Four Different Nations Represented In Win Column!!
LAUSANNE, Switzerland – 1st of December, 2006 – As the field of drivers from 15 different nations arrive next week in the lovely harbor setting of downtown Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates the 5th round of the 2006 U.I.M. F1 World Championship, they must be feeling confident that the chances of a new driver winning the race is a good possibility.
In the 13 year history of the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi, that goes back to the first event back in 1993, making this, the oldest racing venue on the calendar, six different drivers have won on the fast but challenging circuit around the 7-turn circuit on the corniche facing the Arabian Sea.
Italians have won more than any other nation, accumulating 5 victories with Tamoil Team driver Guido Cappellini of Como, Italy winning more than anyone in the history of the race with three victories in 1993, 1996 and 1999. He will now try to make it a fourth this season since he is now trailing in the drivers World Championship points chase in second place.
Francesco Cantando of the Singha Team has two victories with classic back to back wins in 2000 and 2001. The native of Milan, Italy will always be remembered for his brilliant charge to the front coming from 16th place in the 2000 event. The good news for Francesco is he has finished the last five races in Abu Dhabi in the top-10. The bad news is the last two events in 2003 and 2005 he has finished in 10th place and will be hoping to reach the podium which he has done five times in nine starts.
The Americans are the second most winning nation with four victories on the strength of current point’s leader in the F1 World Championship, Scott Gillman, driving for the hometown Emirates Team as the defending race winner while also capturing the 1997 event as well. The Los Angeles, California native has had mixed results here with four failures to finish in eight previous starts. His qualifying performance is 2nd to none with four poles in his 8 previous starts making him a 50% chance of taking another pole this year.
Felix Serrelles of Ponce, Puerto Rico is the other American driver who dominated the first three races in the history of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. He had a pair of wins in 1993 and 1994 along with a 2nd place before retiring from the sport.
Laith Pharaon, who has raced part-time this season with the Green Team, has been the most successful racer in the history of the event having won twice 2002 & 2003 along with a 2nd last season. He has figured out how to be very successful on this race course with a 3rd place in 2001 giving him four podiums in just five starts. The native of Saudi Arabia who now lives much of the year in Miami, Florida uses this race event as a family reunion and has taken full advantage as his family has cheered him on to great success in past years.
Multi-time World Champion Jonathan Jones of Cardigan, Wales has given Great Britain a pair of victories with wins in 1995 and again in 1998. His memorable last victory at this event was one of the most exciting races in the past decade with three different drivers in the middle of a championship and only Jonathan emerging out at the end capturing his only victory of the season and a World Title. Oddly enough, after this victory, he never finished another race in Abu Dhabi going 0-4 before retiring to the broadcast booth.
Other drivers of note who have come close but who have yet to win the Grand Prix are fellow Italians Massimo Roggiero of the Qatar Team who in 10 starts has four podium finishes and a pair of runner-up performances in 1998 and 1999. Casalle native Fabrizio Bocca of the Rainbow Team who in 12 starts has a best 2nd place finish back in 1993 and four top-5 finishes.
British driver Andy Elliott of Atlantic Team has raced the event since its inception in 1993 having captured a podium at the first event along with a 5th in 2002 despite six times failing to finish because of mechanical woes has had heady performances and looks to finish again in the top three this next week.
Last years event was marked by attrition as this challenging race took out a total of 11 drivers in the field with seven mechanical problems along with four others crashing out before finishing. The 5th round of the U.I.M. F1 World Championship will take place on Thursday the 8th of December with Scott Gillman hoping to hold on to his 5 point lead in the championship ahead of Guido Cappellini with a 50-45 margin. Twenty points is awarded to the winner with 2nd place given 15 and third 12 points. It’s far from settled and could go right down to the final round on the 15th of December at the Grand Prix of Sharjah. It marks another year where the title will be determined in the Emirates.