SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates – Thursday, December 10, 2009 – Defending World ChampionJay Price of the Qatar Team made a statement today, winning as predicted and now forcing his rivalsGuido Cappellini of theZepter Team and Thani Al Qamzi of Team Abu Dhabito put everything on the line at tomorrow’s 16th and final event of the U.I.M. F1 H2O World Championship at the 10th Annual Grand Prix of Sharjah.
The race which is a 2.2 kilometer six turn course along the corniche on the Khaled Lagoon, will determine the title between the three drivers beginning tomorrow afternoon at 15:50 local, 11:50 GMT and 06:50 Eastern Standard Time on the East Coast of North America.
“We have a solid chance of coming from behind and taking all the marbles before this one is over,” said the American who gave his country their 50th Grand Prix win. “We need to win again and hope Guido finishes lower than seventh and we win the title. I know it sounds far fetched, but Scott Gillman did it in 2006 and Sami in 2007, so we need to keep on “keepin on” to get back to back titles by sunset tomorrow night.”
Meanwhile, Team Abu Dhabi completed another sweep of a pair of top five positions with Al Qamzi and his teammate Ahmad Al Hameli ending the afternoon in fourth and fifth positions and pushing their team to unsermountable 212 points and officially winning the very prestidgous Team Title for 2009. Full credit must go the four-time World Champion Scott Gillman as Team Manager and the club itself and their dedication to the sport.With one race to be run Team Abu Dhabi is 56 points ahead of the Zepter Team with the third place Qatar Team holding down 145 points.
Jay Price, has been red-hot as of late and has won two straight and been on the podium the last three races since arriving a week ago in Abu Dhabi. His 8.89 second victory took away the title hopes of two drivers including second place finisher Sami Selio in his Mad Croc sponsored BABA boat who needed a victory to have any chance in pushing his hopes for the final day tomorrow. The driver from Helsinki, has had a satisfying campaign with a pair of victories and seven pole positions setting a modern day record for most poles in a single season.
Jonas Andersson of Team Azerbaijan started seventh and also needed a victory but picked up just five points in the sixth finishing position dropping him behind Selio in the points to fifth with 109 on the season. His two victories in St. Petersburg, Russia and Liuzhou, China have been the highlights of his season thus far.
There is still a solid chance for the host country to crown their first native driver tomorrow as well with Thani Al Qamzi coming home fourth and just 13 points behind Cappellini. Thani needs a win or a second place with Guido finishing lower than fifth to capture the crown if the Qatar Team driver doesn’t finish in front of him.
Ahmad Al Hameli, Thani’s teammate, came home a sold fifth giving room for his teammate to slide by late in the race while picking up seven points himself and pushing up two positions in the championship from ninth to seventh at days end. Ahmad has scored points in his last four straight events and still has a shot for sixth with a win at the last race of the season.
Norwegian woman driver Marit Stromoy had her fourth seventh place finish of the season in her Norges Automaten.com sponsored Team Azerbaijan boat. She finished just in front of Italian Marco Gambi in his Singha F1 Team hull in his best finish of the season in eighth position.
Earning his first ever F1 points of his career was rookie Rinaldo Osculati who came home ninth in hisMad Croc F1 Team Woodstock boat since joining the tour back in August in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Picking up the final point was Swedish driver Pierre Lundin who had a heart breaking stop with just a few laps ago fighting for sixth place with fellow Swede Andersson before having his engine let go in the final moments of the race after starting down in the fourteenth position.
Maybe missing from the race tomorrow because of a tremendous get together down on the final turn leading towards the start finish line on the opening lap will be French driver Philippe Chiappe who had qualified fifth and got tied up with Italian Francesco Cantando in his Blaze boat. Both hulls were damaged beyond repair for tomorrow and both are hoping to get some help to make the field for Friday’s final event of the season.
So, here we go, the last day of racing, as the 2009 U.I.M. F1 H2O season which started the first week in April in sunny Portimao in Portugal and seven venues later and 13 races in the record books we now come down to the most important one.
A nine-time World Champion, who has struggled for three years to earn his tenth, in Italian Guido Cappellini leading by 13 points over native son Thani Al Qamzi of Abu Dhabi who would just love to put the UAE nation on their feet with his first title. Finally, Qatar Team’s Jay Price trying to become the first American driver ever to win back to back titles.