Sharjah: For the first time in many years, all four category titles will be decided when the fourth and final round of the 2019 UIM-ABP Aquabike World Championship is held alongside the Grand Prix of Sharjah this weekend.
Victory Team’s Kevin Reiterer and Sweden’s Emma-Nellie Ortendahl are within striking distance of world crowns in the Ski Division, while Poland’s Andrzej Wisniewski is assured of the men’s Runabout title even as a dominant Team Abu Dhabi rider Rashid Al Mulla eyes an unbeaten record in the Freestyle.
Heading towards a defence of his world title, Reiterer has displayed great form this season while picking up his third GP title of the year with a perfect score in Qingdao, China. The 26-year-old Austrian — who was signed by Victory Team to head their Aquabikes development programme — now just needs one point to be assured of a third career world crown.
Standing in as challengers is a group of riders led by Daniel Svae Andersson (148 points), Barnabas Szabo (133), Anders Keller and Stian Schjetlein with an identical 125 points tied in fourth and Frenchman Alex Courtois in sixth with 122 points. “For me, this round will be about consolidating my position at the top while winning a third world title in style. I’ve had a fruitful and successful relationship with Victory Team and I am glad to be pushing our developmental programme forward so that the next generation of Emirati riders are ready for challenges ahead,” Reiterer told Gulf News.
“I really wouldn’t be too bothered about the competition, but focus on my races so that I can be at the top at the end of two days of racing here.”
Two-time world champion Ortendahl also has an identical task at hand as she stands in need of another three points to close out a third world crown while being chased down by the Borgstrom sisters, Jonna and Sofie, Estelle Poret and Jasmin Ypraus. “Once I am out on the water, it is going to be me against myself. I would rather concentrate on my capabilities on the ski rather than pay attention to the rest,” Ortendahl said.
Victory in Sharjah this weekend will hand out a unique record as Ortendahl will become the first woman to win all motos during a full season. “My goal is to finish first. I have succeeded in that so far, and I want to make the clean sweep in the remaining three motos here as well. There is some sort of pressure and I enjoy this as it gives me that extra amount of confidence,” she added.
Team Abu Dhabi’s Al Mulla is also on a unique run as he’s been on a 21-moto winning run spanning across nine GPs. Unbeaten in his category since 2016, Al Mulla leads the Freestyle category by 18 points from Roberto Mariani. “My category is all about innovating all the time. We have to invent new tricks so that we stay ahead of the competition. I am blessed to be doing this for the past few motos and the idea this time will be to sign off with some new moves in Sharjah,” Al Mulla said.
Competition in the Runabout category will be tougher with only 17 points separating the top six riders. Poland’s Wisniewski sit at the top with 104 points, seven clear of joint second place holders Yousuf Abdul Razzaq and Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashid Al Tayer, while Samuel Johansson and Marcus Jorgensen tied in fourth a further three points away, while defending champion Jeremy Perez is in sixth with 87 points.
The first two motos in all four categories will be held on Wednesday, while the third and final moto will be held on Friday.