Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al Qemzi launched his bid to regain the UIM Formula 2 World Championship title with victory in the Lithuania Grand Prix, the opening round of the season, in Kaunas at the weekend.
The 2017 world champion and the Abu Dhabi Team driver was recording his second success in three years at the venue when Norwegian Tobias Munthe-Kaas collected a one lap penalty for a race buoy infringement after finishing ahead of the Emirati.
It meant a perfect start to the season for Al Qemzi, who began the opening round of the 2019 season in pole position after dominating the previous day’s qualifying session.
Daniel Segenmark of Sweden and Team Sharjah’s Dutch driver Ferdinand Zandbergen finished second and third respectively.
On a day when gusting winds again created problems for the 20 drivers, Al Qemzi immediately lost his advantage when the 45-lap race got under way, dropping to third as Germany’s Stefan Hagin powered his way into the lead from Munthe-Kaas.
The top three stayed that way until a 26th lap yellow flag when one of the turn buoy was dislodged, and from the restart, Al Qemzi took second place as Hagin suffered power steering problems.
“I knew I had the race in the bag if I could stay close behind Tobias after he collected a one-lap penalty,” said Al Qemzi.
“It was a muddling race but happy with the end result. My boat was good throughout the race. It lost some power towards the middle laps but it still had enough to race in the front three and then eventually win the race.”
Salem Al Rumaithi, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club, praised Al Qemzi’s courage and efforts to win the opening leg of the world race series.
“It is very important to get a heady start and Rashed has done exactly that,” he said.