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.
Victory Team’s Ahmed Al Fahim lived up to his potential with outright triumph in the second race of the F4 category during the Grand Prix of India, the fifth round of the 2018 UIM F1H2O World Championship, on Sunday.
Al Fahim, who was one of the few emirati talents given a break at the start of the season, finished the second race on the Krishna River to take maximum points and pull himself into contention for overall honours.
The race was always going to be an interesting one after Al Fahim claimed pole position with a fine lap of 53.61 seconds leaving England’s Sam Whittle in second and Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammad Al Mehairbi in fifth.
Race one winner Rudolf Mihaldinecz did not start the qualifying session leaving the field open for the rest of the drivers.
Al Fahim led the way towards the first turn and completed the first lap 1.88 seconds off Whittle, but the yellow flag was raised almost immediately before action re-started on Lap 3.
Al Fahim began to pull away from Whittle with the seven surviving boats holding station through Lap 8 of 20 with the leader extending his advantage.
There were no changes to the running order after Lap 12 and Al Fahim managed to hold on to his lead to claim the win over Whittle by nearly five seconds.
Ahmed Al Hameli and Alex Carella, Al Fahim’s teammates, were not as fortunate with Al Hameli coming in eighth, while Carella did not even finish his race.
Action in the UIM F1 H2O World Championship reaches a conclusion with two races in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in December.
Dubai’s Victory Team capped a successful trans-Atlantic debut with an overall podium finish as the 38th Annual Key West World Championships concluded in Florida on Monday.
Moving into the North American powerboating scene for the first time, Victory 33 with Salem Al Adidi and John Tomlinson on board took their third successive podium to conclude their campaign with their first-ever top-3 finish in North America.
Victory Team’s second boat with Eisa Al Ali and Steve Curtis on board rolled over and flipped on Turn 1 of the fourth lap to bring a premature end to their American campaign.
The two Victory Team boats had created quite a stir in the penultimate race on Friday by snatching the top two positions to throw the chase for overall honours wide open.
But, on Monday it was a totally different situation with front-runners Team CRC and Wake Effects rebounding in strong fashion.
Ron and Jeff Harris (Wake Effects) took the checkered flag to be crowned world champions after finishing with a three-race total of 883 points, nipping Team CRC in second place by just half a point, while Victory 33 followed in third overall with 812 points.
“This is the world of powerboat racing. It is tough out there and for us to come here and land with an overall placing is a huge motivation,” said Huraiz Bin Huraiz, chairman of board of directors at Victory Team after the race.
“We have done some good ground work in our first year in North America and I am sure we can build on this performance in due course.
“We have made a start into a new territory and that is the important part of our team synergy. It is now just a matter of time when we build up on this success.”