ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Saturday, December 5, 2009 – Defending World ChampionJay Price of the Qatar Team scored his third victory of the season and his sixth of his career and moved himself back into the 2009 U.I.M. F1 H2O World Championship picture with his 12.68 second victory at the 17th Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in front of tens of thousands of race fans along the corneiche in front of downtown Abu Dhabi.
The American flew off at the start and moved past Finnish driver Sami Selio of the Mad Croc sponsored boat that had just set a new record of seven pole positions in one season, but as Selio was dropping back into third place with Guido Cappellini moving from third into second and charging. A lap later however a tremendous two boat accident at the right hand turn just past the start-finish line between Swedish drivers Pierre Lundin and Jonas Andersson brought out the yellow flag and forced a re-start.
Both drivers in the accident were uninjured and the officials moved the field back into their original qualifying positions with Selio once again leading the field. On the re-start, Selio tore off into a four second lead with Price in second and Cappellini already in trouble eventually slipping back to the 12th position before crashing out with British rookie Malcolm Goodman of the Qatar Team on the 13th lap. Selio would lead the race until on the 23rd tour his engine broke ending his chance to move closer to the championship lead and handing the race to Price which he held on to the end on the 37th lap.
“It was a great weekend for us in the Qatar Team,” said Jay. “We picked up 35 of the 40 possible points and now have jumped from fifth to third in the points chase with 105 and trail Guido by 24 points with 40 still to be earned so we are still hopeful and are on a roll emotionally as well. We can’t wait to get to Sharjah where I’ve had a history of bad luck that I want to change this year.”
Jay’s win coupled with four of his opponents misfortunes that were ahead of him in the standings closed up the championship picture with Cappellini still leading with 129 points and Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al Qamzi who had the heartbreaking stoppage down in turn seven on the 20th lap picking up no points but still second in the championship with 119.
Andersson is now fourth with 104 points, one behind Price with Selio dropping down to fifth with 100 the last who have a mathematical chance to win the title in Sharjah.
Finishing second was home driver Amad Al Hameli when the Abu Dhabi native put in a solid run finishing just over 12 seconds behind the winner and 16 seconds ahead of French driver Philippe Chiappe who reached the podium for the fourth time this season and now seventh in the championship with 82 points in his best season of his career in his Moore boat for the Atlantic Team.
Fabio Comparato held off fellow Italian Francesco Cantando by less than a second with Fabio winning the fourth place battle as he sits ninth with 71 points while Francesco who made a miraculous recovery from a 180 degree airborne spin finished sixth with 86 points.
Portugal driver Duarte Benavente in the Interpass sponsored Dragon hull earned a well placed sixth on the day with Norwegian woman driver Marit Stromoy finishing seventh for the third time the season in her Team Azerbaijan boat while sitting now 12th in the championship table.
Italian Valerio Lagiannella picked up points for the fourth time this season with his eighth place in his800 Doctor DAC hull. Ninth went to another Italian Marco Gambi in his Singha F1 Team boat for his fifth top ten performance of the year.
The final points paying position went to German driver Fabian Kalsow in his China CTIC Team boat as he sits 13th in the championship going into the final weekend of the season.
So, with the top four point leading drivers failing to pick up points today, Jay Price hopes he can carry his momentum in Sharjah as the tour now moves to Sharjah and the 10th race in it’s history. The 15th round of the 2009 U.I.M. F1 H2O World Championship scheduled for next Thursday, December 10th along the Corniche of downtown Sharjah on one of the longest race courses on the calendar at 2.235 kilometers.
Many championship dreams have turned to nightmares for some while miracles have come to others. Sharjah, where championships are made. All next week for a guaranteed exciting conclusion to the 2009 season.