Sunday, 17 December, SHARJAH (UAE): The UIM-ABP Aquabike World Championship will play out the final and most crucial act of the 2017 season when the elite riders competing in the world’s most prestigious jet ski championship battle it on Khalid Lagoon at this week’s Grand Prix of Sharjah.
Heading into the final round the most coveted titles in international jet ski competition are all up for grabs with 60 riders from 25 countries, including the UAE’s Rashed Al Tayer and Homod Almuduyan in Runabout, Salman Alawadhi and Sultan Al Hammadi in Ski and Rashid Al Mulla in Freestyle, all facing a hectic schedule of two practice sessions, qualifying and three Motos over three days.
In Runabout GP1 the fight for the title looks to be a battle between the world’s established top three, the defending champion from Kuwait Yousef Al Abdulrazzaq, British rider James Bushell and Swedens’s Lars Akerblom, but if any of them slip up Frenchman Jeremy Perez could well be a factor after hitting form at the last Grand Prix in Dubai in November, finishing in second twice.
Al Abdulrazzaq and Bushell have traded Moto wins and Grand Prix titles this year but it is the Kuwaiti rider who is currently on top with 120 points, 23 clear of Akerblom who has been super consistent taking five top three finishes and two podiums, with Bushell a further six points adrift.
In Ski GP1 rising star Quinten Bossche leads the championship standings in his first year on the UIM-ABP tour and looks to be on course to steal the crown from defending and four time world champion Jeremy Poret.
Bossche has been the revelation of the season winning three Motos, finishing on the podium in his first Grand Prix in Porto Cesareo and again in Dubai to move to the top of the standings with a 25 point advantage over Vieste winner and two-time champion Mickael Poret from France.
After winning the season-opener Jeremy Poret has had to fight hard for every point and will now have to produce something special in Sharjah if he is to retain his title from third place in the points, and although the title looks to be out of reach the top three know that one rider to watch out for is the 2015 world champion Kevin Reiterer from Austria who has won the Sharjah Grand Prix for the last two years.
The fight for the Ladies title has been a thrilling battle all season, swinging one way then the other, and is going to go all the way to the wire with just one point the difference between defending champion Emma-Nellie Ortendahl from Sweden and Estelle Poret from France. Poret took the first two Grand Prix titles of the year but Ortendahl hit back to win in Dubai and move to the top of the standings.
The fight for third place overall is equally tight with one point the difference between another Swedish rider Jonna Borgstrom and New Zealander Kylie Ellmers, both enjoying their best seasons in the championship.
The absence of the defending Freestyle world champion from Slovenia Rok Florjancic has opened the door for younger brother Nac to claim a second world title and he currently tops the standings ahead of Italy’s Roberto Mariani. But in Dubai it was the UAE Freestyle star Rashid Al Mulla who stole the show in his first event of the year with a brilliant display to win all three Motos and the Grand Prix title.
The first action on Khalid Lagoon starts at 09.30hrs tomorrow with free practice followed by qualifying starting at 14.30hrs. Motos 1 & 2 start at 10.00hrs and 15.00hrs on Tuesday, with Moto 3 starting at 15.00hrs on Wednesday.
[Qualifying and all three Motos of the UIM-ABP Aquabike Grand Prix of Sharjah will be streamed live on aquabike.net]