SHARHAH, United Arab Emirates – (12th of December, 2008) — It finally happened. Native son Thani Al Qamzi of Team Abu Dhabi put together a marvelous run and led from the first lap to the 50th and final tour to take his first victory of the season and his second in three years on the Khalid Lagoon to win the Ninth Grand Prix of Sharjah on the 8th and final round of the 2008 U.I.M. F1 World Championship in front of thousands of race fans in downtown Sharjah.
Thani, who was hounded all day by defending World Champion Sami Selio of the Woodstock Red Devil Racing Team set the pace with Sami coming as close as 1.1 seconds in the final third of the race around the 2.235 kilometer six-pin course before pulling away late and winning by 5.89 seconds at races end.
“I am so happy about the result and for my crew who worked so hard all season long only to have misfortune for six straight races before we came alive in the final two events on home waters,” said Thani. “Now we can head into next season with our heads up and really make a giant run for the championship for 2009.”
Selio, who started from the pole position, again struggled at the start and lost the lead on the opening lap when Al Qamzi got around him and powered out of the final turn leading on to the front straightaway and never looked back. Selio was fighting for a win all the way and not just the runner-up trophy. “We again got out run to the first couple of pins but we were in the hunt all afternoon, so we are pleased at the end of the day to capture second in the championship, said the driver from Helsinki. “We came a long way back in this championship and we started controlling qualifying in the second half and are truly satisfied with the performance and now are chomping at the bit to get going for the 2009 season.”
Jonas Andersson of Sweden had the best start of the day coming all the way from 5th and pushed towards the top three right away from the outside in his DAC boat. He finished 9.49 seconds back at the end and took third in the championship with 62 points along with a pair of wins this season. “This is the result I needed to push us for next season as we bring in new boats and a stronger sponsorship it will put his in a frame of mind for a series chance at the championship,” said the 33 year-old driver.
Italian Fabio Comparato came the longest way back starting 11th and taking fourth at days end 45.07 seconds back of the winner in his 800 Doctor sponsored BABA boat.
Philippe Chiappe of France drove his Atlantic Team boat from eighth to fifth and finishing all eight races for the season and being the last of the drivers on the same lap as winner Al Qamzi trailing 48.63 seconds at the finish.
Italian Marco Gambi led his teammate and 2000 winner of this race Francesco Cantando across the line for his best finish of his career in 6th position in the Singha Racing machine. French driver Philippe Dessertenne of the China CTIC team was eighth for his fifth top-10 placement of the season. Duarte Benavente of Portugal was ninth in his Dragon boat while Italian Ivan Brigada rounded out the top ten in his Rainbow Team DAC.
New World Champion Qatar Team driver Jay Price went from his sixth starting position to fourth until he got knotted up in his close chase with Jonas Andersson for the third position and short cut turn number three and took out a buoy. He ended up damaging his boat with the chain and ended up failing to finish for only the second time this season.
Two time Sharjah winner Guido Cappellini of the Tamoil Team ended another bad luck weekend in the Khalid Lagoon by distroying his fourth engine of the weekend and dropping out of fourth position on the 18th lap. All in all nine of the 21 drivers failed to finish on a grueling event that only the first five drives on the winning lap.
The 2008 season of the U.I.M. F1 World Championship for power boating has come to an end with Jay Price of the Qatar Team winning the championship for the first time and the Qatar Team also gaining the Team Championship as well. Uvis Slakteris of Latvia took Rookie-of-the-Year honors and Jay Price won the Slam Award for having the most fast laps of races during the season for the Qatar Team.
Twenty-eight years ago the U.I.M. F1 World Championship was formed and for the first time in its history for the fourth straight year we have a new World Champion. The 2009 season begins in mid-April when we head off to the lovely Algarve coast for the Grand Prix of Portugal and Portimao. Stay informed of all the upcoming new events by following the series on www.f1boat.com website. Stay in the know with F1 H20.