The teams of the UIM F1 H20 World Championship are rolling into the paddock area that is encompassed by the pristine area around the city of Abu Dhabi whilst two things begin to emerge as story lines for this provisional round of the championship that will run this Friday at 15:30 (11:30 GMT).
First off, this will be a battle with a rivalry that is growing more and more intense by the race between Team Abu Dhabi and their neighbors to the West the Qatar Team.
The Qatar organization has a very talented duo of drivers in World Championship points leader Jay Price and young Italian teammate Alex Carella. Price has 67 points and a pair of victories in Doha and again in Portimao, Portugal while Carella is just three points back with 64 and has won in Kazan, Russia.
The Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) who dominated the first two thirds of the season now have a strong rival in Team Abu Dhabi who enter this weekend’s Grand Prix having taken the last two events including a strong one-two finish in Liuzhou, China back in October.
Veteran driver Thani Al Qamzi, who is in his 11th season with his home standing team, has finished all five previous races. His win in China moves him to within 12 points of tying for the championship lead with Price, still 40 points up for grabs before the season ends on the 16th of December in nearby Sharjah.
History, however, hasn't been kind to Al Qamzi and his teammate Ahmed Al Hameli, who also has a victory this year in Kiev, Ukraine and sits tied for fourth in the championship with 35 points and out of the championship picture.
'There is nothing we can do about the past,' said Ahmed when asked about his non-winning streak. 'I won't be thinking about this when we get in the boats for the first time this Thursday. We just need to focus on a victory and nothing else since this season is coming to an end quickly and we have to do well here or else.'
In fifteen previous starts between the drivers neither has ever scored a victory with five combined podiums between the two. Thani Al Qamzi knows that he desperately needs at least to have a podium finish to have any shot at his first World Championship when the sun sets Friday evening.
The sixth race of the 2011 UIM F1 H2O World Championship and the 20th Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi sets sail beginning on Thursday with qualifying and the battle for pole position at 15:00 local and 11:00 GMT.
Race day on Friday has the Grand Prix starting at 15:30 local and 11:30 GMT. Both official qualifying and the Grand Prix can be seen by going to the UIM F1 H2O official website