There were two drivers in with a chance for the 2017 title in Sharjah, but it was Italian Alex Carella for Team Abu Dhabi, starting the race with a lead of 11 points over reigning champion Philippe Chiappe of Team China, who won the final round of the 2017 F1 World Championship, to clinch the title. Second was Jonas Andersson and third was Thani Al Qemzi.
The UAE capital, Abu Dhabi was the pioneer of World Formula One powerboat racing, hosting their first meeting in 1993, and indeed in that first year they staged two meetings. It wasn’t until 2000 that another Emirate was added to the F1 calendar, and Sharjah soon became a firm favourite with race teams with its natural race circuit in the Khalid Lagoon where the fleet is fully protected from the elements. In the early days, Sharjah was the penultimate event in the F1 season, the final being staged in Abu Dhabi.
17 years ago Sharjah’s first meeting was won by Italian Francesco Cantando, his second career victory, after his first win in Poland. Third qualifier that year was American Scott Gillman who finished runner-up behind Cantando and ahead of Salem Al Khattal who had started 12th on the grid. Gillman was crowned world champion following the Abu Dhabi ‘Finale’, his second world title. You may ask where was Guido Cappellini? He was serving a three race ban following an attack with a hammer on timing equipment in Bulgaria which ruled him out of Vienna, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi that season, the calendar consisted of twelve events.
Since Sharjah became the final GP of the season we have witnessed some very dramatic races and in particular we can vividly recall Sami Selio having to just finish to win the title, but with half a lap to go his engine expired and it was another dream out the window.
2017 finished very differently for favourite Alex Carella, who had to finish in the top three to take the title away from Philippe Chiappe of Team China – which he did. When Carella secured ‘Pole’ it looked like it was all ‘done and dusted’ as Chiappe was starting from 5th on the grid. While the Frenchman is renowned as a very cool character he had an almost impossible task to retain his title – he had to win and Carella had to be out of the top three.
Team Blaze – Bart Marszalek came into form in the second half of the season
When the red lights went out, Ahmed Al Hameli, who was second on the grid, launched off the dock, but Carella held the lead as they rounded the first turn. The race became a little processional from then on and breakdowns played a major role in the final result. Philippe Chiappe struggled in eighth, eventually passing Mad Croc’s Filip Roms, and then Poland’s Bartek Marszalek, and was up to fourth by lap 38. Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al Qamzi moved up from 11th to grab third place ahead of Team Sweden’s Jonas Andersson who drove a great race to finish runner-up, his teammate Stark retiring on lap 2 with a broken propeller. Emirate Racing’s Marit Stromoy was another driver who drove a steady race before a mechanical issue resulted in retirement within sight of the finishing post.
After the finish, Thani Al Qemzi was deemed to have jumped the start and given a one lap penalty, but an appeal by the team was upheld and saw him retain his podium place.
SHARJAH RACE RESULTS:
1. Alex Carella ITA/UAE
2. Jonas Andersson SWE
3. Thani Al Qemzi UAE
4. Philippe Chiappe FRA
5. Bartek Marszalek POL
6. Peter Morin FRA
7. Grant Trask AUS
8. Marit Stromoy NOR
9. Rashid Al Qemzi UAE
10. Duarte Benavente POR
11. Erik Edin SWE
AFTER THE EVENT !!!!
Although a rumour had been circulating in the pits prior to the race, it soon became ‘official’ American Shaun Torrente was leaving his Victory Team employment and joining Thani Al Qemzi and Rashid Al Qemzi in the all conquering Abu Dhabi team. Alex Carella has yet to make an announcement as to where he will be going next year. It would be natural to assume he will join Scott Gillman’s Victory Team, but in F1 powerboat racing it is not always the obvious that transpires.
Prior to race day Jon Jones, Dave Burgess and Keith Whittle were frantically working on Jones’ Dragon outfit as it seemed it was besieged by problems. Matt Palfreyman was billed as making his F1 debut in Abu Dhabi, but at times it looked unlikely that he would ever leave the dock. Unbelievably, the craft was left unattended, moored up alongside the pontoon, and when one of the team returned they discovered it had sunk.
Another casualty at this event was Erik Eden’s DAC which had become seriously delaminated. Christian Molgaard who is a master craftsman at building Formula boats set about the repair work and within 24 hours Erik’s boat was ready to join the two other Swede’s in Team Sweden and much to everyone’s delight, Erik, making his F1 debut finished in 11th place.
The Team Sweden boats of Jonas Andersson (14) and Erik Eden (15)