SAN NAZZARO: Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qemzi recorded an impressive victory in the Grand Prix of Italy on Sunday to increase his lead in the 2023 UIM F2 World Championship.
Chasing a fourth F2 world drivers’ title, the Emirati driver produced a flawless performance on the River Po circuit in San Nazzaro to record a comfortable victory, from Sweden’s Daniel Segenmark, and maintain his 100 percent record this season.
Al-Qemzi’s second successive win increased his lead in the championship to 16 points over Monaco’s Giacomo Sacchi who claimed the third podium place on the day.
Lithuania’s Edgaras Riabko, Estonia’s Stefan Arand and Britain’s Mette Bjerknes completed the top six. Team Abu Dhabi’s Mansoor Al-Mansoori finished seventh after starting eighth.
After a typically impressive start, Al-Qemzi immediately began to assert his authority before a yellow flag brought the race to an early halt when a buoy was taken out by Sweden’s Mathilda Wiberg.
The resultant delay and pontoon restart produced an identical result, as Al-Qemzi again powered his way into a clear lead from Norway’s Tobias Munthe-Kaas, before Sharjah Team’s rookie Finnish driver, Totti Kemppainen, crashed out to halt the race again.
It had no effect on Al-Qemzi, who maintained his composure and regained control again from the second restart, quickly opening up a lead of more than seven seconds from Segenmark.
From that point on, the three-time world champion looked in a class of his own, almost teasingly allowing Segenmark to narrow the gap on occasions before pulling away again to show who was in command, eventually cruising home by just under three seconds.
It was a characteristically assured performance from Al-Qemzi, who won last month’s opening round in Lithuania in a brand new boat he was driving for the first time.
He had produced another strong display in the qualifying shootout 24 hours earlier to gain pole position, and Sunday’s start-to-finish victory makes him the overwhelming favorite to land another world title for Team Abu Dhabi.
The championship will be decided over back-to-back Grand Prix race weekends later this month in Portugal, where Al-Qemzi clinched his third F2 world title in 2021 with two brilliant victories a week apart.