It's been a close qualifying session.
A little piece of motorsport history was scripted at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on Friday. UAE's Amna Al Qubaisi clinched the thrilling qualifying race to secure pole position of the F4UAE Trophy Round held as a support event to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. For the first time ever, four women were part of the season-opening round in Abu Dhabi. Three of the four women are GCC nationals, two from the UAE and one belong to Saudi Arabia.
"It's been a close qualifying session. I am definitely happy with the result, but there's always room for improvement. So we will address a few things before Race 1 on Saturday," Amna said after the qualifying race.
Right from the morning's practice session, Amna along with her sister Hamda - both from Abu Dhabi Racing - dominated the proceedings on the tracks. While 19-year-old Amna finished with time of 2.14.104, her two-year younger sister followed in 2.15.254. However, Hamda was quick in her final lap to retain second place. The 30-minute practice session was cut short by 17 minutes after a suspension failure by Logan Hannah of Dream Racing.
Few hours later, Amna continued her dominant form in the qualifying race. However, the first Emirati female racer faced tough challenge from Nicola Marinangeli of Xcel Motorsport. The Italian pushed Amna and fans were treated to some fine racing as both drivers clocked fastest lap time.
At the end, the home-grown star had enough firepower and intent to drive home in a time of 2.12.727 - just a 10th of a second better than Marinangeli.
Dutchman Tijmen van der Helm kept pressure on top two but the Xcel Motorsport racer had to settle for third place. Alex Connor followed in fourth as Hamda, who couldn't repeat her practice position, was fifth, almost a second slower than her sister.
Manan Hajjawi, Jordan's debutant racer for Dragon Racing, was sixth, while BWT Muecke Nico Goehler came seventh, Rodrigo Almeida eighth, Iranian Mehrbod Shameli ninth and Saudi Arabia's Reema Jaffali 10th for Dragon Racing. Ivan Peklin, Constantin Reisch and Hannah were the bottom finishers.
F4UAE has been instrumental in developing young driver talent over the last three seasons. And the qualifying result is a great sign of growth of motorsport in the country. The Al Qubaisi sisters are daughters of the UAE's first motorsport star Khaled Al Qubaisi. And like their father, both girls made their way into karting with Amna breaking out into single-seaters in 2018, becoming the first Emirati female racing driver to reach that level in the process.