*Italy’s Roberto Lo Piano crashes out in race 1
*Russia and Belarus trade race wins
Wednesday, 11 March, DOHA (Qatar): Russia, Belarus and Germany produced a thrilling climax to the Nations Cup in this afternoon’s two sprint races, with Andrei Panyuskin’s win and second place and Konstantin Ustinov’s fifth and third steering Team Russia to their first overall Nations Cup win with 130 points.
Defending Champions Belarus took second overall on 106 points with Germany producing a very strong showing over the three days on their Nations Cup debut finishing third overall with 94 points.
Russia headed into today’s two sprint races with a 16 point advantage over Germany with Belarus a further two points adrift.
Race 1 saw pole-sitter Andrei Panyushkin lead from the start with Roman Vandyshev, Mike Szymura and Konstantin Ustinov giving chase when the yellow flag came out following a failure in the start equipment with several drivers late off the pontoon.
From the restart Panyushkin immediately resumed control at the front with Vandyshev and Szymura running line astern until lap 15 of 22.
Behind the lead trio the performance of the race came from 23-year-old UAE driver Rashed Al Qemzi, moving up from 12th into sixth on lap 7, then scything his way up through the field passing Szymura to take third spot on lap 16.
Al Qemzi was closing down Vandyshev in second when Italy’s Roberto Lo Piano spectacularly flipped over and out of the Nations Cup on lap 20 bringing out the second yellow flag, the chequered flag coming out two laps later.
Panyushkin made the perfect start in race 2 followed by Vandyshev and Al Qemzi when the third yellow flag of the afternoon came out after Al Qemzi took out and destroyed a turn buoy.
But unlike in race 1 Panyushkin was caught napping when the green flag was given for the restart and was passed immediately by both his Belarus and UAE rivals.
Vandyshev held off a spirited race-long challenge from Al Qemzi to take the chequered with Panyushkin driving a sensible race to cross the line in third, then elevated to second after Al Qemzi was given a one lap penalty for destroying the buoy, dropping him to tenth.
Konstantin Ustinov bettered his race 1 finish taking third with Germany’s Mike Szymura capping a good afternoon taking fourth, his teammate Bernd Enzenhofer’s ninth and sixth place finishes helping to secure the team their Nations Cup third place. Dimitry Malkin also improved on his race 1 seventh place with fifth for Belarus.
Team Saudi Arabia marked their return to Nations Cup with another very solid set of consistent performances and results from both Saud Ahmed and Naeem Al Kedawi, scoring well in the Match Race and picking up points in both sprint races to take fourth overall.
Italy improved on their overnight position but Roberto Lo piano’s dramatic exit from race 1 dented their hopes of moving even higher up the table than fifth, with 22-year-old Domenico Leidi finishing eighth in both races.
Despite Al Qemzi’s brilliant solo efforts today, with teammate Rashed Al Remeithi not starting either race sixth overall was the best they could manage, Mohammed Al Obaidly, Qatar’s sole representative, valiantly piling up points with two good outings in sixth and seventh.
1. Russia - 130pts / 2. Belarus - 106pts / 3. Germany - 94pts / 4. Saudi Arabia - 70pts / 5. Italy - 55pts / 6. UAE - 54pts / 7. Qatar – 45pts