Daniel Segenmark (SWE) RET
Philippe Tourre (FRA) DNS