F2 Team Abu Dhabi's Al-Qemzi and Al-Tayer qualify fifth and sixth in Lithuania
UIM F2 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Grand Prix of Lithuania – Kaunas, May 26-27
TEAM ABU DHABI’S AL-QEMZI AND AL-TAYER IMPRESS TO QUALIFY
IN FIFTH AND SIXTH FOR F2 RACE OPENER IN LITHUANIA
· Pole position on Kaunas Reservoir for Italy’s Alberto Comparato
KAUNAS (LITHUANIA): Saturday, May 26: Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qemzi and Rashed Al-Tayer faced a massive field of 27 rival racers during Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session for the Grand Prix of Lithuania, the opening round of the UIM F2 World Championship, on Kaunas Reservoir.
The duo running out of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) both made it through to the Q3 qualifying session and carded best laps of 53.84sec and 53.97sec and qualified for Sunday afternoon’s race in fifth and sixth positions. Italian Alberto Comparato claimed pole position with a fastest Q3 lap of 53.25sec. That was sufficient to beat American Brent Dillard by 13/100ths of a second. Germany’s Stefan Hagin rounded off the top three.
Included in the huge entry were the two boats from Team Abu Dhabi, two from the Victory Team, former F4 Trophy drivers Kalle Viippo, Oskar Samuelsson, Ferdinand Zandbergen and Tobias Munthe-Kaas, F1 H2O racer Duarte Benavente and a plethora of rapid European racers, including Ola Pettersson, Johan Österberg, Spaniard Héctor Sanz Lopez, local hero Edgaras Riabko, Russian Konstantin Ustinov and Italy’s Alberto Comparato.
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.
Qualifying was split into three groups with the fastest five from each group moving into Q2 and the top 10 heading into a Q3 shoot-out.
Al-Qemzi found himself drawn in heat one alongside some potent opposition that included Benavente, Sanz and Ivan Brigada. The Emirati was patient for the first few laps, while Pettersson set the early target of 56.01sec and then the defending champion put in a blistering run of 54.96sec to move to the top of the rankings. After a short delay to replace a turn buoy, racing resumed in rough conditions and Al-Qemzi held on to win the heat with a best lap of 54.69sec. Victory Team’s Mansoor Al-Mansoori left it until the dying seconds to post a second fastest lap of 55.12sec, while Benavente, an inspired Frode Sundsdal and Ferdinand Zandbergen also qualified. Brigada was one of five drivers to miss out with propeller and balance issues.
Hagin, Samuelsson and Comparato were three of the fancied racers in heat two. The German didn’t disappoint and won the heat with a lap of 54.88sec to qualify for Q2 along with Samuelsson, Riabko, Comparato and Österberg.
Al-Tayer lined up alongside eight rivals in heat three, including Owen Jelf, Munthe-Kass, Ustinov and Philippe Tourre. Six of the nine posted 57-second lap times in the first few minutes and then Al-Tayer was the first to lap in under 57 with a time of 56.44sec. Brent Dillard then carded an impressive 55.84sec lap to move to the top of the rankings and Munthe-Kass improved the target with a 55.44sec run halfway through the stint. Dillard went even quicker with a 55.25sec lap and was joined in Q2 by Munthe-Kaas, Al-Tayer, Bimba Sjöholm and Segenmark.
Fifteen boats lined up in Q2 and Dillard was the fastest after five minutes with a lap of 56.35sec. Al-Qemzi played a similar strategy to Q1 and quietly waited for his opportunity to strike before carding a fastest tour of 55.86sec to move to the top of the leader board. Victory Team’s Al-Mansoori crashed out soon afterwards and the yellow flag was raised while the boat and the unharmed driver were removed from the water.
Al-Tayer then stormed to the top of the rankings with a run of 55.72sec to almost certainly book his place in Q3, although Hagin ran a 55.19sec towards the end of the session. Zandbergen, Samuelsson, Österberg and Sundsdal were eliminated alongside Al-Mansoori.
Benavente set the target time of 54.53sec on his first lap at the start of Q3. Segenmark matched the Portuguese on his first run and went faster with a 54.19sec run on his last attempt. Riabko opened his account with a 53.75sec to gain the lead before Dillard took to the course and ran a first lap of 53.38sec to scorch to the front. Comparato, however, ran an opener of 53.44sec and then moved ahead of Dillard into provisional pole with a 53.25sec flyer.
Team Abu Dhabi’s defending champion Al-Qemzi was next to run and he carded a first tour of 53.84sec to move into a provisional fourth position with four drivers still to run. A first run of 54.06sec was not quick enough for Munthe-Kaas, although the Norwegian did improve by 6/100ths of a second on his last lap. Al-Tayer began with a 54.09sec lap and improved with a 53.97sec second run but could not match his team-mate.
Hagin carded a best lap of 53.50sec and that left Sjöholm to try and prevent Comparato from claiming pole. But the Swede missed out on the session with engine issues and the Italian claimed pole.
Because of the size of the field, free practice was split into groups. Stefan Hagin and Rashed Al-Qemzi were the quickest two on the water in the opening group with the German carding a best lap of 52.82 seconds to become the only racer to break the sub 53-second barrier. Fourteen boats took to the water and Tobias Munthe-Kaas and Héctor Sanz Lopez were third and fourth.
Al-Tayer topped the times early in his session but the likes of Brent Dillard, Edgaras Riabko, Duarte Benavente and Daniel Segenmark were also into a competitive pace in the latter stages of their stint on the reservoir. Dillard topped the times in the session with a slower tine of 53.56 seconds amongst the 15 drivers.
Further free practice starts at 10.00hrs on Sunday. May 27th and precedes Group B warm-up at 10.45hrs and the Repecharge race for the slowest qualifiers at 13.00hrs. The Grand Prix of Lithuania gets the green flag at 15.30hrs.
2017 Grand Prix of Lithuania – Q3 qualifying times:
1. Alberto Comparato (ITA) 53.25sec
2. Brent Dillard (USA) 53.38sec
3. Stefan Hagin (DEU) 53.50sec
4. Edgaras Riabko (LIT) 53.75sec
5. Rashed Al-Qemzi (UAE) 53.84sec
6. Rashed Al-Tayer (UAE) 53.97sec
7. Tobias Munthe-Kaas (NOR) 54.00sec
8. Daniel Segenmark (SWE) 54.19sec
9. Duarte Benavente (PRT) 54.53sec
10. Bimba Sjöholm (SWE) DNS
11. Ferdinand Zandbergen (DEU) 56.80sec
12. Oskar Samuelsson (SWE) 56.90sec
13. Johan Österberg (SWE) 57.09sec
14. Frode Sundsdal (NOR) 57.31sec
15. Mansoor Al-Mansoori (UAE) 58.86sec
- Ends -
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