Monaco: Alex Carella and Rashed Al Qemzi received their respective UIM F1 and F2 World Championship trophies at the UIM Awards in Monte Carlo on Saturday.
Carella secured his fourth title and Team Abu Dhabi’s first since 2006 last season before announcing his switch to Dubai’s Victory Team in 2018.
“Last year was an amazing memory for me to win the world title at the last race in the UAE,” the Italian said of his Sharjah win last December. “I had a great fight with Philippe (Chiappe) and to win the race from pole position was fantastic. It was a special moment for me and for Team Abu Dhabi and, perhaps, the most satisfying of my career.
“I had the lead but I knew that anything could happen in 50 laps and, when Philippe climbed back to third, I knew I had to win. It was tight until the last second. “I thank Abu Dhabi for their efforts. It was a fantastic time in my career to be part of that team. It was time to move on and now I am with the Victory Team and this is a fantastic opportunity for me again. There are two extra races this year as well, so there are more opportunities to win races. I am very excited about the season.”
Meanwhile, in only his second season in F2, Team Abu Dhabi’s Al Qemzi secured the series, and is now looking forward to his forthcoming campaign.
“I enjoyed my first full season in F2 last year,” said the Emirati. “But my main focus last year, and in 2018, was and will be in F2. The team was so happy to complete the F1 and F2 championship goals last season, but we have even more targets this year, which we will be working on in the coming weeks.
“I have tested a lot already in Abu Dhabi for the new season with the Formula boats. We have learnt a lot. I hope that we will achieve the same goal this year in F2 that we did last year. We have big entries already confirmed in F2 for 2018 and it will be even harder to qualify and do well in the races. I will have to push even harder in pole position.”
Swedish racer Adam Wrenkler also won the Shaikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan Award for his achievements in the UIM GT15 category, where he won 70 per cent of his races last season. He now hopes to race in GT30 this season.
Ukrainian pole vaulting legend Sergey Bubka was a guest of honour at the ceremony and delivered an inspirational speech to the 400 guests from 60 countries.
“My coach always used to say to me: ‘you can celebrate the World Championship or Olympic gold, but the next day you have to forget that you are the champion and start from scratch to do it again,” said the 35-time record holder.