Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qemzi will start the Grand Prix of Portugal from pole on Sunday afternoon.
Al-Qemzi delivered a sensational Q3 pole-winning lap of 43.68sec in fading light to crush his rivals and gain the advantage for Sunday’s race.
Portuguese veteran Duarte Benavente qualified in second place and pipped Lithuania’s Edgaras Riabko to the runner-up spot. Four-time UIM F1 H2O World Champion Alex Carella was fourth for the Victory Team and series leader Alberto Comparato qualified in sixth.
Qualifying for the penultimate round of the UIM F2 World Championship was split into three sessions on the Douro River in Ribadouro.
Q1 on the five-pin, 1.765km race course was crucial with 13 of the 28 boats being eliminated.
Q1 was split into three groups of 10, nine and nine. Al-Qemzi topped the Q1 group one times with a 45.25sec lap and was 0.28 seconds in front of Benavente.
Edgaras Riabko headed Brent Dillard and Ola Petterson in the second Q1 session that was marred by a spectacular somersault involving Spaniard Hector Sanz.
The Riba Roja driver was not injured in the crash.
Stefan Hagin was one of the surprise drivers to be eliminated from the session.
The third of the Q1 sessions featured the remaining nine drivers.
Tobias Munthe-Kaas and Alex Carella were the early class of group and the Norwegian set the target lap of 47.38sec. Ferdinand Zandbergen eventually won the stint with a 47.29sec lap and Owen Jelf moved up to fourth in trickier water conditions.
The fastest 15 boats lined up in Q2 and the number would be whittled down to 10 for the Q3 shoot-out. The sun was setting over the west of the course as Q2 got underway.
Five boats would be eliminated but Benavente and Al-Qemzi showed their F1 pedigree early with laps of 46.41sec and 46.51sec, respectively, to move to the top of the standings.
Al-Qemzi ran even quicker to top the session with a 46.19sec, but Luca Fornasarig, Bimba Sjöholm, Ola Pettersson, Owen Jelf and Al-Tayer missed out on Q3 after the Team Abu Dhabi driver was pushed down to 11th in the closing seconds by a lap of 46.87sec by Alex Carella.
Q3 got underway and Oskar Samuelsson carded the target of 45.94sec lap on his second run.
Fellow Swede Daniel Segenmark aborted his first run and moved to the front with a 45.18sec lap, but that time was surpassed by series leader Alberto Comparato’s time of 44.94sec. Next up was Edgaras Riabko and he hit the top of the leaderboard with a 44.53sec tour.
Zandbergen fell short with a 45.06sec lap and Carella could not match Riabko and moved into second with a 44.59sec.
Munthe-Kaas posted a 44.75sec before dramatically flipping on his third lap and Brent Dillard ran up short with a best circuit of 45.28sec.
That left just Benavente and Al-Qemzi stil to run.
The Portuguese veteran moved into provisional pole in fading light with a 44.34sec lap and that put the pressure on Al-Qemzi to deliver.
But the talented Emirati was not to be denied and an opening lap of 43.68ec wrapped up pole position in stunning fashion.
2018 Grand Prix of Portugal – qualifying times (unofficial):
1. Rashed Al-Qemzi (UAE) 43.68sec
2. Duarte Benavente (PRT) 44.34sec
3. Edgaras Riabko (LIT) 44.53sec
4. Alex Carella (ITA) 44.59sec
5. Tobias Munthe-Kaas (NOR) 44.75sec
6. Alberto Comparato (ITA) 44.94sec
7. Ferdinand Zandbergen (NED) 45.06sec
8. Daniel Segenmark (SWE) 45.18sec
9. Brent Dillard (USA) 45.28sec
10. Oskar Samuelsson (SWE) 45.94sec
11. Rashed Al-Tayer (UAE) 47.57sec
12. Owen Jelf (GBR) 48.14sec
13. Ola Pettersson (SWE) 48.39sec
14. Bimba Sjöholm (SWE) 48.39sec
15. Luca Fornasarig (ITA) 48.42sec
16. Kalle Viippo (FIN) 46.78sec
17. Steve Hoult (GBR) 47.12sec
18. Gavin Bricker (AUS) 47.44sec
19. Héctor Sanz (ESP) 47.53sec
20. Philippe Tourre (FRA) 47.91sec
21. Mette Bjerknaes (NOR) 47.97sec
22. Nick Bisterfeld (DEU) 48.75sec
23. Tommy Walhsten (SWE) 48.97sec
24. Rupert Temper (AUT) 49.57sec
25. Paulo Longhi (ITA) 50.85sec
26. Stefan Hagin (DEU) 51.62sec
Mansoor Al-Mansoori (UAE) DNS
Sander Sarlin (EST) DNS