Selio, Comparato & Dessertenne Still In Title Hunt!!
LAUSANNE, Switzerland – 2nd of December, 2005 – Italian Guido Cappellini the lead driver of the Tamoil Team is so close, he can almost taste it. Tasting what? The U.I.M. F1 World Championship title for 2005. The native of Como, who comes to the 13th Annual Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi, the 5th round of the championship on the 9th of December, has captured the title 8 different times in the last 12 years. Guido, who has won 3 of the first 4 events of the season, now has a 25.5 point lead with just 40 points up for the taking, which puts him into a very probable position to lock up his 9th world title.
The relationship with Abu Dhabi and Cappellini has been sprinkled with good memories since he first came to the Grand Prix back to 1993. Abu Dhabi has been home to him claiming the title during the 1994, 1995, 2001 and the 2003 seasons. He lost the title in 1998 when he dropped out of the event while leading handing the title to Jonathan Jones of Wales. Guido has won the race three different times; 1993, 1996 & 1999 while claiming 5 pole positions and failing to finish 4 different events. He hasn’t won the event in the new millennium and would love to turn this around next Friday.
While Cappellini cruises into Abu Dhabi with a 60 to 34.5 point margin, the man who must come up with a pair of wins to have any chance to win the title is Finnish star Sami Selio of the Selio F1 Team. The odds, well, they are tremendously favoring the veteran Italian, as Selio is still looking for his first ever win on the tour after 54 career starts. This season Sami has three straight podiums with a pair of runner-up spots and a 3rd at the last race in Doha, Qatar. In Abu Dhabi his best finish was back in 1998 when he finished 4th after starting 21st.
Fabio Comparato of the Comparato Racing Team is four points further back in 3rd place in the championship with one podium, a pair of 4th place finishes and four straight top-6 finishes this season. The native of Chiogga, Italy must also win the final two events and hope that Cappellini has worst luck than the White Star liner “Titanic” in order to have any shot at the title. He has 1 career victory in 55 races and in Abu Dhabi his best finish is a 4th back in 2003.
The last driver to have a mathematical shot at the title is Frenchman Philippe Dessertenne of the Ligier Charente Maritime Racing Team with 30 points earned so far this season. The native of La Rochelle is coming off his best performance of the year with a 2nd at the Grand Prix of Qatar. The likeable veteran has an even more numerical impossibility having not won in his last 29 starts also must pull off a “double dip” in the win column to have any chance at his first title. In Abu Dhabi he has a pair of podiums with a 2nd in 2001 and a 3rd in 2002. He has 5 finishes and 4 DNF’s in his 9 race events in the inner harbour.
Francesco Cantando of the Singha Racing Team leads a long list of drivers who have run out of time in this short season to win the title. His high water mark this season is his 11th career victory at the Grand Prix of Singapore. Two DNF’s in the first 4 events of the season has taken him out of the title hunt. His history in Abu Dhabi has been a good one with a pair of back to back victories back in 2000 and 2001. “Franz” likes this course so don’t count him out of the winners circle for the weekend.He had 4 podiums in the 6 races he’s finished here and almost won the title in 2001 losing by just 3 points to Cappellini. He has just one DNF since starting his racing in Abu Dhabi back in 1997.
Saudi Arabian driver Laith Pharaon of Team Green has had great success in Abu Dhabi having won the last two events here back in 2003 and 2002. He also took a 3rd after qualifying a career best tying 2nd in qualifying back in 2001. The driver who makes his home in Buenos Aires and Miami lost out on a real shot for the title when he dropped out of the last event at the Grand Prix of Qatar. Taking a hat-trick with three straight wins is a true possibility from a driver who has got his “groove” back in the last season since a series of accidents slowed him up in the 2004 campaign. Odds are he should be a real player in the Emirates this weekend.
Seventh in the title with 16.5 points and having a great “sophomore” season of racing is Aussie David Trask of the XPV Racing Team as he comes off a fine 5th in Doha. The newly crowned Australian Champion is coming to race for the first time in Abu Dhabi and last season’s rookie-of-the-year is hoping to finish the season in the top 5 which is still a real possibility.
American Scott Gillman is coming to his home course driving for the Emirates Team looking for at least one victory in his world championship defending season. The native of Los Angeles, California has had the wortst luck in 2005 having led every race this season but has finished just one of four with a 2nd place in Portugal back in May. He’s been involved in two crashes while leading, one he caused on his own in Como and another he didn’t cause at the Grand Prix of Singapore effectively taking him out of the title chase. Despite his run of bad luck Gillman continues to prove he is the fastest driver on the circuit and when he finishes he usually wins having captured 9 of the last 12 he’s completed.
Gillman in Abu Dhabi is not a good reading as his racing career he’s only won just once in 7 starts back in 1997 and two total podiums. He had captured 3 poles in qualifying but also has 5 DNF’s in his last 6 starts. He won a title back in 2000 when he finished 3rd but has lost the world title in 1998 when leading and dropping out with less than 12 laps to run. He hopes his luck will turn around chasing his 21st career victory this weekend.
Great Britain’s Andy Elliott of the ACE Racing group had a fantastic 3rd place finish at the Grand Prix of Italy back in July but it is sandwiched with 3 DNF’s and now he has slipped to 9th in the championship. Here in Abu Dhabi, Andy’s best was a podium back in 1993 and three top-6 finishes total. The one-time runner-up in the title run is hoping to turn his back luck around and get back into the top 5 again this time around.
Portugal’s Duarte Benavente of the Atlantic Team is 10th in the title chase with 6 points with a season best 7th at the last event in Doha, Qatar. The native of Lisbon is coming off a career tying best 2nd place in Abu Dhabi at the last race held here in 2003. He has 3 top-10 finishes in the last 3 starts in the capital city.
Italian Massimo Roggiero of Team Green comes off a pair of top-10 finishes having raced in just 3 events this season. Massimo has had good runs in the Emirates including a pair of runner-up results in 1998 and 1999. He also reached the podium in 1995 so he is hoping to find that magic again this time around.
Thani Al Qamzi the native son comes in looking for more success on home ground as the second member of the Emirates Team. This season he has finished 3 of 4 races and thought he had won in Singapore only to find out he was judged to have jumped the re-start and was later classified 10th. He will be looking forward to a top 10 finish in front of family and friends next weekend.
The Danita Team led by Gert Ladefoged of Denmark comes into the race in 13th place despite him starting just once in Portugal and a 6th place finish. In Abu Dhabi he has a pair of top-10’s and hopes to get back into the groove again having not started since May. With the number two driver Rolf Sunde recovering from a back injury in his native Norway he received two weeks ago when he crashed at the Grand Prix of Qatar, Gert has made a call to his friend American Chris Fairchild to run the final two events of the season in the Emirates. The native of outside Chicago finished 4th in the North American ChampBoat Racing series with 4 podiums and a pole position this season in their 8 race championship. Chris is a winner of the 24 Hours of Rouen and is a one-time Mercury test driver who has won the SST-120 championship and an APBA Hall of Champions inductee. He is the first driver from the American tour to race since Mike Seebold last raced in the 2002 season.
All in all the back to back two round Emirates weekend competition to wrap up the 2005 U.I.M. F1 World Championship begins with a return to one of the “classic” events on the tour in downtown Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Guido Cappellini of Italy has two chances to lock away his 9th World Championship. The door is opening for him to accomplish this, however there is still hope from a trio of drivers who must drive the race of their lives not once but back to back weekends and at the same time hope the driver from Como has a melt down. It’s possible, but if this scenario doesn’t happen Cappellini will take the crown either in Abu Dhabi on the evening of the 9th or will have to wait a week later when the season comes to a close at the Grand Prix of Sharjah on the 16th. We should know in about 100 race laps from now!