Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella takes a stunning pole position
Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella is perfectly positioned to challenge for victory in Friday’s 24th Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi, after qualifying in a stunning pole position for the penultimate round of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship on Thursday afternoon.
The Italian reached the six-boat Q3 shoot-out and carded a storming second lap of 45.86 seconds in ideal racing conditions on the challenging Abu Dhabi course to claim pole. Finland’s double World Champion Sami Selio pushed Carella all the way but came up just short with a time of 46.99 seconds to settle into second place.
Defending champion and current series leader Phlippe Chiappe carded a best tour of 47.33 sec and will start the race in third. Kuwait’s Yousef Al-Rubayan had laid down the Q3 gauntlet with a best time of 47.47 seconds and qualified in fourth place. Emirati Ahmed Al-Hameli settled into fifth with a lap of 48.94 seconds, but Jonas Andersson spluttered through his opening lap before suffering fuel issues that prevented him from recording a lap time.
Thani Al-Qamzi will start the race from 17th place in the second Team Abu Dhabi boat after he suffered ongoing engine issues at the start of his warm-up lap in Q1. “We broke an engine in practice this morning and then damaged the second one and decided to make just one lap to give ourselves a time before we change the engine again tonight,” said Al-Qamzi. “I still feel I can do well tomorrow. This is my home race and it’s important that I make a good result.”
Five of the 17 starters were eliminated in the opening 20-minute Q1 session on the six-pin course. Shaun Torrente carded an early target lap of 46.47sec and that was sufficient to take the American through into Q2. Kuwait’s Yousef Al-Rubayan claimed the quickest time with a lap of 46.19 seconds.
Carella also cruised through to Q2 in sixth place, but Nadir Bin Hendi, Bartek Marszalek, Christophe Larigot and Filip Roms were forced out alongside Al-Qamzi and failed to reach Q2 where a further six boats would be eliminated.
Jonas Andersson posted a flying early lap of 45.34 seconds to book his place in Q3, as Torrente returned to the pits to make adjustments to the set-up on his new boat. Sami Selio hit the front with a time of 45.33 seconds and the Finn was joined by Andersson, Ahmed Al-Hameli, Carella, Al-Rubayan and Phlippe Chiappe in the shoot-out. Ziwei Xiong, Frabcesco Cantando, Duarte Benavente, Marit Stromoy, Erik Stark and Torrente were eliminated before the final shoot-out, with Torrente falling short just in the dying seconds of the session.
Team Abu Dhabi is supported by Etihad Airways as the official carrier and sponsor and runs under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Khalifa Al-Nahyan, advisor to the Head of State and chairman of the board of directors of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC).
Rashed Al-Qamzi and Mohammed Al-Mehairbi are representing Team Abu Dhabi in this weekend’s two UIM F-4S races and the duo suffered mixed fortunes in the first of the timed trials on Thursday morning. Al-Qamzi qualified in second position behind pole winner Finland’s Anton Nyholm, but Al-Mehairbi was down in fifth. Series leader Mike Szymura struggled with technical issues and qualified in eighth of the nine entrants.
Al-Qamzi made a poor start to the 18-lap race and found himself in traffic at the first turn. The resultant delay pushed him down the leader board to fifth shortly before a yellow flag was raised with Bingchen Wu sidelined on the opening lap and Paolo Longhi also in trouble. Action resumed on lap six and Nyholm began to pull away from the pack, with Al-Qamzi moving back into second place and Al-Mehairbi holding fifth.
Nyholm’s lead had grown to 4.75 seconds at the halfway point and he maintained his pace to reach the chequered flag 11.49 seconds in front of Al-Qamzi. Mansoor Al-Mansoori finished third and Al-Meharibi climbed to fourth at the expense of Joakim Halvorsen. Szymura now holds a 34-point series lead heading into the second race on Friday afternoon.
“I didn’t make the best of starts, but I managed to get back on track and stay in touch with Anton for the rest of the race and pull away from the others,” said Al-Qamzi. “After the disappointments at the last race, I am happy to get a second place on the board here at home in Abu Dhabi.”
The morning’s one-hour F1 practice session was delayed after a collision involving Team Sweden’s Jesper Forss and Austrian racer Bernt Enzenhofer on their opening timed laps. It was Forss’s second incident at the same place in the space of two days and sidelined Enzenhofer for the rest of the weekend, but failed to prevent Jonas Andersson from claiming the fastest lap of 45.55 seconds during the session. Team Abu Dhabi’s Carella and Al-Qamzi were classified in second and 12th positions, with Chiappe and two-time World Champion Sami Selio in third and fourth.
Further F1 practice are on the agenda for Friday morning and precede the second of the 20-minute F-4S races, starting at 14.00hrs. The 24th Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi takes centre stage from 15.30hrs.
2015 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi – time trial result:
1. Alex Carella (ITA) Team Abu Dhabi – 45.86 sec
2. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team – 46.99 sec
3. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) China CTIC Team – 47.33 sec
4. Youssef Al-Rubayan (KUW) F1 GC Atlantic Team – 47.47 sec
5. Ahmed Al-Hameli (ARE) Emirates Team – 48.94 sec
6. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden – DNF
2015 UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Championship – after round 5:
1. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) China CTIC Team – 82pts
2. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team – 58 pts
3. Youssef Al-Rubayan (KUW) F1 GC Atlantic Team – 45 pts
4. Alex Carella (ITA) Team Abu Dhabi – 44 pts
5. Shaun Torrente (QAT) Victory Team – 36 pts
6. Thani Al-Qamzi (ARE) Team Abu Dhabi – 20 pts
7. Ahmed Al-Hameli (ARE) Emirates Team – 19 pts
8. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Nautica – 14 pts
9. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden – 12 pts
10. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 GC Atlantic Team – 5 pts