Dubai: The Victory Team duo of Mansour Al Mansouri and Alex Carella will be hoping to open their accounts and pick up vital points heading into the Grand Prix of Portugal — the penultimate round on the 2018 UIM F2 World Championship on the Douro River in Ribadouro, Portugal, this weekend.
After two of the three races, both Victory Team drivers remain without any points to their names. Starting as the lone driver at the season-opening Grand Prix of Lithuania in Kaunas, Al Mansouri retired with mechanical problems and followed this up with a second blank at the Grand Prix of Norway — the third round of the championship held in Tonsberg last month. Adverse weather conditions had forced the cancellation of the Grand Prix of Denmark — Round Two of the championship in Aalborg in mid-June.
Victory Team put Carella in the second boat during last month’s third round in Norway and this strategy nearly paid off as the Italian went on to win the Speed Run beating Ola Pettersson in the Match Racing final. However, Carella could not sustain the momentum during the actual race the following day.
The overall standings are being dominated by Italian driver Alberto Comparato as he stays on top with two wins — in Lithuania and Norway — for a maximum 40 points. Comparato won the opening round in Kaunas and Tonsberg after the second round — the Grand Prix of Denmark in June — had to be cancelled due to bad weather in Aalborg.
Comparato is followed by Norwegian driver Tobias Munthe-Kaas with 22 points, while Lithuania’s Edgaras Riabko (15 points) and American Brent Dillard (14) are in third and fourth places, respectively going into the penultimate round of the championship.
Al Tayer was handed third position moving the Team Abu Dhabi racer into equal fifth position alongside Germany’s Stefan Hagin. With a maximum 40 points still on offer in the next two rounds in Portugal and Sri Lanka, much would depend on this weekend’s results.
“We have to be realistic about our chances after finishing with no points from both the races held so far,” Al Mansouri said before the Victory Team left for Portugal on Wednesday night.
“And considering that we have totally new boats with everything else new, our strategy will be to focus on getting the set-up right so that we can start winning races in as short time as possible,” he added.
A former world champion in the F4 category, Al Mansouri is pleased to have a mentor like Carella. “It’s always going to be teamwork for us at Victory Team. Definitely, our ambition is we want to win every race that we enter, and that is a joint goal that both Alex and I have. But somehow we have been struggling as we try and adjust to the new boats that have been made by us,” Al Mansouri related.
“Being totally realistic would mean we use the 2018 season as a preparatory ground to get 2019 off to a flying start. We will be stronger and better and the experience of this season will help us a long way in coming back to winning ways,” he said.
Racing will take place on a five-pin, 1.765km racecourse with technical scrutineering taking place on Friday followed by free practice from 2.15pm UAE time on Saturday. The three-tiered qualifying session will start from 6.30pm.
On Sunday, the field of 30-odd drivers will be allowed a warm-up practice session at 1pm followed by the Repecharge race for slowest qualifiers at 2.15pm and the Grand Prix of Portugal starting off at 6.45pm.
Positions after the Grand Prix of Norway, Round 3 of the 2018 UIM F2 World Championship held in Tonsberg, Norway from August 3-5: 1. Alberto Comparato (Italy) 40 pts; 2. Tobias Munthe-Kaas (Norway) 22; 3. Edgaras Riabko (Lithuania) 15; 4. Brent Dillard (USA) 14; 5. Stefan Hagin (Germany) 12; 5. Rashid Al Tayer (UAE) 12; 7. Daniel Segenmark (Sweden) 11; 8. Rashid Al Qamzi (UAE) 9; 9. Héctor Sanz (Spain) 5; 10. Ola Pettersson (Sweden) 4; 11. Duarte Benavente (Portugal) 3; 11. Rupert Temper (Austria) 3; 13. Bimba Sjöholm (Sweden) 2; 13. Oskar Samuelsson (Sweden) 2; 15. Mette Bjerknaes (Norway) 1; 15. Kalle Viippo (Finland) 1.