For the first time this season and for the third time on the Khaled Lagoon in 14 previous starts, local driver Thani Al Qamzi won the fourteenth Grand Prix of Sharjah to wrap up the closing race of the 2012 UIM F1 H2O World Championship tour in front of thousands of spectators on a cloudless late afternoon on the edge of the Gulf.
Al Thani Qamzi of UAE of the Team Abu Dhabi at UIM F1 H2O Grand Prix of Sharjah
The Team Abu Dhabi driver beat out 19 other competitors from 13 different countries around the difficult six turn 2.235 kilometer (1.38 mile) race circuit closing the season with 60 points and tying with Finnish driver Sami Selio for third place in the Drivers Championship.
'It was a great day for our team and I dedicated the day to my missing teammate Ahmed Al Hameli who continues to fight his illness and who in the worst way wants to come back racing next season as we all hope he will,' said Thani.
'I love racing here and at the same time, I stopped my seven race winless streak. Now I can get back to a good way as I plan for the 2013 season that will be starting once again in the spring.'
As Thani adds to his career win total of seven victories in 102 starts, his victory here marks the third time on top of the podium after victories in 2006 and 2008 making this the fifth time in eight years Team Abu Dhabi has come here to capture the victory flag.
SHARJAH-UAE Al Thani Qamzi of UAE of the Team Abu Dhabi at UIM F1 H2O Grand Prix of Sharjah in the Khalid Lagoon, December 6-7, 2012. Picture by Vittorio Ubertone/Idea Marketing.
Coming home in second was the fast rising star of rookie Terry Rinker of the Qatar Team as the veteran driver from America who owns six North American titles charged hard on Thani's heals all day and set the fast lap of the race with a 50.30 second tour and coming up short by just 2.09 seconds after 33 laps.
'It was a wonderful experience coming here in filling in as a driver for the outstanding Qatar Team,' said the Floridian.
'I am overjoyed with the drive and working with so many fellows I know back home including my radioman and old partner in Brendan Power. We are like 'meat and potatoes' after being together for so many years. Just like silk. Got the job done and had fun doing it at the same time. That's what it is all about.'
Taking the final place on the podium is 2000 winner Francesco Cantando of the Singha Team who charged from eighth to third right from the start and stayed there for all 33 laps. The driver from Milan was 5.02 seconds back of Al Qamzi at the end of the day taking home 12 more duck-its and finishing sixth overall in the championship with 38 points.
Fourth went to an ever battling Swedish driver Jonas Andersson, who in his Danish boat for Team Sweden got around Selio in the Mad Croc machine late in the event to gather up nine points and finish seventh overall in the championship with 26 points.
SHARJAH-UAE Jonas Andersson of Sweden of Team Sweden at UIM F1 H2O Grand Prix of Sharjah in the Khalid Lagoon, December 6-7, 2012. Picture by Vittorio Ubertone/Idea Marketing.
SHARJAH-UAE Sami Selio of Finland of Mad Croc Team at UIM F1 H2O Grand Prix of Sharjah in the Khalid Lagoon, December 6-7, 2012. Picture by Vittorio Ubertone/Idea Marketing.
Selio, who had pole position just couldn't keep his speed up, for the two time winner of this event back in 2007 and 2009, settling for fifth ending the season with 60 points and tying Al Qamzi for third when the day was done. His remarkable recovery from injuries from an accident a year ago in China makes this one of the 'feel good' stories of the season.
French driver Philippe Chiappe had a steady run and did just enough to secure a well earned second place in the Drivers Championship with 62 points while finishing sixth in the race 10.33 seconds back. It was his worst result of the season but his consistent races and three podiums gave him his best career finish in his ten years of racing F1.
Hall-of-Fame driver Scott Gillman, who owns four world titles, was placed back into service running for the depleted Team Abu Dhabi squad finishing seventh after starting 11th on the grid. The American, who spends most of his time at the racing Team Manager, drove at a steady pace finishing with four points and 16th in the drivers points chase was in his second race of the season and his third in five years.
Marit Stromoy of Norway was eighth for Team Nautica 15.42 seconds from the leader and claiming three points on the day and taking 13th overall with eight total points for 2012.
Rookie youngster Filip Roms, who at 18 years old is the youngest driver to ever race F1, came home a nice ninth for two points. The Mad Croc driver claiming a tie for 11th in the championship along with suspended driver Shaun Torrente of the Qatar Team who had to sit out the final two events of the year for the Florida driver who had earned a pole position in Kazan, Russia.
Rounding out the top ten and helping his new team to record their first ever championship point was Italian Ivan Brigada of the Caudwell Team from South Africa. The new concept for F1 racing got a much needed shot in the arm with the one time winner on the tour eventually taking 20th in the drivers title.
Notable retirees were new F1 World Champion Alex Carella of the Qatar Team. The 27 year-old started 18th because of engine problems in morning warm-up, got up to 11th in the race and eventually dropped out on the 14th lap.
SHARJAH-UAE Alex Carella of Italy of F1 Qatar Team at UIM F1 H2O Grand Prix of Sharjah in the Khalid Lagoon, December 6-7, 2012. Picture by Vittorio Ubertone/Idea Marketing.
The Italian finished the season with 79 points and 17 ahead of Chiappe at the end of the day.
Another World Champion, Jay Price, who had qualified as high as third dropped quickly down to 10th with steering problems. He later would get caught up in traffic and got tagged by another driver and retired on the 20th lap for the New Orleans, Louisiana driver racing for local team Skydive Dubai.
A total of 20 drivers recorded points during the season with participants from 15 different nations taking part on the 10 month worldwide UIM F1 H2O World Championship for powerboating. Expect the new 2013 campaign to kick off in the springtime with new venues and excitement to match.
SHARJAH-UAE Brett Stuart of South Africa of Caudwell Racing at UIM F1 H2O Grand Prix of Sharjah in the Khalid Lagoon, December 6-7, 2012. Picture by Vittorio Ubertone/Idea Marketing.