Team Abu Dhabi again deprived Marit Stromoy of Emirates Racing Team of pole position in a dramatic finale to the BRM Qualifying session for the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi on Friday afternoon.
In doing so, pole-winning Erik Stark also claimed the 2019 UIM Pole Position Championship title.
With the Norwegian sitting pretty at the top of the timing board – as she had done in India last month before being deprived of pole by Shaun Torrente – it was Stark’s turn to upset the applecart on this occasion and give his title hopes a major boost with a stunning final qualifying lap of 42.81sec.
The lead changed hands several times in a thrilling six-boat Q3 shoot-out that eventually saw Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al Qemzi qualify in third position and Team Amaravati’s Jonas Andersson and Erik Edin delivering impressive performances to qualify in fourth and fifth.
Championship leader Torrente had been first on the water in not ideal conditions and the American settled for sixth place with the start of Saturday’s race now taking on even greater significance.
A delighted Stark said: “I will enjoy this moment now and the podium and then, in 30 minutes, we start the work for tomorrow.
“It’s hot, it’s going to be a long race and it’s going to be tough. I didn’t actually do a perfect lap, but it was enough. It was amazing.
“I have been in Abu Dhabi since India. I knew if I had fun out there I would do well. All race winners this year have been from pole, so I knew the importance of the qualifying.”
Team Abu Dhabi manager Guido Cappeliini added: “It’s an incredible end of this season. The drivers now are very close, especially our three drivers. There is a big pressure for this race and the next one.
“Fortunately, Thani now has a very good chance for tomorrow. Normally he makes a very good start, all the season. Maybe all our three boats can push hard and we can get three boats on the podium.
“Shaun is in sixth and now it depends on the start. It is very possible that we can get three boats in the top three positions after the second buoy.
“Marit has done an incredible job. I am very happy for this girl. She has been unbelievable now and done a very good job at the last two races. It is fantastic because the level of the World Championship is very high.”
Three-time world champion Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team failed to make it through Q1 and will start the race from 13th.
“We had a problem since India, no power, a problem with the engine,” said the Frenchman.
Victory Team’s Ahmed Al Hameli barrel-rolled out of Q2 after a high-speed coming together with Chiappe’s team-mate Peter Morin but emerged unscathed from the impact.
Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed A -Mehairbi finished fifth in the first of the weekend’s two F4 Trophy races and now trails Germany’s Max Stilz by three points in the title race.
Frenchman Tom Chiappe eased to a comfortable victory over England’s Sam Whittle and their performances have lifted them into close contention for a late push for the title.
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