Team Abu Dhabi 6 was dramatically demoted to third position in the final results of the 24 Hours of Rouen endurance race by race officials on Monday evening, despite finishing the race second, ahead of the Touax Pegase Racing Team.
Both boats had completed the shortened 17-hour race on the River Seine in Northern France 20 laps behind the race-winning Team Nollet by New Star 20.
But race officials deemed that Thani and Rashed Al Qemzi, Rashed Al Tayer and American Shaun Torrente were behind their French rivals on their 537th and final lap and third place was the result.
The team appealed the decision in vain and will now try to win the UIM World Endurance Championship at the next round at Augustow in Poland in two month’s time.
Team Abu Dhabi had overcame several niggling technical issues, a costly eight-lap penalty and a late scare over fuel levels to believe they had initially clinched second overall in the prestigious race.
With the weather improving somewhat for the second session of a race that started seven hours late on Monday because of appalling conditions, the foursome completed a topsy-turvy race.
They held second for a couple of hours at the start and then fought back from seventh place to eventually finish behind the winning Team Nollet by New Star 20 DAC.
Fuel level issues for Team Abu Dhabi and a late scare for the eventual winners ensured a thrilling conclusion to the shortened 17-hour race.
Team Abu Dhabi’s challenge suffered lap penalties during the first session for turn buoy violations and debris wrapped around the propeller in fading light and then two prop shaft failures and a broken compressor in the last few hours of the second session on the 3.8km course.
But the team fought back resolutely and reached the chequered flag 20 laps behind the winners, despite running dangerously low on fuel in the final minutes of the race.
Touax Pegase Racing Team (8) usurped Abu Dhabi of second place with the UAE team rounding off the podium positions.
Team Nollet by New Star 1, crewed by three-time UIM F1 H2O world champion Philippe Chiappe, Peter and Nelson Morin and Russian driver Konstantin Ustinov, led until the end of the first session, despite flipping the boat in the dark near the end of the stint, eventually taking fifth overall.
“Everyone worked hard in a very difficult race in demanding conditions,” said Salem Al Remeithi, general manager of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC).
“We obviously wanted to finish first, but this is a race of endurance and we overcame several obstacles to finish second.”
Torrente added: “Second place confirmed, maybe with one litre of fuel left in the boat at the finish. Rashed Al Tayer did a great job in the final stint in managing the fuel and just going fast enough to stay in front of the number eight boat.
“We only had one penalty all race. We are really happy. Now we will go to Poland and try and win the World Championship in July.”
Jenson Button has announced he will take part in this year’s famous Le Mans 24 Hours race.
The 2009 Formula One world champion, 38, has been competing in Japan since he retired from Grand Prix racing two years ago but he will bid to emulate Britain’s Graham Hill and Mike Hawthorn by winning the prestigious race which takes place in June.
Button’s former McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso will also be part of the star-studded cast in Le Mans.
Button will line up alongside former Renault driver Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin for the Russian team SMP Racing.
SMP Racing was founded by billionaire Boris Rotenberg, whose brother Arkady is a close confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
As well as competing at Le Mans, Button will also race in front of his home fans at Silverstone later this summer as part of the World Endurance Championship.
— WEC (@FIAWEC) April 27, 2018
“As you can imagine it has been a dream of mine to race at Le Mans,” Button said. “It is every driver’s dream to go on and clinch that win and I am no different.
“My team-mates for this year will be Mikhail and Vitaly Petrov, who I know very well from his racing in Formula One.
“With those two and all the experience we have from different types of racing, and the team’s experience in endurance racing, we go to Le Mans to fight for the win.
“We have a really good chance of being competitive at Le Mans.
“First of all it is survival, and then you see where you are after the 24 hours and hopefully we are fighting for that victory.”
Nick Tandy was the last British driver to win the Le Mans race, when he teamed up with German F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg back in 2015.
Button took part in more than 300 grands prix in a career which climaxed in winning the 2009 championship with Brawn GP.
Motorsport fans in the UAE have the chance to celebrate the anniversary of the TAG Heuer Carrera timepiece in a unique exhibition in Dubai Mall.
Museum in Motion highlights the heritage timepieces from the brand’s museum at La Chaux-de-Fonds. Following positive feedback from TAG Heuer’s Globetrotter exhibition last September, the event marks the first time the watches have been on display outside of Switzerland.
Each exhibition is built exclusively around a specific Carrera chronograph to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the launch of TAG Heuer’s Carrera collection. The Swiss watchmaker will also be launching their Monaco Gulf Calibre 11 Special Edition timepiece for the first time in the UAE.
The Museum in Motion pieces showcase TAG Heuer’s rich history, particularly in motor sport, and highlight the brand’s craftsmanship in luxury sports watch design. Key timepieces include the iconic Heuer Carrera, which was designed by Jack Heuer in 1963 and made specifically for driver and sports enthusiasts alike, and TAG Heuer’s Calibre 11 Monaco Gulf Special Edition, equipped with the first in the world automatic chronograph, the Calibre 11.
The Heuer Carrera was the first sports chronograph made specifically for drivers and sports enthusiasts. Designed with a wide-open and easy to read dial and a shock-resistant case, the original Heuer Carera was a manual winding chronograph.
Other iconic timepieces will also be on display at the Dubai Mall event, such as the Heuer Mikrograph, the first stopwatch accurate to 1/100th of a second equipped with an oscillating pinion. Due to its superior accuracy the Heuer Mikrograph was used for the Olympic Games in 1920, 1924, 1928. The Museum in Motion Exhibition will display these historical pieces and more, showcasing the brand’s rich heritage and close links to the world of sport.
Museum in Motion will take place in Dubai Mall from April 15 and run for the last two weeks of April.