Abu Dhabi team driver takes top points in a race of attrition
Team Abu Dhabi driver Thani Al Qamzi trailed team-mate Ahmad Al Hameli for over 20 minutes during the second round of the Formula 1 Portuguese Grand Prix at Portimao on Sunday before the seven second leader broke down. The retirement open the way for Al Qamzi to collect his fifth career win.
“I was totally happy with the way my boat performed,” said Thani. “I bided my time and it paid off. It’s great to get back in the victory column.”
Thani now leads the driver’s championship table with 29 points ahead of the Russian GP in St Petersburg on June 4-5.
The 30 minute event began with fastest qualifier, Qatar team driver Jay Price, leading a fleet representing 12 countries before falling back at the first mark when both Abu Dhabi drivers, Al Hameli and Al Qamzi, swept by.
Thus began a disappointing afternoon for Price who pulled out with a broken engine mount on the seventh lap while still lying third. Italian Fabio Comparato did the same. They were joined be several others as the attrition rate began climbing on the very fast 1.85 kilometre Arade River course.
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Finnish driver Sami Selio also ended his race on the fifth leaving the 2007 World Champion with a nil points score.
Seven time Portuguese GP winner, Italian Guido Cappellini, suffered bad luck when mechanical problems forced him out on the seventh lap. It marked the sixth consecutive race the ex-world champion has failed to finish.
The feel good story of the day came from Portuguese native Duarte Benavente who, for the first time in his 11th year of racing reached the podium with a fine third placing.
Englishman Andy Elliott who started 18th at the end of the pontoon came charging through the fleet to finish fourth following a two year retirement.
Swedish driver Pierre Lundinof was fifth for the China CTIC Team after qualifying ninth while rookie driver Daniele Martignoni from Italy was sixth in his Mad Croc F1 Team Woodstock outfit.
The month of June will now be the next focus with back to back Grand Prix’s at St. Petersburg and Lahti, Finland.