The competition for the runner-up position in the Grand Prix of Sharjah, the final round of the 22nd edition of the UIM F1H2O World Championship, is heating up. Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, and Chairman of the Sharjah Executive Council, the event takes place at Khalid Lagoon from Dec.8-10.
Dutchman Ferdinand Zandbergen, captain of the Sharjah Team of Sharjah International Marine Sports Club (Boat Number 12), and the Swedish Erik Stark, captain of the Victory Team of Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) (Boat Number 4), aim to secure 20 points by winning the Grand Prix of Sharjah to clinch the runner-up title.
This follows the captain of Team Sweden, the Swedish Jonas Andersson’s (Boat Number 14) championship victory after winning the last three rounds, competing in Sharjah with a 24-point lead over his closest rival, Zandbergen.
Strong chancesWith 39 points, Ferdinand, and Stark, with 35 points, have strong chances to claim their first victory in the 22nd edition.
Ferdinand, initially failing to score in Indonesia, swiftly recovered with second place in France and third in China and Italy in the last four rounds. Stark secured third in Indonesia, slipping to fourth in China and fifth in both France and Italy.
Ferdinand and Stark’s ambitions collide with Andersson’s goal of maintaining his title secured in the previous Grand Prix of Sharjah.
This challenge is daunting given Andersson’s strong performance this season, topping the chart by winning in China, France, and Italy despite a stumbling start in Indonesia.
Sharjah boats chasing the team titleThe Sharjah Team, led by the Finnish Sami Selio and Zandbergen, targets the “UIM F1H2O World Championship” team title. Relying on fan support at Khalid Lagoon, they face a tough task with an 11-point difference behind Team Sweden. To win the Team World Championship, they must secure first and second positions in the Grand Prix of Sharjah, raising their points to 89, regardless of Team Sweden’s results.
Earlier, Abu Dhabi confirmed that both Shaun Torrente and Rashed Al Qemzi will race alongside Thani Al Qamzi in a three-boat team at the Grand Prix of Sharjah on Dec.8-10.
Torrente is the defending UIM F1H2O World Champion and missed the last round in Sardinia because of a yellow card one-race suspension.
But the Florida driver heads back to Khalid Lagoon just under 12 months after wrapping up a third world title in dramatic fashion, having retired from the race and discovered he’d won from the pits when Team Sweden’s Jonas Andersson ground to a halt within sight of the chequered flag.
Qemzi will be competing in his third F1H2O race of the season. He replaced Thani Al Qamzi to finish seventh at the Grand Prix of China in Zhengzhou and was classified 10th in Sardinia.
This year he has already claimed a fourth UIM F2 World Championship title with victories in Klaipeda and San Nazarro and a second place in Peso da Regua.
He rounded off his F2 season with a win in Vila Velha de Rodao in Portugal in late September. Torrente has suffered his fair share of bad luck this season and holds seventh in the Drivers’ Championship, following ninth place in Indonesia, second in China and his disqualification in France.
After taking a clean sweep of all four trophies in 2022, Team Abu Dhabi is struggling to add any silverware to the cabinet this year.
Torrente still has an outside chance of winning the Pole Position Trophy but the team operating out of the Abu Dhabi Marine Sports Club (ADMSC) will need sensational driver performances and results to go their way if they are going to retain the Teams’ Championship.
Qamzi will make his 151st career F1H2O race start in Sharjah and will be hoping to secure a 45th career podium. His last victory came in Olbia last season and the Emirati veteran is overdue a race win.
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