x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Tide turns on al Qamzi's title fortunes

Thani al Qamzi enjoyed better fortunes to take a third-placed finish behind the runaway winner Jonas Andersson to keep his world title ambitions intact after the second of the back-to-back races in Liuzhou, China.

Team Abu Dhabi's Ahmad al Hameli has slipped to sixth in the standings .
Team Abu Dhabi's Ahmad al Hameli has slipped to sixth in the standings .

Thani al Qamzi enjoyed better fortunes to take a third-placed finish behind the runaway winner Jonas Andersson to keep his world title ambitions intact after the second of the back-to-back races in Liuzhou, China, yesterday. The Team Abu Dhabi's Emirati driver lost his overall lead, a mere two points behind Andsersson, but drew 22 points clear of the third-placed Jay Price, the defending champion, who was forced to retire because of engine related problems when racing in second.

"It's obviously disappointing to lose the lead in the championship, but I am pleased to be back on the podium after the disappointment the other day," said al Qamzi, who did not complete the race on Tuesday after suffering engine problems. "There are still eight races to go and plenty of time to get the lead back. Jonas has overtaken me, but Jay failed to win a point from the two starts and that played a little into my hands. In this sport, we never know what to expect next."

Anderson collected maximum points to move from fifth to first for the first time in the race series, taking his tally to 79 points. The Swede, who started behind the Finn Sami Selio on the grid, swept to the lead from the first bend, and then held on to win from the nine times Italian world champion Guido Cappellini, who moved to fifth in the championship ahead of the Team Abu Dhabi's second driver Ahmad al Hameli.

Al Hameli was racing in fourth until his boat stalled four laps left in the race. He said: "It was two disappointing days for me. But I'm happy for Thani as he was back on the points. I just hope he can continue to pile on the points from the next two races in Shenzhen in 10 days. "And as for me, I'll have to put my frustration behind me and try to claw back to the championship reckoning. I am still hopeful with the eight races left, and that's quite a lot with 20 points for a win."

Al Hameli had to start from the back of the 18-boat field following engine problems during qualifying. Al Qamzi started eighth, but the two Emiratis gradually moved up to race in sixth and seventh, and later moved into third and fourth spots after Selio and Price dropped out with engine problems. The world race series moves to the next venue in China, Shenzhen on October 17 and 18, and then returns for the final "Gulf swing" starting with the Qatar grand prix on November 27 and 28, Abu Dhabi (December 4 and 5) and the final two races in Sharjah in the following week.

@Email:apassela@thenational.ae