Middle East Races To Again Determine World Champion!
LAUSANNE, Switzerland – 11th November, 2005 – The 2005 U.I.M. F1 World Championship for power boating gets back into action after an 8 week layoff heading for the first time to the lovely Middle Eastern country of Qatar for the 1st Annual Grand Prix of Qatar on the weekend of the 18th and 19th of November in the capital city of Doha.
The current campaign now kicks into overdrive with three races in the next five weekends with two other events in the United Arab Emirates at Abu Dhabi on the 9th of December and Sharjah closing out the season on the 16th of December. The tradition of as some people would say, “Saving the best for last”, began in 1994 when the championship came to wrap up its season inAbu Dhabi. Since that win by Felix Serralles of Puerto Rico, only four times in the last 11 races has the championship been “locked up” before arriving along the waters of the Arabian Sea. Eight time title holder Guido Cappellini of Italy had the title won in 1996, 1999 and 2002 before arriving as did last years World Champion Scott Gillman of the USA.
This season sees Cappellini and the Tamoil Team leading the pack by 17.5 points on the strength of wins at the Grand Prix’s of Portugal and Italy. There is controversy this season however as the native of Como, Italy was originally thrown out of this event in Qatar because of what the race officials at the last Grand Prix of Singapore said was dangerous driving when he and Scott Gillman were fighting for the same meter of water going into the first turn right hander and they both were taken out of the event when they had a spectacular crash ending their day. Cappellini was reinstated by the U.I.M. board later and will be allowed to run in Doha after all.
Gillman, who was hoping to have a real shot at closing in on the championship leader quickly before he found out he was reinstated is a real dark horse now to defend his title in 2005. The native from Los Angeles, California and number one driver of the Emirates Team has led all three races this season with just a 2nd place in Portugal to show for his efforts and is currently tied for 6th in the title run with French driver Philippe Dessertenne of the Ligier Sports Team who was 3rd at the Grand Prix of Singapore.
The driver closest to challenge Cappellini is up and coming Sami Selio of Finland who is driving a new Baba boat this year and has looked strong with back to back 2nd places after finishing 12th at the opening round in Portimao, Portugal. Since the race didn’t go the required race distance he along with the other drivers in Singapore were awarded one-half the points of the usual grand prix. The driver of the Selio F1 team continues to search for his illusive first ever F1 victory.
Italian Fabio Comparato is just one point behind with 21.5 after a season that has seen him have three steady drives with a podium 3rd place in Portugal, a sixth in Como and a 4th in Singapore. The native of Chiaggo picked up his first every victory last season in Malaysia and needs a few more if he is going to win his first F1 title.
Three times runner-up in the championship Francesco Cantando of the Singha Team is coming off his first victory since last season’s opening round in Bombay, India and is 4th in the championship with 19 points. He is 3rd in active drivers in overall victories with 11 on his career and knows his way to the checkered flag and still has a shot at the title but must pull out all his luck now with just three events to go.
Saudi driver Laith Pharaon of Team Green has three straight 5th’s on the season moving him into, what else but, 5th in the championship with 17.5 points. Two of Laith’s three victories in his career have come in the Middle East and he feels comfortable racing in this part of the world along with knowing he is getting better as the season goes along which has been a trend of his career.
Great Britian’s Andy Elliott has had a wild ride in 2005 reaching the podium for the first time in over a decade with a 3rd place finish at the Grand Prix of Italy in Como after starting the season with a failing to finish performance in Portgual and again doing the same last time out at the Grand Prix of Singapore.
United Arab Emirate driver Thani Al Qamzi second driver with teammate Scott Gillman is 9th in the championship with 6.5 courtesy of a 7th a 9th and 10th place so far this season. The 27 year-old driver from Abu Dhabi is in his 5th season and would love to improve on his best ever performance which was a 2nd back in 2003 at the Grand Prix of Germany.
Rounding out the top 10 drivers is Danish pilot Gert Ladefoged of the Danita Team who thus far this season has raced in just one race at the Grand Prix of Portugal where he finished 6th and now has 5 points on the campaign. He is an extremely talented driver who if gets everything right at once can deliver with his first ever won of his career this next time out.
The Grand Prix of Qatar will feature a busy 8-pin 2.125 kilometer course with a pair of 600 meter straights that will require a lot of attention by all drivers. This lovely setting that is Doha, Qatar is quickly becoming a major player in the world of sports in the Gulf region and with the advent of the U.I.M. F1 World Championship coming to the country, it can add another stamp in its place as a water sports leader from around the world. It all takes place on the 18th and 19th of November and the question remains, will Italian Guido Cappellini gain a step closer or lose a step on his charge to his 9th world title. Only time will answer this important question. Stay tuned.