PORTIMAO, Portugal – 5th of April, 2009 – Team Abu Dhabi driver Thani Al Qamzi watched his teammate for over 20 minutes dominate the 2nd Round of the 2009 U.I.M. F1 World Championship race at the Grand Prix of Portugal only to take the lead when Ahmad Al Hameli parked his boat with a seven second lead giving his close friend his 5th career victory.
« I was totally happy with the way my boat performed today, » said Thani. « We bided our time and it paid off for us and it’s great to get back in the victory column so quickly since Sharjah of last season. We were leading at the Grand Prix of Russia and want to finish the job this time around for sure in June. »
Thani now leads the drivers championship table with 29 points as the series now gets set to head off to St. Petersburg for the Grand Prix of Russia on the 4th and 6th of June.
The 30 minute event began with fastest qualifier Jay Price of the Qatar Team leading the field of drivers from 12 diferent countries off the start dock only to lose the lead in the first pin when both Team Abu Dhabi drivers of Al Hameli and Al Qamzi passed the World Champion. This began the start of a sour afternoon when he dropped out of third position with a broken engine on the seventh lap and parked his Qatar Team DAC boat just as Italian Fabio Comparato did the same as the 800 Doctor driver placed himself side by side to the New Orleans, Louisiana driver as the attrition rate started to climb on the very fast 1.85 kilometer course on the Arade River.
Finnish driver Sami Selio also ended his Mad Croc F1 Team Woodstock boat just outside turn three on the fifth lap leaving the 2007 World Champion with no points after the first weekend of the season.
Seven time winner of the Grand Prix of Portugal Guido Cappellini had more bad luck when a part broke stopping him on the seventh tour stretching his failure to finish for the sixth straight race as the nine-time World Champion is definately in a slump that started mid-way last season.
As the major players were having problems other drivers benefited including Italian Francesco Cantando of the Singha F1 Racing Team when the driver from Milan, Italy who started seventh pushed hard all afternoon ending with a second place finish and his second straight year with a top-3 in Portimao.
The feel good story of the day came from Portugal native Duarte Benavente who for the first time in his 11 year history reached the podium with a fine third place after qualifying seventh and reaching the podium for the first time since his third at the Grand Prix of Sardinia back in the 2004 campaign.
Englishman Andy Elliott who started at the end of the pontoon in 18th position came charging through the field and took fourth after coming out of a two year retirement as he raced in his 135th event of his career that spans over 25 years.
Pierre Lundinof Sweden was fifth for the China CTIC Team after qualifying 9th while rookie driver Daniele Martignoniof Italy was sixth in his Mad Croc F1 Team Woodstock machine.
Italian Leo Bonelliof the Qatar Team celebrated his 29th birthday with a seventh position after his two year return to the circuit with Marit Stromoyof Norway placing eighth ahead of her teammate Jonas Andersson who fell from second to ninth as his boat lost power on the last of the 44 laps for Team Azerbaijan.
Gaining the final point was Italian Marco Gambiwho drove a steady race to take his Singha F1 Team boat to tenth position.
The month of June will now be the next focus with back to back Grand Prix’s at St. Petersburg and Lahti, Finland. With two back to back victories for Team Abu Dhabi, will the trend continue or will the rest of the field now regroup and get ready the challenge the Emirates team for the next four races that will end the European stage of the 2009 U.I.M. F1 World Championship for power boating. Stay in the know with F1 H2O.