Al-Qemzi and Al Mansoori qualify ninth and 10th; pole for Tullio Abbate


Brindisi, Italy, 29 June, 2024: Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al Qemzi and Mansoor Al Mansoori will start Sunday’s Grand Prix of Italy from ninth and 10thpositions after a competitive qualifying session on a challenging race circuit in the Adriatic port of Brindisi in Southern Italy on Saturday afternoon.

Al Qemzi is bidding to move ahead of Erik Stark to become the first racer ever to clinch five UIM F2 World Championship titles. But neither the Emirati nor his team-mate were able to find the pace that took them to first and fifth in last year’s Drivers’ Championship. They now face the task of needing to battle through traffic on the tricky salt water course if they are to challenge for a podium finish in Sunday’s race.

A revised timetable featured three qualifying sessions of 20, 15 and 20 minutes, respectively, with two of the 17 drivers eliminated in Q1, a further nine in Q2 and the remaining six battling it out for that all-important pole position.

Al Qemzi opened his account with a run of 49.320sec and that put the Emirati into the top five at the start of Q1 but competition is more intense than ever this season and the defending champion had to deliver an eighth lap of 48.643sec to safely book his place in Q2. Sweden’s Mathilda Wiberg topped the Q1 times with her fifth lap of 47.286sec.

Al Mansoori ran for 16 laps and a best tour of 49.097sec saw the Emirati finish the opening session in 11th. Lithuanian Egidijus Dagilis missed out and Slovak Peter Žak was a non-starter.

Posting a fast early lap on cleaner water was crucial at the start of Q2. Monaco-based Giacomo Saccho did just that and leapt to the top of the standings with a lap of 46.373sec. Further competitive times by the likes of Wiberg and four-time F1000 World Champion David Del Pin made it imperative that the Team Abu Dhabi duo struck back quickly to avoid missing out on Q3.

The duo held eighth and 11th midway through the session that was yellow-flagged with around a minute remaining with debris on the race circuit. The stoppage was short-lived but Al Qemzi and Al Mansoori ended the stint in ninth and 10th positions with Sacchi’s early flier good enough to top the times. Swedish veteran Johan Österberg was a non-starter and last year’s series runner-up Edgaras Riabko was also eliminated.

Sacchi, Wiberg, Del Pin, Matthew Palfreyman and Tullio Abbate lined up to determine pole position in Q3. Abbate eventually topped the times in the unofficial results to take pole position from Sacchi and Palfreyman. Technical issues prevented Duarte Benavente from starting the session. 

The Team Abu Dhabi duo lined up against 15 rivals from 11 nations for the morning’s 90-minute free practice session. Sacchi topped the times in increasingly windy conditions with a best lap of 44.215sec but Al Qemzi and Al Mansoori took advantage of invaluable time on the course to finalise their race set-ups. They were classified in fourth and 11th with Al Qemzi carding a best run of 45.894sec.

Tomorrow (Sunday), racers will be able to benefit from a final warm-up session from 10.00hrs (CET) and then the traditional parade lap precedes the opening round of the UIM F2 World Championship, starting at 18.30hrs (CET).