Al Qemzi steps in for young Italian after crash as Stark gives Victory team pole position


Quy Nhơn,Vietnam, 29th March, 2024: Emirati driver Rashed Al-Qemzi will replace Alberto Comparato in the Team Abu Dhabi line-up for the rest of the inaugural Grand Prix of Bình Định-Vietnam race weekend after the young Italian crashed today during qualifying.

Comparato was uninjured when his boat barrel-rolled and was badly damaged at the start of the second qualifying session for Sunday’s Round 2 of the UIM F1H2O World Championship.

Team Abu Dhabi manager Guido Cappellini took the decision to rest the young Italian, who was shaken by the accident, and Al Qemzi will now drive the team’s spare boat in tomorrow morning’s sprint races ahead of the following day’s Grand Prix on Thi Nai Bay.

Al Qemzi, who secured his fourth UIM F2 World Championship title last season, is no stranger to the F1H2O series and will be making his 11th race start on Sunday, when Victory Team’s Erik Stark starts in pole position.

Stark edged out reigning world champion Jonas Andersson in the six-boat qualifying shoot out to grab the big race advantage, while Sharjah Team’s first round winner in Indonesia, Rusty Wyatt, went through in fourth position.

After missing out on the final qualifying phase, Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al Qemzi will be aiming to fight back from tenth place on Sunday, with cousin Rashed stepping in to join him, as he did in Sardinia and Sharjah last season.

Comparato had earlier underlined his great potential when he recovered from engine failure on the first lap of free practice to set the third fastest lap time.

Cappellini, the ten-time world champion, has no doubt that veteran Al Qemzi and Comparato can ultimately become a powerful combination as the championship progresses.

On arrival in Vietnam, he said: “Of course, I have enough experience to be able to help Alberto settle into the team. But Thani is also very good from that point of view. In fact, Thani is the best team-mate Alberto could ever have, and together they’re working in one direction to give their best for the team.”

Cappellini, who has guided Team Abu Dhabi to 17 world championship titles since taking charge in 2015, has welcomed the addition of another destination for the series.

“Vietnam is the second race in Asia and this is another new venue, which is very good for the team, and for Formula One in general,” he said.

“Indonesia came into the championship with an event which is incredibly well organised among the top five of my career. It has set a very good example for Vietnam to follow.”