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Team Abu Dhabi’s Al Mulla still on course for another freestyle crown despite engine problems in qualifying

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Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al Tayer refused to accept that his hopes of a first world aquabikes title are over after his challenge was damaged by mechanical problems at the Grand Prix of Sharjah today.

Al Tayer, lying joint second in the Runabout GP1 series, seven points behind Poland’s championship leader, Andrzej Wisniewski, failed to reach the second qualifying session because of a technical issue blocking the flow of fuel to his engine.

It means he will start the first of tomorrow’s two motos at 10am in 25th position, and faces a major challenge to climb through the field in order to gain a better slot for the second moto five hours later.

His situation was helped by the fact that Wisniewski was only tenth fastest qualifier, with France’s defending champion, Jeremy Perez, claiming pole position.

While Team Abu Dhabi mechanics worked on his bike, Al Tayer immediately went back out onto Khaled Lagoon to test another race machine in the event that he will need to make a switch tomorrow.

“There’s still a long way to go,” said Al Tayer, who kept his title challenge alive in China with a determined display after being forced to ride a bike rented locally when his own was held up in customs.

There was another setback for Team Abu Dhabi later, as a broken engine prevented their reigning world freestyle champion, Rashid Al Mulla, from completing his qualifying session.

It meant a busy night for the Team Abu Dhabi mechanics before All Mulla sets off tomorrow in pursuit of a tenth successive Grand Prix triumph to secure a second successive world title. He holds a commanding 18-point lead over Italy’s Roberto Mariani, having won the last 21 motos.

Runabout GP1 World Championship standings

1 ANDRZEJ WISNIEWSKI PL 104pts

2 YOUSEF AL ABDULRAZZAQ KW 97

2 RASHED AL TAYER UAE 97

4 MARCUS JORGENSEN DK 93

4 SAMUEL JOHANSSON SE 93

6 JEREMY PEREZ FR 87

7 ANTON PANKRATOV EE 86

8 JOHAN JOHANSSON SE 66

9 MATTIA FRACASSO IT 64

10 LINO ARAUJO PT 58

Freestyle World Championship standings

1 RASHID AL MULLA AE 150

2 ROBERTO MARIANI IT 132

3 JAROSLAV TIRNER CZ 110

4 SERGEY CHEMEZOV RU 107

5 PAULO NUNES PT 85

6 NIELS WILLEMS BE 71

7 ALEXANDER KURAMSHI RU 63

8 VLADISLAV VOROBEV RU 51

9 ALBERTO CAMERLENGO IT 29

10 HE LIU CN 15

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Tony Lewis

Tony Lewis, is a former British print and BBC broadcast journalist with more than 40 years’ media and PR experience.

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