Vila Velha de Rodao: Team Abu Dhabi driver Rashid Al Qamzi asserted his dominance in the 2023 UIM F2 World Championship on Saturday with another stunning performance to secure pole position in the final Grand Prix of the season on Sunday in Portugal.
Having secured his fourth Formula 2 championship title with one round to go last weekend, the Emirati driver produced another impressive display to win the seven-boat qualifying shootout in dramatic fashion in Vila Velha de Rodao.
Lithuania’s Edgaras Ryabko briefly looked set to repeat his pole position success in Pesso da Regua when he pulled ahead of Al Qamzi late in the session, but the champion responded with a brilliant final lap to take the honours.
Norwegian Tobias Munthe Kaas recorded the third fastest time in the qualifying rounds, ahead of Portuguese Duarte Benavente, Estonian Stefan Arand, Mansour Al Mansouri from the Abu Dhabi team, and Swedish Matilda Viberg.
Although the pressure of the title race has lifted from Al Qamzi, he is determined to complete the season by winning the Grand Prix for the third time tomorrow afternoon after winning in Lithuania and Italy.
However, the battle for the silver and bronze places in the tournament remains wide open, and there has been fierce competition for the qualifying places, and it is set to continue strongly tomorrow.
Two years ago, Al Qamzi scored his second Grand Prix win in the space of eight days on the Tagus River in Vila Velha de Rodao, securing his third Formula 2 world title.
The fastest in free practice
Happy to be back on the field, a week after adding to his titles in 2017, 2019 and 2021, Al Qamzi was quickest in the free practice session, while his Abu Dhabi teammate Al Mansouri made a late surge to set the third best time.
After that, Al Qamzi qualified for the first of the two qualifying rounds behind Benavente, while Wiberg recorded the third fastest time, ahead of Al Mansouri.
With just 13 points separating Ryabko, Arand, Monaco’s Giacomo Sacchi, Britain’s Colin Guelph and Al Mansour in the battle for the two remaining podium places, the stage is set for a major climax of the season.
It has been a highly competitive championship season, and Al Qamzi has risen to the challenge admirably to join Sweden’s Eric Stark in the record books as four-time Formula 2 champion.
1- Rashid Al Qamzi (UAE) 55 points
2. Edgaras Ryabko (LTU) 29
4. Giacomo Sacchi (Monday) 24
6 – Mansour Al Mansouri 16
7. Daniel Segenmark Sweden 15
8. Mitty Perkness (Britain) 15
9. Johan Osterberg (Sweden) 11