French riders dominate pole sessions
TRIBUNE NEWS NETWORK DOHA
FRENCH world champions clean-swept the pole races in their respective categories at the UIM-ABP Aquabike Grand Prix of Qatar in Doha Bay on Thursday.
The local drivers also did well to draw attention as Rashid al Mannai, a motorbike racing professional, grabbed the fifth place in the Runabout class qualifying race.
The opening round of the World Championship is being organised by the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF), under the presidency of Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor al Thani, in collaboration with H20 Racing and under the auspices of the UIM.
World champion Jeremy Poret claimed pole position in the Ski F1 category with a best lap of 1m 22.93s during his 13-lap qualifying stint. Italian Emanuele Balzer was second and the UAE’s Ludo Caumont was classified in third.
Francois Medori, also defending champion, takes pole position in the Runabout section into Friday’s first World Championship heats.
Fellow countryman Cyrille Lemoine was second and Jeremy Perez was third.
Qatar’s Mannai finished fifth, with Waleed al Sharshani in eighth, Mohammed al Haidus in 15th, Abdullah Ali taking 17th and Thamer Abufaisal qualifying 18th.
Predictably, world champion Julie Bulteau, also from France, claimed pole position in the Ski Ladies category with the fastest lap of 1m 29.12s. Russian newcomer Irina Babenko was second and Pija Sumer was third.
Stefania Balzer finished a disappointing fifth.
In the morning’s free practice sessions, Bulteau was fastest of the ladies and the UAE’s Omar Bin Thani was the surprise quickest of the Ski F1 riders with a stunning tour of 1m 37.48s.
Sharshani and Khamis al Hosni were the stars of the morning’s practice in the Runabout category, both Qatari drivers emerging in front of former world champion Cyrille Lemoine in the unofficial results.
Mohammed al Suwaidi and Mohammed al Haidus were classified in ninth and 10th positions among the 20 riders who took to the water.
The Qatar Marine Sports Federation has laid on excellent facilities for spectators at this weekend’s Aquabike race and these will remain in situ for the UIM F1 H20 Qatar Grand Prix on March 9-10.
“We have two marine shops, hosted by Speed Marine and Performance Marine, five restaurants and a children’s area with its very own magic show,” said Mona Nasser, race and event coordinator at the QMSF. “This will be open from 10am through until 8pm. The spectator stand is bigger than previous years and there are also games shows for the children.” On Friday evening between 20.00hrs and 22.00hrs, a selection of riders from each category will compete in a special show, held under lights on Doha Bay, in Parallel Slalom, F1 Ski, Runabout and Freestyle.