Team Abu Dhabi launch another double title charge as the UIM F1H2O World Championship roars back to life on its first visit to Italy for 15 years.
Team manager Guido Cappellini, who won the 2006 race, is using all his experience and local knowledge to help Shaun Torrente and Thani Al Qemzi make a flying start to this year’s reduced championship.
The Italian race legend and 10-time world champion put Torrente and Al Qamzi through two full days of intense training last week on the River Po in San Nazzaro.
The Grand Prix of Europe got under way with official practice on Saturday, 629 days since the previous F1 race in Sharjah saw Torrente secure his second world drivers title in dramatic fashion.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly two years since I got out of the boat after winning the second world championship,” said Torrente. “But the team has been preparing throughout the pandemic. We’ve made improvements in all areas, so it’s up to Thani and myself to show how strong we are as a team.”
With Torrente now aiming for a world championship hat-trick, Al Qemzi continues his pursuit of a title which has so far eluded the Emirati driver, who made his debut in the flagship single-seater inshore circuit racing series back in 2000.
He has eight Grand Prix victories and 30 podium finishes to his credit, finished championship runner up to Cappellini in 2009, and has been third on five occasions.
Al Qemzi, however, still believes in his ability to be crowned world champion, and is equally determined to help Team Abu Dhabi extend a run of three successive world team triumphs, and also clinch the pole position championship.
“Our strategy is the same as it has been for the last five or six years, to go for the three titles,” said the 42 year old, who points out that Frenchman Philippe Chiappe was 51 when he snatched the first of his three world titles.
“He never gave up, and I won’t quit either” he said. “I still have a lot to give, and I intend to put my name in the record books.”
The championship is scheduled to conclude with December’s Grand Prix of Sharjah.