In a bid to win back the prestigious 24 Hours of Rouen endurance title it secured for the one-and-only time two years ago, Team Abu Dhabi is entering what it believes to be its strongest team in the 55th edition of the famous 24-hour race on the River Seine in northern France, which starts on Monday (April 30) at 10 a.m. and finishes Tuesday at 4 p.m., after a customary mid-race interval.
A four-man Team Abu Dhabi crew is ready to compete in the 24 Hours of Rouen next week. Photo courtesy ADIMSC
The experienced Emirati trio of Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi and Rashed Al-Tayer are going to join their teammate—American racer Shaun Torrente—in the Team Abu Dhabi 6 boat in the competitive S2 class. The team carried out three days of testing in Italy earlier this week, according to a press relase from the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club.
Team Abu Dhabi entered a two-boat team the last two years and secured the S2 class victory in 2016, courtesy of Thani Al-Qemzi, Majed Al-Mansoori and the Italian duo of Alex Carella and Tullio Abbate. Last year, Thani Al-Qemzi, Carella, Al-Tayer and Majed Al-Mansoori fought back from a spectacular crash involving Carella to finish fourth in the S2 class and sixth overall.
The all-French Team Nollet, which included Philippe Chiappe—a multi-time F1 H2O world champion—Peter Morin, Nelson Morin and Rodolphe Avenel, won the overall race. This year, 27 boats are on the entry list and 12 of the entries are in Class S2, including Team Abu Dhabi’s DAC and Chiappe’s Nollet–New Star 1 entry.
Other strong competitors include the all-Russian lineup in Nollet-New Star 20, the French quartet in Navikart Racing 32 and Team Privilege, a three-man French crew driving a BaBa. The likes of Sun Racing Team, Touax Pegase Racing Team, Team Racing Evolution, Xtrem Racing and Club Motonautique Normand bolster a largely French-dominated category.
“This is one of the most important races in the UIM calendar and one of the most famous of them all,” said Salem Al-Remeithi, general manager of the ADIMSC. “We have unfinished business in Rouen and, for that reason, we have entered a strong and experienced team in our bid to win back the title.”
Torrente said he is really looking forward to the race.
“This is such a unique race—the strategy is really the same for all teams and that is to be consistent, have a good consistent pace and try and avoid breakdowns and self-inflicted wounds by the drivers,” Torrente said. “There are a lot of penalties to be aware of for things like driver changes, having too many feet on the boat, buoys, speeding when under yellow (flags). All those type of things are lap penalties.
“Our team has a lot of experience,” he continued. “I have been there the last two years. Thani has a wealth of experience in F1, Rashed is the F2 world champion and has F1 experience and Rashed Al-Tayer has a lot of boat racing experience in general. We have a strong line-up. No matter who is in the boat, no one can take advantage of any of us on the team.”
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