VILA VELHA DE RODAO: Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qemzi recorded another emphatic victory in the Grand Prix of Portugal on Sunday to round off his fourth triumphant season in the UIM F2 World Championship.
The Emirati driver was in complete control on the Tegus River circuit at Vila Velha de Rodao as he led from start to finish, from pole position, to cruise home by 4.8 seconds from Portugal’s Duarte Benavente.
His third Grand Prix success of the season came a week after he had secured his fourth F2 world title to add to his triumphs in 2017, 2019 and 2021, and not for the first time in this campaign, Al-Qemzi looked in a class of his own.
Even two yellow flags in quick succession, which forced restarts toward the end of the race, could unsettle Al-Qemzi as he produced another faultless display to underline his status as the outstanding F2 driver of his generation.
Claiming the third podium position on the day following his Grand Prix success last weekend, Lithuania’s Edgaras Riabko took the championship silver medal, while there was bronze for Estonia’s Stefan Arand, who finished fourth on the day.
Taking fifth place, Team Abu Dhabi’s Mansoor Al-Mansoori finished sixth overall in the championship, which has been one of the most fiercely contested in recent years.
The depth of competition simply brought the best out of Al-Qemzi, as he secured the 17th world championship title for Team Abu Dhabi since Guido Cappellini took charge as team manager eight years ago.
Having grabbed pole position with a devastating last lap 24 hours earlier, he was in command from the start on Sunday as he won the race to the first turn, and never looked back.
His path to another Grand Prix win was briefly delayed by accidents which removed Norway’s Tobias Mune-Kaas and Sweden’s Mailda Wiberg, but the back-to-back restarts only seemed to push Al-Qemzi on to the inevitable victory.
While the F2 title was always the top priority this season for Al-Qemzi, with that championship season now over, he will have little time to switch off before returning to action for Team Abu Dhabi next weekend.
He joins forces with his cousin, the vastly experienced Thani Al-Qemzi, in the penultimate round of the 2023 UIM F1H2O World Championship, the Regione Sardegna Grand Prix of Italy in Olbia.
Stepping in for the suspended reigning champion, Shaun Torrente, Rashed will relish the opportunity to deliver another world title to the UAE capital.
With the final round of the season to follow in Sharjah in December, Team Abu Dhabi are currently third in the team championship, just five points adrift of Team Sweden and two behind Sharjah Team, having won the crown for five successive seasons.