Abu Dhabi: Team Abu Dhabi are prepared for a major challenge when they launch their bid for a second successive double title triumph in the opening round of the 2019 UIM F1H2O World Championship in Saudi Arabia this weekend.
Reigning world champion Shaun Torrente and Emirati Thani Al Qamzi, who finished third in last year’s individual standings head a powerful nine-team line-up in Dammam for the return of the series to Saudi after a 15-year gap.
Among their biggest rivals will be France’s three time-world champion Philippe Chiappe and son-in-law Peter Morin, who finished runners-up to the Abu Dhabi duo in last year’s Teams Championship for CTIC F1 Shenzhen China.
Chiappe, who had to settle for fifth place during a frustrating 2018 campaign, is determined to launch a powerful assault on the title while Morin showed with his fourth position and two podiums last season that he is also a major force to be reckoned with.
They and the rest of the opposition will find the Team Abu Dhabi duo in no mood to give way, however, as they look to build on an impressive combined record, which includes seven UIM F1H2O race wins for Torrente, eight for Al Qamzi and 40 podium places together.
“I’m very excited to be starting the season as world champion for the first time, and of course my target is to capture the title again and make sure Team Abu finish the year as champions,” said Torrente, who will carry the prestigious No. 1 plate. “It’s going to be tough to do that, but the team has prepared meticulously for the new season and we’re looking forward to getting things under way.”
Al Qamzi, who’s own world title hopes last season were ended by engine failure during the last round in Sharjah, said: “We’re committed to keeping the team title in Abu Dhabi, and that’s the priority, although we both obviously have our individual ambitions.
“It’s good to see Saudi back as a race venue in the championship and I’m looking forward to starting the season, hopefully, with the right result for myself and the team.”
Also returning to action with Team Abu in Saudi in the hunt for the F4-S Trophy are Mohammed Al Mehairbi who is looking to build on his fourth place overall finish last season and Rashed Al Rumaithi.