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Team Abu Dhabi primed for double UAE challenge

by Narayan Marar 28 Nov 2023 03:36 PST
Thani Al Qemzi aiming for a first GP win in Sharjah © Team Abu Dhabi

Team Abu Dhabi are primed for a big challenge on two powerboat racing stages as one season begins and another reaches its conclusion in the UAE next week.

The experienced pairings of Faleh Al Mansoori with Shaun Torrente and Rashed Al Tayer alongside Majed Al Mansoori are lined up for the opening round of the new UAE Class-3 Offshore Powerboat Championship getting under way in Khor Fakkan on 7th December.

Three days later, triple world champion Torrente will join forces with Thani Al Qemzi and Rashed Al Qemzi as Team Abu Dhabi look for a winning climax to the 2023 UIM F1H2O World Championship at the season's final round in Sharjah.

While Sweden's Jonas Andersson has already secured this year's F1H2O drivers' crown, Torrente in particular is highly motivated as he returns to action in the series, which saw him clinch the title on Sharjah's Khalid Lagoon last year, as well as in 2018 and 2019.

Although Andersson and team-team mate Kalle Viippo hold an 11-point lead in the team championship, fourth-placed Team Abu Dhabi have not given up hope of adding to the six titles they have amassed in the last seven seasons.

For that to happen, they will need to dominate the Grand Prix of Sharjah podium, and rely on misfortunes for the Swedes, and second-placed Team Sharjah combination of Sami Seliö and Ferdinand Zandbergen.

Sharjah has produced many dramatic finishes to the F1H2O World Championship, none more so than 12 months ago when Torrente thought his title ambitions had been destroyed when a crash put him out of the race after just eight laps.

Leading after a flying start, Andersson looked set to retain his world title before technical problems on the 28th lap forced his retirement, giving the championship to Torrente, so the Swede will be taking nothing for granted this time.

Torrente said: "I love the event they put on in Sharjah. I love the ambience, and racing in the city on Khalid Lagoon. Unfortunately, this year I won't be getting another world title, but we'll still be trying for the win."

Team Abu Dhabi's veteran Emirati driver Thani Al Qemzi, who finished third in the championship last season for the sixth time in his distinguished career, would like nothing better than a first victory in Sharjah to lift him from his current fifth place in the standings.

Meanwhile, for his cousin, Rashed Al Qemzi, the Grand Prix of Sharjah offers another chance to shine at the top level after he secured his fourth UIM F2 World Championship title this season with one round to spare.

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