Team Abu Dhabi’s bid to recapture four world powerboat racing titles gets under way in Lithuania next week as Rashed Al Qemzi launches his challenge for a third UIM F2 triumph in five years.
It will be Al Qemzi’s first taste of world championship action since he rounded off a triumphant 2019 F2 campaign with victory on home waters in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 18 months ago.
Prevented from defending his world title last year by the pandemic, the Emirati driver is raring to go again after an extensive testing programme in the UAE capital alongside new team-mate, Mansoor Al Mansoori.
After succeeding Al Qemzi as F4-S world champion in 2017, Al Mansoori scored two top ten finishes in the 2019 F2 series.
The duo are doing further testing on Lake Maggiore in San Nazzaro, Italy this week under the guidance of Team Abu Dhabi manager, Guido Cappellini, with the full backing of Abu Dhabi Sports Council.
Victorious in Lithuania two years ago, Al Qemzi retains his 2019 boat for the opening round in Kupiškis while Al Mansoori has a new boat for the 2021 series.
Cappellini, who has delivered 11 world titles to Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club, is again pursuing a quadruple target after claiming the F1H2O drivers’ and team world crowns in 2019 along with the world endurance and F2 championships.
Al Qemzi dominated the 2019 F2 series, following up his Lithuanian success with victories in Italy and Portugal to clinch the title with one round to spare and commented on this season:
We have had a good month of testing in Abu Dhabi and we’re ready. The important thing is to look at conditions when we get there, prepare well and pick the right prop.
A 21-strong entry list in Kupiškis is headed by defending world champion, Duarte Benavente, and includes home favourite Edgaras Riabko, who finished runner-up to the Portuguese driver in last year’s race.
The event is being held on a Lithuanian national holiday, with Sunday’s practice being followed by the pole position qualifier on Monday and the Grand Prix on Tuesday.