Team Abu Dhabi are on the verge of another double triumph in the UIM World Circuit Endurance Championships after a dominant display on Lake Necko in Poland.
The team’s two all-Emirati crews were in a class of their own in the first of two back-to-back six-hour races making up the Necko Endurance, with Rashed Al Qemzi, Thani Al Qemzi and Mansoor Al Mansoori clocking up 263 laps in taking Abu Dhabi 1 to victory.
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The combination of Rashed Al Tayer, Majed Al Mansoori, Rashed Al Remeithi and Mohammad Al Mehairbi in Abu Dhabi 2 were just three laps away in securing second place.
Finishing a distant third, the French crew of Quentin Octau, Jean Alexandre and Camille Broutechoux together completed just 198 laps.
It means that Team Abu Dhabi are in a powerful position to repeat their success in Augustow two years ago when they won both races to clinch a one-two world championship success.
The championship had been scheduled to reach its conclusion in October at the 24 Hours of Rouen, where Team Abu Dhabi scored victory two years ago on their way to the world title.
But the French event was postponed until next May as the crews were arriving in Poland, so the 2021 world champions will be crowned in Augustow on Sunday following the second six-hour episode on Lake Necko.
To duplicate their 2019 achievement, Team Abu Dhabi must avoid any mechanical failures or major mistakes, and the intricacies of endurance racing means they can taking nothing for granted.
They had anticipated a strong challenge in Poland from a member of their 2019 world title winning crew, Italian Tullio Abbate, who has joined forces with Norway’s top F1H20 lady driver Marit Stromoy, Monaco’s Giacomo Sacchi and Spain’s Hector Sanz.
It was not a happy return however for Abbate, back in action for the first time since a racing accident 20 months ago, with technical problems necessitating a long halt after just 76 laps. After restarting, his team completed 133 laps to finish fourth.
Team Abu Dhabi’s tactic to place one member of their 2019 world title winning crew in each of their boats paid off handsomely today.
Two-times F2 world champion Rashed Al Qemzi was an obvious choice to share the driving in Abu Dhabi 1 with his new F2 teammate, Al Mansoori, and cousin Thani Al Qemzi, the veteran F1H2O star.
Similarly, Al Tayer’s experience has had a settling effect on Al Mansoori, Al Remeithi and Al Mehairbi in Abu Dhabi 2.