San Nazzaro, Italy: Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al Qamzi is still chasing his dream to win the F1H2O World Championship as he prepares to make his 150th race start at the Grand Prix of France in Macon next weekend.
The veteran Emirati driver, who has finished championship runner-up twice and third six times, is in a buoyant mood after two days of testing in San Nazarro, Italy, alongside teammate and defending world champion, Shaun Torrente.
“We’ve been preparing in Italy on a course that is similar to the one in Macon, with the same dimensions and turns, so I’m feeling good,” said Al Qamzi, who made his F1H2O debut in 2000
'Defending world team title'
“While I am trying to score my first individual drivers’ championship, I am also working with Shaun to defend our world team title.”
With ten career Grand Prix victories and 43 podium finishes to his credit, Al Qamzi currently lies ninth in this year’s championship, 16 points adrift of leader Jonas Andersson.
He returns to action in France after missing round two in China, taking over in Abu Dhabi 2 from cousin Rashed Al Qamzi, the three-time UIM F2 champion, who resumes as the reserve driver.
Torrente, lying fourth in the standings, six points away from Andersson, has set his sights on an even better return than last year in Macon, where he took victory ahead of his teammate.
“Macon was a great race for the team last year,” said the three-time world champion. “We finished first and second, but I just missed pole position, so I’d like to get pole this year.
“We’ve done some good testing, so we’re all set now. The team have done a great job preparing the engines over the last year. We’re not changing much on the boat, but we’re trying to adjust the propeller and engines for the new regulations. That’s what our focus has been here in Italy.
“So far this season has been mixed for me. For the first two rounds we run really well, but unfortunately we have just made some mistakes. I gave away a win in Toba, and then in China we gave away pole which ended up costing u
“After everything is said and done, I’m just six points off the lead, so I’m feeling pretty good. With a good weekend in Macon, I can be leading the championship.”
On Al Qamzi’s prospects of a first world driver’s title, Torrente said: “I always see a chance for Thani to win the championship. He’s in the same equipment that I’m in, so he has just as good a chance as I do.
“He just needs to remain focused, and keep putting up the good fight. This championship is so jumbled up right now, and he can still challenge for the title.”
UIM F1H2O World Championship leading positions
Jonas Andersson 23pts; Erik Stark 21; Bartek Marszalek 20; Shaun Torrente 17; Sami Selio 15; Ferdinand Zandbergen 12; Filip Roms 11; Peter Morin 9; Thani Al Qamzi 7; Brent Dillard 6