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Pharaon wins as tragedy strikes

Italy's Guido Cappellini won his seventh UIM World Championship for Formula One Powerboats as tragedy struck the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix yesterday.

Gulf News

Italy's Guido Cappellini won his seventh UIM World Championship for Formula One Powerboats as tragedy struck the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix yesterday.

Italian pilot Vincenzo Polli, the nephew of Italian textile magnate and Class One Offshore champion Eduardo Polli, was killed following an unfortunate accident with another boat that forced the organisers to call off the race after 23 of 60 scheduled laps.

Saudi Arabia's Laith Pharaon was declared the winner. Cappellini retired on the 17th lap, protesting that the circuit was not safe as the sun's reflection prevented the drivers from having a clear vision of the course.

Some of the other drivers, seemingly unaware of Polli's accident, were unhappy when the organisers called off the race.

American Scott Gillman, the captain of the UAE F1 Team, said: "Everyone has been racing on the same track for the past eleven years and none of them claimed that the sun was hindering their vision or the circuit was dangerous. Why this time?"

Italian Francesco Cantando also felt that the conditions were perfect and there was no threat to the safety of the pilots.

"Abu Dhabi has always been one of my favourite sites for the past six years. The organisation is always excellent and they have always been keen to secure maximum safety procedures," he said.

The rescue team retrieving the body of Vincenzo Polli.
Nicolo De San Germano, the UIM International Promoter, defended the decision to call off the race when they were alerted of the accident involving Polli and Jari Honkala of Denmark on the 12th lap of the race.

As the injured drivers were rushed to hospital and the ambulances did not return to the site it was unable to start the race.

While accidents are regarded as part of life on the fast lanes of the F1 circuits, Polli has been accident prone this season making no less than six in nine rounds.

The participating boats, after the accident, were following the jet ski of the officials around the track waiting for the green flag. But the red flag was hoisted and the race was called off.

"We have to call off the race as some of the pilots have complained of bad vision. We cannot afford to have any accident." Mohammed Sanad Al Qubeissi, the Director of hosts Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club, told reporters.

Cappellini winning the World Championship.
Pharaon who won Abu Dhabi Grand Prix yesterday was followed by Cantando in second place and Frenchman Philippe Dessertenne in 3rd.

Massimo Roggiero of Italy was 4th, Briton Andy Elliott 5th, Italian Fabio Comparato 6th, Gillman 7th, the UAE's Thani Al Qamzy 8th, Finn Michael Weckstrom 9th and Dane Gert Ladefoged 10th.

Cappellini won the world title with 130 points. He was followed by Pharaon 89, Dessertenne 79, Roggiero 78 and Gillman 64.

Cappellini's previous world titles came in 1993, '94, '95, '96, 99 and 2001. For Gillman, a champion in 2000 and 1997, it was his worst season ever.

Pharaon, who was a champion in the Offshore categories in the past, said that he does not regard his victory as ideal as it came after the race was called off. But he said that having finished the season in second place he was looking forward to achieving better results next year.

Final classifications:
1. Laith Pharaon (SAU) DAC/MER TEAM GREEN 23 laps 32:02.45
2. Francesco Cantando (ITA) WWS/MER SINGHA 23 laps 32.05.64
3. Philippe Dessertenne (FRA) DAC/MER CHARENTE MARITIME 23 laps 32:15.14
4. Massimo Roggiero (ITA) DAC/MER ZEPTER-BIOPTRON 23 laps 32:15.85
5. Andy Elliott (GBR) KRB/MER PREMIER PIPELINE 23 laps 32:17.99
6. Fabio Comparato (ITA) DAC/MER NAUTICA COMPARATO 23 laps 32:24.91
7. Scott Gillman (USA) SEB/MER EMIRATES MARINA MALL 23 laps 32:33.37
8. Tany Al Qamzi (UAE) ABU/MER EMIRATES MARINA MALL 23 laps 32:47.10
9. Michael Weckstrom (FIN) MOL/MER VIVID VELDEN 23 laps 32.48.53
10. Gert Ladefoged (DEN) DAC/MER LINDAB PRISMA 23 laps 32:53.09

Final classification UIM F1 World Championship
1. Guido Cappellini (ITA) 130 points
2. Laith Pharaon (SAU) 79 points
3. Massimo Roggiero (ITA) 73,5 points
4. Philippe Dessertenne (FRA) 73 points
5. Scott Gillman (USA) 62 points
6. Fabio Comparato (ITA) 48,5 points
7. Francesco Cantando (ITA) 40,5 points
8. Duarte Benavente (POR) 36 points
9. Ivan Torta (ITA) 34 points
10 Fabrizio Bocca (ITA) 27 points.