Eight-lap penalty, decreasing fuel and technical issues can't stop Abu Dhabi from claiming second spot in France
Team Abu Dhabi 6 was dramatically demoted to third position in the final results of the 24 Hours of Rouen endurance race by race officials on Monday evening, despite finishing the race second, ahead of the Touax Pegase Racing Team.
Both boats had completed the shortened 17-hour race on the River Seine in Northern France 20 laps behind the race-winning Team Nollet by New Star 20.
But race officials deemed that Thani and Rashed Al Qemzi, Rashed Al Tayer and American Shaun Torrente were behind their French rivals on their 537th and final lap and third place was the result.
The team appealed the decision in vain and will now try to win the UIM World Endurance Championship at the next round at Augustow in Poland in two month’s time.
Team Abu Dhabi had overcame several niggling technical issues, a costly eight-lap penalty and a late scare over fuel levels to believe they had initially clinched second overall in the prestigious race.
With the weather improving somewhat for the second session of a race that started seven hours late on Monday because of appalling conditions, the foursome completed a topsy-turvy race.
They held second for a couple of hours at the start and then fought back from seventh place to eventually finish behind the winning Team Nollet by New Star 20 DAC.
Fuel level issues for Team Abu Dhabi and a late scare for the eventual winners ensured a thrilling conclusion to the shortened 17-hour race.
Team Abu Dhabi’s challenge suffered lap penalties during the first session for turn buoy violations and debris wrapped around the propeller in fading light and then two prop shaft failures and a broken compressor in the last few hours of the second session on the 3.8km course.
But the team fought back resolutely and reached the chequered flag 20 laps behind the winners, despite running dangerously low on fuel in the final minutes of the race.
Touax Pegase Racing Team (8) usurped Abu Dhabi of second place with the UAE team rounding off the podium positions.
Team Nollet by New Star 1, crewed by three-time UIM F1 H2O world champion Philippe Chiappe, Peter and Nelson Morin and Russian driver Konstantin Ustinov, led until the end of the first session, despite flipping the boat in the dark near the end of the stint, eventually taking fifth overall.
“Everyone worked hard in a very difficult race in demanding conditions,” said Salem Al Remeithi, general manager of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC).
“We obviously wanted to finish first, but this is a race of endurance and we overcame several obstacles to finish second.”
Torrente added: “Second place confirmed, maybe with one litre of fuel left in the boat at the finish. Rashed Al Tayer did a great job in the final stint in managing the fuel and just going fast enough to stay in front of the number eight boat.
“We only had one penalty all race. We are really happy. Now we will go to Poland and try and win the World Championship in July.”