Emirates Racing Team took three awards at the Sharjah GP on December 15
Emirates Racing Team took three awards at the seventh Grand Prix of Sharjah held on Khaled Lagoon on December 15 so wrapping up the 2006 U.I.M. F1 World Championship.
Local driver Thani Al Qamzi won in impressive fashion from pole. He passed Italian ace Guido Cappellini on the 12th lap to cruise home for his first ever victory in a 49th grand prix career.
“I am very happy for my crew and my teammate Scott Gillman for winning the world title,” said Thani. “I feel happy for everyone involved and look forward to starting the new season as soon as possible to keep this good feeling alive as well.”
As 23 drivers from four different continents took off on their final race of the year two drivers were fighting for the title. In the early stages it looked like Guido Cappellini had the upper hand as he took the lead from second pole. He was able to set the pace for the early stages until the young Thani Al Qamzi powered by to head the fleet for the remaining laps.
Cappellini was even in danger of loosing his second placing when Saudi Arabian driver Laith Pharaon, pushing hard from his ninth starting slot, later came close. But Cappellini’s day finished with electrical problems on the 24th lap ending his dreams of a tenth world title.
Meanwhile, American Scott Gillman was cruising around in fourth place waiting for his chance to challenge Cappellini only to realize this was no longer needed. Instead he paced himself knowing he only had to finish tenth to take the title. Gillman eventually crossed the line in seventh place to take home his fourth UIM Formula 1 World Championship and the team title for the Emirates squad.
“We did what we needed to do to get the job done today,” stated the Los Angeles driver. “It couldn’t have turned out more perfectly for us with Thani winning and also taking the Team Championship as well. We were just setting a pace and waiting to push but didn’t need to when Guido went out. Now we can celebrate a wonderful year.”
Veteran Andy Elliott, the sole British challenger, finished tenth after starting a lowly 23rd for the Atlantic Team. He finished 13th on the overall points table to wind up his 17th season in F1 racing.
This brought the 25th Anniversary season of the U.I.M. F1 World Championship to a close and with American Scott Gillman of the Emirates Team capturing his fourth title since joining the tour in 1997. The championship coupled with his three North American championships mark this 47 year-old driver as one of the best all-time in the world of power boating. Can the younger drivers of the sport begin to replace the established names that have ruled the competition for the past 15 years? Only time will tell, but 2006 will go down as a season to remember.