Veteran Team Abu Dhabi driver Al-Qemzi among Grand Prix casualties after underling his threat with sprint race win

Olbia, Sardinia, 16th June, 2024: Sharjah Team’s Rusty Wyatt scored a commanding victory in the Regione Sardegna Grand Prix of Italy today to take the lead in the F1H2O World Championship as Team Abu Dhabi suffered a double setback in Olbia.

Wyatt secured his second Grand Prix win of the season in a race littered with early casualties, including Emirati driver Thani Al Qemzi, and his Abu Dhabi team-mate Alberto Comparato, as well as Victory Team’s world-title chasing Erik Stark.

Al Qemzi won the second of the day’s sprint races

After qualifying second behind Wyatt, Al Qemzi had raised his hopes by winning the first of the morning sprint races, and he was looking to close the gap on the Canadian before his Grand Prix was agonisingly cut short by technical problems on the eighth of 40 laps.

By then, Estonia’s Stefan Arand and Comparato had already made early exits, and they were soon followed by Stark, who had arrived on the Mediterranean island as the championship leader.

There were no problems however for Wyatt, the first-round winner in Indonesia, who had the luxury of being able to slow down on the last lap and still win by 12 seconds from Frenchman Peter Morin, with Poland’s Bartek Marszalek taking the third podium spot.

Sweden’s reigning world champion Jonas Andersson made a big move on the day, climbing from 14th at the rolling start to a fifth-place finish behind Norway’s Marit Stromoy.

Team Alberto Comparato – among the early casualties

It was a particularly frustrating day for Al Qemzi, who had shown in qualifying and sprint race action that he was full of confidence in the new boat he was driving for the first time, and that he remains a genuine Grand Prix threat.

The Emirati driver, who made his F1H2O debut back in 2020, had secured ten championship points when he overcame a big challenge from Morin to win the second of the morning sprint races, which had been postponed 24 hours earlier by high winds.

As a rolling start brought the Grand Prix to life, Wyatt manged to hold off Al Qemzi before the race was brought to a halt seconds later when Estonia’s Stefan Arand barrell-rolled. Finland’s Sami Selio was soon joining him on the sidelines.

Wyatt had earlier bagged the ten-point bonus with a start-to-finish victory in the first sprint race, as he held Andersson at bay in the early stages before pulling away for a comfortable win.

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