16th Annual Event Has Had Seven Different Winners!
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – 18th of November, 2008 – Some race events are known for their picturesque settings. Others are known for their challenging and rough circuit conditions. But, the longest running Grand Prix of the U.I.M. F1 World Championship for power boating, the 16th Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi, which takes place on Friday, December 5th in the inner harbor of downtown Abu Dhabi, is known for being the venue where dreams are made or broken for drivers lucky enough to be chasing a World Championship.
This year, the man in the middle of all the drama is 2nd year full time driver Jay Price of the Qatar Team who has a 36 point margin with 40 points still up for grabs in the 2008 championship season. The driver from New Orleans, Louisiana, who has a pair of victories and 85 points on the season, could become the third driver from the United States to win the world title since Gene Thibodeaux in 1986 and Scott Gillman who has won the crown four different times (1997, 2000, 2004 and 2006). Scott’s first championship was won along the cornice and how ironic this turns out to be since he now is the racing manager of Team Abu Dhabi and has his office just a stones throw from the circuit where he took his first title.
The formula for success works this way for Price. He needs to finish sixth place or better and to capture his first title in his 21st career start by picking up five points. Chasing him in desperation are two talented drivers from Northern Europe beginning with Jonas Andersson of Sweden. The long time rival from their F2000 racing days, the F1 Team Sweden driver has had a stealer year. He’s won two of three times he’s finished races. His victories at the Grand Prix’s of Qatar and Russia have kept him within shouting distance of Price while losing ground at the last event when he finished fourth at Shenzhen, China three weeks ago.
While Jonas will have to take back to back wins to have any shot at the title and hope Jay fails to finish outside the top 10 in both races. Two points back of Andersson in third place with 47 is a fast surging defending World Champion Sami Selio. The driver from Helsinki, Finland with the Woodstock Red Devil Racing Team pulled off the impossible last year winning back to back Emirates events in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah to take the title. He knows however, this season is a harder hill to climb and will really need some luck to have any shot for back to back championships when the sun sets on the campaign calendar on the 12th of December.
The race in Abu Dhabi has had seven different winning drivers since its inception back in 1993. Some of the highlights, beginning with the first of back to back victories by Felix Serralles of Ponce, Puerto Rico in 1993 and 1994. Guido Cappellini’s first of four victories in Abu Dhabi and his first of nine World Championships in 1993. Scott Gillman taking his first championship his rookie season in 1997 making it his third straight title after winning two in a row in North America on the P.R.O.P Tour in 1995 and 1996 in the same Seebold built boat.
Other historic events in Abu Dhabi saw Jonathan Jones of Cardigan, Wales capturing his second and final U.I.M. F1 title in 1998 after both Cappellini and Gillman failed to finish losing out on their chances to capture the crown and leaving it to Jonathan who won his first and only race of the year to take the laurels. Italian Francesco Cantando came from farther back in the starting field than any driver to win a race on the edge of the Arabian Gulf in 2000 when he charged up from 16th place and finishing runner-up in the title as well. He also took the victory again in 2001.
Recently retired driver Laith Pharaon won twice in front of his parents as the driver from Saudi Arabia, who now makes his home in Miami, Florida, took both the 2002 and 2003 events as part of his career three total victories.
The Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi has also been a race that welcomes new drivers to the series as well as welcoming back other veterans who have returned to the campaign for the final two events of the season. Felix Serralles who made the podium in all three of his starts began his foray in the U.I.M. F1 series with a big splash in the early 1990’s. Thani Al Qamzi, who was 3rd in the championship a year ago, cut his teeth at home here in the Emirates in 2000 starting 13th and finishing a fine seventh at days end. French driver Philippe Chiappe also started in the Emirates for the first time in 2001 failing to finish in his first ever race in Abu Dhabi.
Jay Price started his first ever event in 2002 in the Emirates taking a ninth place in Abu Dhabi after qualifying 14th. Australian driver Bob Trask did the same as Jay arriving in 2002 to stay. Ahmad Al Hameli of Team Abu Dhabi did so in 2006 qualifying 14th and finishing with a point in tenth place in his first career start. Italian boat builder and veteran pilot Massimo Roggiero returned to the series full time in Abu Dhabi a year ago, while this season German driver Fabian Kalsow returns joining the 800 Doctor Team.
So, there you have Abu Dhabi and the final two races in the United Arab Emirates, once again proving to be a pivotal time in the schedule with three drivers in less than three weeks time still dreaming to win the title. History has proven that Abu Dhabi can be either a graveyard or holy place for driver’s dreams of winning the World Championship. And isn’t this what it is all about? The U.I.M. F1 World Championship featuring the best drivers in the world on water, plane and simply stated.