Team Abu Dhabi’s Al Mulla still on course for another freestyle crown despite engine problems in qualifying

Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al Tayer refused to accept that his hopes of a first world aquabikes title are over after his challenge was damaged by mechanical problems at the Grand Prix of Sharjah today.

Al Tayer, lying joint second in the Runabout GP1 series, seven points behind Poland’s championship leader, Andrzej Wisniewski, failed to reach the second qualifying session because of a technical issue blocking the flow of fuel to his engine.

It means he will start the first of tomorrow’s two motos at 10am in 25th position, and faces a major challenge to climb through the field in order to gain a better slot for the second moto five hours later

His situation was helped by the fact that Wisniewski was only tenth fastest qualifier, with France’s defending champion, Jeremy Perez, claiming pole position.

While Team Abu Dhabi mechanics worked on his bike, Al Tayer immediately went back out onto Khaled Lagoon to test another race machine in the event that he will need to make a switch tomorrow.

“There’s still a long way to go,” said Al Tayer, who kept his title challenge alive in China with a determined display after being forced to ride a bike rented locally when his own was held up in customs.

There was another setback for Team Abu Dhabi later, as a broken engine prevented their reigning world freestyle champion, Rashid Al Mulla, from completing his qualifying session.

It meant a busy night for the Team Abu Dhabi mechanics before All Mulla sets off tomorrow in pursuit of a tenth successive Grand Prix triumph to secure a second successive world title. He holds a commanding 18-point lead over Italy’s Roberto Mariani, having won the last 21 motos.

Runabout GP1 World Championship standings

1          ANDRZEJ WISNIEWSKI  PL       104pts

2          YOUSEF AL ABDULRAZZAQ      KW     97

2          RASHED AL TAYER                  UAE    97

4          MARCUS JORGENSEN              DK      93

4          SAMUEL JOHANSSON               SE       93

6          JEREMY PEREZ                         FR       87

7          ANTON PANKRATOV                  EE       86

8          JOHAN JOHANSSON                  SE       66

9          MATTIA FRACASSO                    IT        64

10        LINO ARAUJO                            PT        58

Freestyle World Championship standings

1          RASHID AL MULLA   AE       150

2          ROBERTO MARIANI    IT        132

3          JAROSLAV TIRNER     CZ       110

4          SERGEY CHEMEZOV     RU      107

5          PAULO NUNES   PT        85

6          NIELS WILLEMS    BE       71

7          ALEXANDER KURAMSHI   RU      63

8          VLADISLAV VOROBEV     RU      51

9          ALBERTO CAMERLENGO   IT        29

10        HE LIU   CN       15

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