Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qemzi and Mohammed Al-Mehairbi are heading to Tønsberg – the oldest city in Norway – this week to prepare for the renowned Tønsberg Båtrace, Sunday’s third round of the 2017 UIM F2 World Championship.
After winning the opening round at Kaunas in Lithuania, Al-Qemzi leads the championship standings following the surprise abandonment of round two on the Scheldt River in Antwerp because of inclement weather conditions. That decision means the Emirati heads to Scandinavia leading the series by five points from Sweden’s Johan Österberg.
A massive field of 26 boats entered the ill-fated last round of the series in Belgium and, as the Norwegian round of the series is the most popular of the season, a similarly large field of international teams is expected. However, only 16 boats will be permitted to take part in the main Grand Prix on Sunday and that places crucial importance on the three qualifying sessions that Al-Qemzi and Al-Mehairbi hope to be involved in on Saturday evening.
In a first season of F2 racing in 2016, Al-Qemzi enjoyed his experience of racing in Norway and the rookie racing out of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) finished in ninth position. Victory in Norway last year fell to the experienced Swedish driver Pierre Lundin, who returns to action this weekend in a boat sporting a new colour scheme. Britain’s Matthew Palfreyman and the Swedish duo of Erik Edin and Ola Pettersson rounded off the top four in last year’s Tønsberg Båtrace and all should be present in what promises to be one of the strongest fields ever seen at an F2 race.
Tønsberg is located around 100km from the Norwegian capital Oslo and 224km from the port of Kristiansand. It is a municipality in Vestfold county and lies on the western coast of the Oslofjord, near its mouth with the Skagerrak. It was established as a municipality in 1838, but records date back as far as 1130 and the city was reportedly founded before the Battle of Hafrsfjord, circa AD871.
The Tønsberg Båtrace is organised by Re Motorsport under the auspices of the Norwegian Motorsport Federation (NWF) and the support of F2 racer and project manager Frode Sundsdal. On-course action begins on Friday (August 3) with a Speed Run from 18.15hrs for the top 16 in the UIM F2 World Championship. This will be followed by a Match Race, starting at 19.00hrs.
Official practice for the first of two groups of F2 boats gets underway from 13.00hrs on Saturday (August 4) afternoon and a second group takes to the water at 14.00hrs. Qualifying will be split into three sessions, with Group A taking to the water for 20 minutes from 18.00hrs and Group B following soon afterwards. The field will be whittled down to 15 boats for Q2, which will run for a further 15 minutes. A 10-boat shoot-out to determine Pole Position gets underway for the fastest drivers at 19.00hrs.
Teams will be permitted warm-up on the course from 12.20hrs on Sunday and there will be a Repocharge race for boats that have not already qualified for the F2 Grand Prix from 14.10hrs. The fastest six will then join the 10 Q3 qualifiers for the main race. Limited to 16 boats only, the Tønsberg Båtrace is due to fire into life at 16.30hrs (18.30hrs UAE time).