Not since the 2015 season has one driver secured pole position at every round of the UIM F2 World Championship, that was until today when Rashed Al Qemzi produced a stunning lap to seize that all important advantage for tomorrows Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi.
It had looked for a while that Owen Jelf would claim the top spot when he posted a time of 45:76 seconds around the 1.9-kilometre course. The highly experience British driver, who finished on the top step of the podium when he last raced here back in 2004 had been quick in all the practice sessions and not even the likes of Tobias Munthe-Kaas or Stefan Hagin could dislodge Jelf during the top ten ‘Shoot-Out’.
This has been a year of test after test after test
finally we are seeing the ‘fruits of our labour’ and we now have a competitive, well balanced BaBa hull to race with.
Jelf’s chance of pole position soon evaporated though like an ice cube in the warm Abu Dhabi sunshine after Duarte Benavente arrived on the circuit and posted a 45:59 lap time. Up until the ‘Shoot-Out’ the Portuguese racer had been one of only three drivers to post a sub 46 seconds lap time.
For me the goal is that Silver medal for second place in the World Championship and now we are one step closer
We are not at the Team Abu Dhabi level yet, but we are getting closer. If I’m being honest, well then I’m not surprised how quick Al Qemzi is but I’m also sure it’s not the first time he’s been around this circuit.
For Al Qemzi though it wasn’t all ‘plain sailing’ as the new World Champion made a mistake in the first lap of his ‘Shoot-Out’ and nearly came to grief after the right-hand turn mark. He quickly settled back into a rhythm and posted a 45:13 on his second lap to finish the day top of the time sheets.
Paying tribute to his Team Abu Dhabi mechanics Al Qemzi was quick to acknowledge the effort they had put in so that he was one step closer to winning a Grand Prix in his home waters.
This time last week another well known nearly crowned World Champion had arrived in Abu Dhabi, claimed pole position and went on to dominate the Grand Prix, can history repeat itself here in the United Arab Emirates?