F2 Season kicks off in style in Klaipeda

The 2023 UIM F2 World Championship got underway this weekend in style in the Baltic Sea port of Klaipeda.

Following on from Saturday’s qualifying session the boats headed out for a 45 minute warm up session ahead of the Grand Prix Race. Where Brit Colin Jelf set the fastest lap time of the session with Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al Qemzi second fastest in the session and Norway’s Tobias Munthe-Kaas third fastest.

A change in weather conditions saw the competitors in for a rough ride during the evening’s 35 lap race. As the 18 boat fleet powered away from the pontoon Al Qemzi and Colin Jelf got flying starts and rounding the turn mark had clear water between themselves and Mansoor Al Mansoori and Stefan Arand in third and fourth place. Battles were hard fought throughout the fleet with every boat fighting for position and the best possible start to the World campaign.

17 laps subsided before Latvia’s Nikita Lijcs collided with a turn mark and saw him take the buoy for a ride around the course.

Five laps later and Portugal’s Duarte Benavente was forced to retire from the session.

As the race restarted Al Qemzi managed to keep Jelf in his mirrors whilst Al Mansoori and Stefan continued their battle until on lap 28 Al Mansoori barrel rolled out promoting Arand to third.

The race was finished under a yellow flag and as his team mate was recovered safely ashore, Rashed Al Qemzi sailed home to take the first win of the season. Jelf took second and Arand third until penalties and protests became part of the proceedings.

Race organisers that from 5th on the grid Colin Jelf had not maintained his racing line off the start and he was awarded a two place penalty that saw him relegated to 4th place.

Giacomo Sacchi protested the start and the maintaining of lanes. Whilst protests from Thomas Cermak and Owen Jelf also followed with turn buoys being destroyed during the race.

With jury meetings concluded the final results were published with the winner of the F2 Klaipeda Grand Prix and round 1 of the 2023 UIM World Championship going to Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al Qemzi, the silver Podium place went to F2 Rookie Stefan Arand after a fantastic race for the newcomer to the class and the Bronze Podium place went to Giacomo Sacchi.

Congratulations to all the Podium finishers and all the racers on some fantastic racing.

On taking the Podium top spot Rashed Al Qemzi commented “I am really happy to take the win the conditions were really rough out there and I am still getting used to the new boat. Each lap it felt better and I’m pleased with how it performs. I have to thank my team for their work and my radioman for helping me win.”

The Championship now moves to San Nazzaro on the 2nd & 3rd September.