The result places him firmly in line for his sixth world Formula I championship title

Italian Guido Cappellini held off defending World Champion, Scott Gillman of the United States, throughout the Sharjah Grand Prix on October 12 to win his fifth grand prix of the season. The result places him firmly in line for his sixth world Formula I championship title.

Cappellini, lead driver for the Assicom Team, started the race four points behind fellow Italian Francesco Cantando, but Cantando was forced out early after a three-boat collision on the first corner.

It was a critical blow for Cantando. He was well placed on points but must now win next Friday’s final round in Abu Dhabi with Cappellini finishing lower than eighth to have any chance of unseating the championship leader. With three top drivers out of the race the first restart saw Saudi Arabian driver Laith Pharaon head the fleet chased by Cappellini. But the Italian moved passed on the 12th lap, and although closely followed by Gillman, never looked back.

A surprise result was Gillman’s young protege Tani Al Qamzi of Abu Dhabi. He stayed behind his “teacher” from the start to finish third and enjoy his first podium accolade a mere 12 months after joining the sport.

. Frenchman Philippe Dessertenne entered 19 points behind Francesco Cantando but with the young Italian dropping out, it gave him even more reason to push hard for points. However his day went from cheers to tears when his third placing vanished on the final lap after his engine broke down.

Swedish driver Jari Honkala, another pilot enjoying his first anniversary at Sharjah, came home a strong fourth after staying in the leading pack throughout. Portugal’s Duarte Benavente finished sixth with Sami Selio seventh in the Johnson V-6 powered rig. Britain’s Andy Elliott, who began 13th on pole filled ninth slot aboard the only wooden boat taking part.

Italian Franco Leidi had a fine drive. After starting at the back of the fleet, he finished tenth to collect the final championship point.

Rookie driver Vincenzo Polli took 11th. It was the first race for this former offshore star while K.Y. Loi came in 12th to notch up the best result of his racing career.

The tenth and final round of the 2001 UIM Formula 1 World Championship takes place next Friday, October 19th, in Abu Dhabi, capital city of the United Arab Emirates.

World Formula I Championship
Points standings after nine rounds
1. G. Cappellini (ITA) 112pts
2. F. Cantando (ITA) 96pts
3. P. Dessertenne (FRA) 80pts
4. V. Kunitch (LAT) 56pts
5. S. Gillman (USA) 45pts
6. L. Pharaon (SAU) 37pts