Mohammed Al-Mehairbi to drive second Team Abu Dhabi boat on Lake Lugano
Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qemzi faces one of the most important tests of his relatively short racing career when he heads to Campione d’Italia to defend a 12-point lead in the UIM F2 World Championship at this weekend’s Grand Prix of Switzerland.
The rookie Emirati has been a revelation in this year’s prestigious F2 series and a victory at the opening round in Lithuania in June was followed by third position in Norway at the start of last month. Those results have given the driver out of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) a total of 32 championship points with two races remaining. Mohammed Al-Mehairbi drives the second Team Abu Dhabi boat this weekend.
Al-Qemzi faces formidable opposition on this occasion, however, and a small armada of Scandinavian drivers will be challenging hard for honours on Lake Lugano, which separates southern Switzerland from northern Italy. The Emirati’s closest championship rival is the experienced Swede Pierre Lundin on 20 points, while Frenchman Nelson Morin and Sweden’s Johan Österberg and Ola Pettersson are both well placed to challenge for the top of the podium.
Another Swede, Erik Edin, won the recent European Championship title at Kupiškis in Lithuania, but he trails Al-Qemzi by 27 points with 40 still at stake over the two remaining races. Other to watch out for over race weekend include Norway’s Tobias Munthe-Kaas, Spain’s Héctor Sanz Lopez, the rapid British duo of Matthew Palfreyman and Owen Jelf and Russia’s Konstantin Ustinov.
Heavy rain curtailed qualifying and practice at this race on the Saturday last year and drivers faced a hectic final day’s action, which saw Al-Qemzi and Al-Mehairbi finish in sixth and 14th positions on their Campione d’Italia debut. Lundin won the race last season from Palfreyman and Edin, but Al-Qemzi’s third place at the recent EDH Tønsberg Båtrace in Norway proved that his Lithuanian race win was no flash in the pan and Rashed is confident that he can extend his 2017 series lead.
Etihad Airways is the official carrier for Team Abu Dhabi that is also supported by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and runs under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Khalifa Al-Nahyan, advisor to the Head of State and chairman of the board of directors of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club and under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Sultan Bin Khalifa Al-Nahyan, Vice-President and CEO of the ADIMSC. The racing team runs under the auspices of the ADIMSC and board member and general manager Salem Al-Remeithi and team manager Guido Cappellini.
“This is a vital Grand Prix to decide the outcome of the title race,” said Salem Al-Remeithi. “Rashed is ready, focused and determined and we know that a podium finish would be a massive step towards a first ever F2 title for Team Abu Dhabi.”
Racing is being organised by Classic Silver Boat under the auspices of the Federazione Svizzera Motonautica (FSM). Campione d’Italia is located in the province of Como in the Lombardy region of northern Italy and is an Italian enclave within the Swiss canton of Ticino, separated from the rest of Italy by mountains. The nearest Italian town is Lanzo d’Intelvi, which is close to Cappellini’s home city of Como.
After technical checks and scrutineering on Friday (September 8), on course action at the fourth round of the UIM F2 World Championship gets underway with free practice from 10.25hrs on Saturday morning. The three qualifying sessions then take centre stage from 14.30hrs and there will be a qualifying or repocharge race at 17.20hrs.
After warm-up and the customary parade lap, the Grand Prix of Switzerland fires into life at 14.35hrs (16.35hrs UAE time)on Sunday afternoon.
UIM F2 World Championship – positions after round 3:
1. Rashed Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 32pts
2. Pierre Lundin (SWE) Lundin F1 Racing 20pts
3. Nelson Morin (FRA) F1 China CTIC Team 16pts
4. Johan Österberg (SWE) Team AJO 15pts
4. Konstantin Ustinov (RUS) New Star 15pts
6. Ola Pettersson (SWE) Skåne Racing Team F2 13pts
6. Edgaras Riabko (LIT) F2 Lithuania 13pts
8. Owen Jelf (GBR) Owen Jelf Racing 7pts
9. Daniel Segenmark (SWE) Segenmark Racing 6pts
9. Oskar Samuelsson (SWE) OS Racing 6pts, etc