Sharjah: Three drivers, all from one team, will be eyeing a maiden world title when the Grand Prix of Sharjah takes off at the Khalid Lagoon on Saturday.
Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente, Thani Al Qamzi and Erik Stark are all in the running for their first-ever world crown. Miami-based Torrente leads the overall drivers’ standings with 77 points, while teammates Al Qamzi and Stark are breathing down his neck with 74 and 65 points respectively.
Team Abu Dhabi has already won their third teams’ title in the past four years. Running out of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC), the outfit is at the top of the standings with an unbeatable total of 131 points.
Torrente has been the pick of the trio with a near-perfect season with three wins — in Portimao, China and Amaravati followed by a third in Evian, France. But mechanical issues saw the American finishing in sixth last weekend in Abu Dhabi while just about maintaining his position at the top of the drivers’ standings.
“It’s the final race of the season and having four podiums from six starts is not a bad job at all. I think the success all comes down to a great team that is being led by Guido [Cappellini] and as a team we have truly enjoyed an amazing year. But now it comes down to the best driver who will be the new world champion and it is an honour for all three of us from one team to be contesting for this,” Torrente told Gulf News.
“As a team we are a real unit in every sense of the word. We have already got half the job done and now it is time to focus on the second while winning the drivers’ title as well. The goal will be to push all the way as all three of us have an equal chance. I will do what I can to go all out for the title,” promised the American who will be starting from seventh on the grid today.
Al Qamzi, who will be on Torrente’s left after ending in sixth place in Thursday’s pole run, in confident he can make things happen while also winning the Grand Prix of Sharjah for a record fourth time. “Sharjah is my city and I am familiar with the waters and conditions here. I am more than ready to win this race,” Al Qamzi related.
The Abu Dhabi resident is the only driver who has participated in all the Grand Prix of Sharjah races since the beginning. In addition, he has been on the podium five times between 2006 and 2012. “Starting in sixth is not exactly a position I would have wanted, but I will do my job and give it all,” he promised.
Stark, who will start from pole position, has the perfect advantage. “What can I say? This is racing. I am in the best position and I will need the luck to get a strong start on Saturday,” Stark said.
Perhaps, Peter Morin — son-in-law of former three-time world champion Philippe Chiappe — is the only one who can spoil a Team Abu Dhabi party in the race for honours as the Frenchman sits in fourth overall with 54 points.
“We have a race to run and each of us will be focused on doing what each of us needs to do to get maximum points and win the crown,” Stark said.
(9.10-9.30am) F4-S free practice; (9.40-10am) F4-S Time Trials; (10.15-11.15am) F1 free practice; (2.30-2.50pm) F4-S Race 2; (3.45pm) Parade Lap for F1 boats; (4-5pm) F1H2O Grand Prix of Sharjah followed by prize-giving.