AUGUSTOW: Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qemzi launched his bid for a fourth UIM F2 World Championship title in commanding fashion today by securing pole position for the Grand Prix of Poland.
The Emirati driver largely dominated the opening day of the new season, and team-mate Mansoor Al-Mansoori also produced an impressive display to qualify in third place for tomorrow afternoon’s first round of the 2022 championship.
Al-Qemzi immediately set down the fastest time at the start of the six-boat qualifying shoot-out before it was halted by a yellow flag after American Brent Dillard hit a buoy.
With winds across Lake Necko producing increasingly rough conditions, another yellow flag followed a few minutes later after Norwegian Tobias Munthe-Kaas crashed out.
Despite the interruptions, Al-Qemzi was untroubled as he claimed pole ahead of German Stefan Hagin, as Al-Mansoori gave an early warning that he could emerge as a serious contender this season.
A powerful assembly of 22 boats has gathered in Augustow for the start of the 2022 season, and Al-Qemzi immediately showed the pace that has earned him three F2 world titles as the boats took to the water on Lake Necko for the first time.
He recorded the fastest lap in this morning’s free practice session from Munthe-Kaas, with Al-Mansoori setting the fifth best time to underline his credentials.
That form continued into the afternoon’s first of three qualifying phases, although the triple world champion was content to finish second to team-mate Al-Mansoori on this occasion.
Munthe-Kaas and Team Sharjah’s Sami Selio were third and fourth quickest in the initial 20-minute session, which sent the top 15 drivers through.
Al-Qemzi powered his way into the six-boat shoot-out by dominating the second qualifying session ahead of American Brent Dlllar, Munthe-Kaas and Al-Mansoori in fourth place.
Memories of their World Endurance Championship triumph with Team Abu Dhabi in Augustow 12 months ago were still fresh in the minds of Al-Qemzi and Al-Mansoori as they returned to action at the spa resort in northeastern Poland.
Just two months after that success on Lake Necko last July, Al-Qemzi notched a fourth consecutive win in the Grand Prix of Portugal to clinch the 2021 F2 world crown.
The result underlined the impact made by Italian powerboat racing legend Guido Cappellini, who has delivered 14 world titles to the UAE capital since taking over as Team Abu Dhabi manager in February 2015.