PORTIMAO, Portugal – 4th of April, 2009 – Team Abu Dhabi driver Hamad Al Hameli led from the pole and controlled the opening round of the 2009 U.I.M. F1 World Championship for power boating as he won for the first time in his career and now leads the drivers title with 20 points after winning by 1.91 seconds at the 11th Annual Grand Prix of Portugal.
The 30 year-old driver from Abu Dhabi fought through five re-starts and held off three different drivers for the win eventually finishing ahead of World Champion and last years winner of the race Jay Price of the Qatar Team as the driver from New Orleans, Louisiana moved from 4th to keep his streak alive by finishing in the top-2 for the seventh straight event that he has completed as he picked up 15 points in the championship.
Taking third was Swedish driver Jonas Andersson of Team Azerbaijan has he was 6.58 seconds back on the seven pin 1.85 kilometer race course on the Arade River for 12 points.
Team Abu Dhabi’s other driver Thani Al Qamzi came from 17th to finish a fine fourth and gather up nine points while Italian Fabio Comparato was fifth for another fine performance in his 800 Doctor BABA boat.
Sixth was rookie driver Ugis Gross from Latvia on the Zepter Team while his teammate Guido Cappellini struggled in his new boat finally ending his day in a unhappy note by having his engine expire on the 38th and final lap classifying him down in the 10th position and picking up 1 point for the seven time winner of the Grand Prix of Portugal.
Norway’s Marit Stromoy put together a great afternoon after charging her way from the 18th position on the dock for his best career finish yet with a seventh in her Team Azerbaijan boat.
Italian Leo Bonelli arriving just this morning from Italy replacing Qatar Team driver Yousef Al Khulaifi started 13th and took three points home in 8th place in his first race in two years.
German Fabian Kalsow was 9th for the China CTIC Team picking up a pair of points in the process.
Italian Marco Gambi of the Singha F1 Racing Team started the day on the first lap blowing the boat over in spectacular fashion at the far north end of the course ending his weekend by damaging the boat to a point that he will not be able to race tomorrow afternoons second Grand Prix.
English driver Andy Elliott came out of a two year retirement only to have his boat catch on fire on the 5th lap and failing in his chance to earn World Championship points. Then 2007 World Champion Sami Selio had bad luck strike him again when his engine failed on the fast circuit in Portimao on the 34th lap and dropping him out of second position in the race for his Mad Croc F1 Team Woodstock effort.
The 2009 season and it’s new format will see the 2nd of the years races tomorrow afternoon starting at 14 :15 GMT local time and 9 :15 EDT on the East Coast of North America. It will once again feature a 30 minute green flag event with the question being will Abu Dhabi driver Ahmad Al Hameli take his second straight win. We’ll know in less than 24 hours at the 11th Grand Prix of Portugal in the lovely city of Portimao on the south Algarve coast.