Sharjah: It was a premature parade of world champions as Emma-Nellie Ortendahl, Kevin Reiterer and Rashid Al Mulla all wrapped up their coveted crowns at the Grand Prix of Sharjah — the final stop on the 2019 UIM-ABP Aquabikes World Championship on Wednesday.
Needing just a win in the opening moto on Wednesday morning, Ortendahl and Reiterer proved their seasonal superiority for their third world title, while Al Mulla assured himself of a successful defence of his crown with yet another dominant performance in the Freestyle category.
Unbeaten since 2016, Team Abu Dhabi’s Al Mulla took his winning run to 23 motos across nine Grands Prix with another two top-of-the-table finishes in the Freestyle category.
The biggest upset of the day was when Runabout category leader Andrzej Wisniewski slipped down the order as he ended fourth in the first moto and then was disqualified in the second moto to hand over leadership to Denmark’s Marcus Jorgensen.
However, much of the limelight was on the youngsters — Victory Team’s 26-year-old rider Reiterer and 21-year-old Ortendahl, who is reportedly set to join Team Abu Dhabi in the near future. Reiterer has won all but one of the motos this season — a second place in Olbia denying him full points.
Ortendahl, on the other hand, has a unique record as she has a maximum 275 points from 11 motos so far. A win in Friday’s third and final moto on Khalid Lagoon will hand the Swedish rider 300 points — something that is seldom achieved in aquabike racing.
“I’ve had things just perfect for me this season. My dad [Mats] has been a great source of inspiration and a true pillar of strength to me,” Ortendahl told Gulf News.
“The feeling of winning a third world title is truly unique and I am very excited about the future,” she added.
Victory Team’s Reiterer promised to raise the bar even higher after his third world title. Needing just one point to seal the crown, Reiterer won both the motos on Wednesday for a maximum 50 points to take an unbeatable lead at the top. The 26-year-old Austrian now leads with 272 points, a clear 88 points away from the Norwegian pairing of Daniel Svae Andersen (184) and Stian Schjetlein (163) with one final moto to go on Friday evening.
“My first thoughts are that of being grateful to such a fantastic team like Victory, not just for trusting me but for showing true dedication in backing me at each step along the way to success,” Reiterer said.
“There are a lot of excellent riders out there and I will need to raise the bar for myself so that I can be prepared for any challenges in the future. For the moment, the idea would be to sign off on a high.”
Reiterer signed for the Dubai-based Victory Team last season, and has since picked up two world titles during the couple of seasons that he’s been with them. Earlier this year, Victory Team renewed his contract for a further two years wherein the Austrian will continue both as rider while heading the team’s development programme to train young Emirati riders.
The third and final moto will be held from 2pm on Friday followed by the presentation of trophies to the new world champions.
Ski Men GP1: 1. Kevin Reiterer (Austria) 272 points; 2. Daniel Svae Andersen (Norway) 184; Stian Schjetlein (Norway) 163; 4. Barnabas Szabo (Hungary) 158; 5. Axel Courtois (France) 156
Ski Ladies GP1: 1. Emma-Nellie Ortendahl (Sweden) 275 points; 2. Jonna Borgstrom (Sweden) 220; 3. Estelle Poret (France) 206); 4. Jasmin Ypraus (Estonia) 187; 5. Sofie Borgstrom (Sweden) 175
Runabout GP1: 1. Marcus Jorgensen (Denmark) 140 points; 2. Jeremy Perez (France) 134; 3. Samuel Johansson (Sweden) 133; 4. Andrzej Wisniewski (Poland) 122; 5. Yousuf Al Abdul Razzaq (Kuwait) 105
Freestyle: 1. Rashid Al Mulla (UAE) 200 points; 2. Roberto Mariani (Italy) 170; 3. Sergey Chemezov (Russia) 151; 4. Jaroslav Tirner (Czech Republic) 148; 5. Paulo Nunes (Portugal) 117.