Team Abu Dhabi excelled on its first ever UIM F2 Championship racing challenge at a rain-interrupted UIM F2 Campione d’Italia Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon.
In overcast and gloomy conditions, Al-Qamzi and Al-Mehairbi lined up for the race start in sixth and 20th positions in Team Abu Dhabi 35 and 36. Pole winner Pierre Lundin of Sweden and Matthew Palfreyman of England made the early running from the front of the field, with Al-Qamzi maintaining sixth and Al-Mehairbi climbing from 20th to 15th.
Through five of the 45 laps, the leading group held station, although Al-Mehairbi slipped back to 17th and he had fallen back to 18th by lap 12, as Lundin maintained a slender lead over Palfreyman at the front of the field and Erik Edin overhauled Alberto Comparato to snatch third. At just short of half-distance, after 22 laps, Lundin led Palfreyman by just 1.93 seconds, with Edin a distant third. Al-Qamzi had passed Stefan Hagin and retaken sixth place, while Al-Mehairbi also rose to 16th.
There were no changes within the top 10 through 27 laps, although Lundin had extended his lead over Palfreyman to 3.56 seconds and Nick Bisterfield snatched fourth place from Comparato on the next tour of the Lake Lugano course. Al-Qamzi and Al-Mehairbi retained sixth and 16th spots heading into the remaining 15 laps, although Stefan Hagin began to fall back and out of the top 10.
There were no late dramas for Lundin and he held on to take a start-to-finish win although Palfreyman sustained damage after a collision whilst lapping another boat and still managed an impressive second.
The Team Abu Dhabi duo crossed the finish line in sixth and 14th overall.
Said Salem Al-Romaithi, assistant general manager of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC),
The weather interruption was unfortunate, but it was the same for everyone and it meant a lot of the racing was crammed into one day. It was a new experience for Rashed and Mohammed to follow on from the challenges they faced in Rouen. They both delivered excellent performances against a very strong field of European racers and this bodes extremely well for the future.
An impressive 25 boats were entered in the second round of the F2 series, although torrential rain and a lack of medical cover curtailed the practice session and put the original timetable into chaos, with qualifying rescheduled for Sunday morning. Germany’s Stefan Hagin topped the practice times in the A section with a lap of 44.28sec in a group that contained 13 of the field. Al-Mehairbi ran for 29 laps and carded a time of 47.75sec to slot into eighth position.
Rashed Al-Qamzi was placed with 11 other rivals in group B and the Team Abu Dhabi driver was classified in an impressive third place on his F2 racing debut behind Portugal’s experienced Duarte Benavente and Austrian Rupert Temper. Al-Qamzi ran for 42 laps and his best tour of the course was a lap of 47.85sec.
Qualifying followed in a hectic Sunday schedule and Al-Qamzi made it through to the Q3 session. A best lap of 46.63sec placed the Emirati into a highly creditable sixth place for the start of the race behind pole winner Pierre Lundin, Matthew Palfreyman, young Alberto Comparato, Stefan Hagin and Bimba Sjöholm. Al-Mehairbi was eliminated in Q1 and was classified in 17th position before going on to finish fifth in the afternoon’s qualifying race that enabled him to tag on to the end of the main grid.
UIM F2 Campione d’Italia Grand Prix
1. Pierre Lundin (SWE) Lundin F1 Racing – 45 laps
2. Matthew Palfreyman (GBR) F1 Atlantic Team – @ 10.5sec
3. Erik Edin (SWE) Edin Racing Team – @ 38.41sec
4. Nick Bisterfield (GER) Bisterfield Racing – @ 44.60sec
5. Alberto Comparato (ITA) Comparato F2 – @ 48.36sec
6. Rashed Al-Qamzi (ARE) Team Abu Dhabi – 1 lap behind
7. Johan Osterberg (SWE) Team AJO – 1 lap behind
8. Ola Pettersson (SWE) Skana Racing Team F2 – 2 laps behind
9. Owen Jelf (GBR) Owen Jelf Racing – 2 laps behnd
10. Rupert Temper (AUT) RT Racing Team – 2 laps behind
14. Mohammed Al-Mehairbi (ARE) Team Abu Dhabi – 3 laps behind
Photos: ADIMSC / Adrian Morse / F2 Team Association / Chris Davies