x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Emirati duo seek big break

Al Qamzi and Al Hameli in contention Victory in Abu Dhabi could set up title in Sharjah, the 'home' team's first since 2006

Team Abu Dhabi’s Hamed Al Hameli is chasing the Pole Position Championship this weekend.
Team Abu Dhabi’s Hamed Al Hameli is chasing the Pole Position Championship this weekend.

Team Abu Dhabi powerboat drivers Thani Al Qamzi and Ahmed Al Hameli can use home water advantage this weekend to set up a thrilling climax to the 2011 UIM F1 H20 World Championship.

Al Qamzi heads into Friday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix trailing his Qatar Team rival Jay Price by a mere 12 points in the drivers' championship and he is just nine points behind Alex Carella, the second Qatar driver.

But the Emirati duo are the in-form racers after their one-two finish in last month's Grand Prix of China on the Liu River in Liuzhou, and they have stormed into contention for honours after a disappointing start to the season.

"God willing, I will give it another try. If I can get a good result in Friday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, yes, it is possible." Al Qamzi said.

A maximum score of 20 points on his home course would set up the prospect of a title decider when the final event of the season is held in Sharjah on December 16.

Al Hameli, who is in fourth place in the standings, looks unlikely to be able to overhaul his three main rivals at the two remaining races, but he is only 10 points behind Carella in the Pole Position Championship, with a possible 40 at stake over the next two weekends.

And he is full of confidence after winning the recent Nations Cup in Singapore.

Team Abu Dhabi have not won the driver's title since Scott Gillman, the American, who is now the team manager, triumphed in 2006.

"Thani has been knocking on the door for a while and this could be his chance," Gillman said.

"It is a sport with a lot of uncertainties and with a bit of good fortune he may be able to do it this time.

"He has never stopped trying. In most cases, he was unlucky, with engine failures. It is the nature of the sport where a lot depends on the machines.

"We have done a lot of work on the boats but sometimes breakdowns are inevitable."

Al Qamzi bounced back into championship contention by leading the one-two finish in China where Price was disqualified.

However, the American driver still heads the points table on 67 with his Italian teammate Carella three behind. Al Qamzi is 55 points while Al Hameli has 35.

"It is indeed a very close race for the world title with my teammate, who is in great form, sitting behind me and with Thani not far behind," said Price, the 2008 winner of the championship series.

"Our boats are doing very well, but it is a difficult sport, and if we can come out without any mechanical problems, I think we have a very good chance to maintain it when we travel to Sharjah for the final round."

The race action gets underway at the Abu Dhabi Breakwaters with official practice, timed trials and the first of two F-4S races tomorrow.

Al Qamzi and Al Hameli will take to the course for the first practice session from 10.30am and will then feature in the race qualifications from 3pm.

apassela@thenational.ae