Team Abu Dhabi has a new weapon and his name is Ahmad Al Hameli as the young driver from Abu Dhabi came up with a flying lap of a 42.94 second time to take his first ever career pole position and will lead the field of 22 drivers for tomorrow's 10th Annual Grand Prix of Portugal. Cappellini and Andersson to start second and third.
Team Abu Dhabi Al Hameli earns 1st Pole - 10th Annual Grand Prix of Portugal, U.I.M. F1 World Championship
The late afternoon top-six shootout, that features drivers with the best times in two previous qualifying sessions going solo on the water for two laps each, saw the water conditions change dramatically in the half hour session. The first driver Thani Al Qamzi teammate to Al Hameli struggled to maintain his boat in the rough condition and managed only a 47.20 compared to 15 minutes later when Ahmad took to the course and set his pole sitting time around the 1.66 kilometer 7 pin course on the Arade River.
'My BABA boat ran perfectly in these conditions and I felt very comfortable in my run,' stated the 29 year old. 'Now I have to not only beat Guido Cappellini off the dock tomorrow but my teammate Thani as well. We'll see, I'm very excited about earning my first pole postion today after only 12 race starts.'
Italian Guido Cappellini of the Tamoil Team did his best to push the Abu Dhabi driver to the limit in his first outing in his brand new DAC hull which he just finished building days ago. His 44.05 second lap was a strong performance and now he chases his unbelieveable 8th win in 10 starts here in Portimao.
World points leader Jonas Andersson of F1 Team Sweden came on strong considering he had a series of engine problems early and took a fine 3rd position with a 44.84 second lap as he looks for his first podium in Portugal in his third start.
Fourth starter off the dock will by Al Qamzi looking for his first victory in Portugal and his first of the season, while American Jay Price of the Qatar Team will begin 5th with a disappointing 47.80 time running in the rough chop and struggling with handling problems that only got worst as the day went on in his new DAC boat. Price, second in the championship is hoping for his second straight podium in Portgual.
Australian David Trask of the Trask Brothers Racing effort had a problem with his boat that couldn't be cured in time for the shootout but still made an appearance running slowly and finishing with a 1:02.81 second lap ready to push tomorrow from the sixth position.
Defending World Champion Sami Selio crashed out late in the second qualifying session doing his best to reach the shootout and now will start 7th with a 45.34 second lap. Starting 8th will be French driver Philippe Chiappe of the Atlantic Team five positions in front of his teammate and local hero Duarte Benavente who is in 13th position in his Dragon boat looking for his second career podium at his home course.
Italian Fabio Comparato in his new BABA built boat ran a confident 9th place in qualifying for the 800 Doctor Team while fellow Italian Massimo Roggiero rounds out the top 10 with a 45.70 second lap chasing his fourth career victory.
Tomorrow morning at 11:00 local time their will be a special press meeting to introduce the new 'black box' technology instituting the 'Tiwi' that has been installed in each boat that records crash results and helps in the analyses of these to help make this sport safer at the same time.
Twenty-two drivers from 12 different nations are ready to take to the water on the always challenging Arade River in picturesque Portimao on the Algarve coast for the second round of the U.I.M. F1 World Championship for power boating and the 10th Annual Grand Prix of Portugal Sunday at 14:00 local, GMT and 09:00 EDT in the Eastern time zone in North America.
You can follow the race lap by lap by going to the www.f1boat.com website and receive up to date comments from David Sewell to add to the flavor.