Frenchman Chiappe clocks fastest lap in Thursday’s free practice session; Victory’s Torrente in second

 

ABU DHABI (UAE): Wednesday, December 6 : Competitors took advantage of their first opportunity to take to the waters of the Arabian Gulf on Wednesday afternoon in a free practice session for this weekend’s Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi, the penultimate round of the 2017 UIM F1 H2O World Championship.

The hosting Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) has three boats in the 21-hull line-up and series leader Alex Carella and Rashed and Thani Al-Qemzi ran for 10, 14 and five laps, respectively, at the start of the 90-minute practice stint. They were classified in seventh, ninth and 11th positions.

 Carella’s rivals know that they must stop the Italian winning Friday afternoon’s race to deprive him of a fourth world title and Team Sweden’s Erik Stark and Victory Team’s Ahmed Al-Hameli, together with their respective team-mates Jonas Andersson and Shaun Torrente, showed their determination with impressive practice times in ideal racing conditions. Triple World Champion Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC Shenzhen China Team won the session with a best lap of 43.75sec during his 25 laps on the water. Torrente and Stark were second and third.

 Rookies Erik Edin and Matthew Palfreyman enjoyed their first F1 experience and ran for 16 laps each, the Swede carding a best time of 47.70sec in his Team Sweden DAC. Palfreyman clocked a best tour of 48.17sec in his British-built Dragon after heading out on to the water mid-way through the session and then pitting after two laps with a minor steering issue.

 Double World Champion Sami Selio and team-mate Filip Roms were last on to the water for a brief test after a late scrutineering slot, but Poland’s Bartek Marszalak deliberately missed out on the session.

 Etihad Airways is the official carrier for Team Abu Dhabi that is also supported by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council 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 and under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Sultan Bin Khalifa Al-Nahyan, Vice-President and CEO of the ADIMSC. The racing team runs under the umbrella of the ADIMSC, board member and general manager Salem Al-Remeithi and team manager Guido Cappellini.

 Carella knows that outright victory on Friday will give him the world title and Cappellini is upbeat about his chances: “This is actually a nightmare situation for us. Apparently it is supposed to be good. We are 16 points in front. It is a good gap.

 “The problem is we are want to win the World Championship here. In case Alex wins, then we win the title in front of the Sheikh (His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Khalifa Al-Nahyan), the club and the public of Abu Dhabi. But it is better not to take any risks. This is the compromise and this is the difficult decision we have to make for the team. After qualifying, we will check the position and then decide what is the best strategy. It is a great combination; the 25th Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi and the 50th race for Alex. I guess it’s ‘insha’Allah’ for Abu Dhabi…

“Rashed was very fast in a private test here. He has been concentrating on the F2 this year and not taking any risks in the Formula One. Now is the opportunity for him. Thani, like Alex and Rashed, has worked hard this month for perfect F1 preparations. The atmosphere is good in the team. I’m positive it will be a good weekend.”

 Salem Al-Remeithi added: “We have a strong team and I believe we can finish the job at this race. The field is strong and it will be a battle. We are competing in the event and, as a club, we are also organising the race weekend. It has been an excellent season for the team, with the win in the F2 Championship, but we are learning something new at every race.”

 Competitors taking part in the UIM F4 Trophy will tackle two races over the weekend. Ten drivers will battle for supremacy, with Mansoor Al-Mansoori holding a two-point lead in the standings. Team Abu Dhabi has opted to field two drivers, with Rashed Al-Romaithi joining Mohammed Al-Mehairbi.

 Victory Team fields newcomer Mohamed Al-Matlae alongside Al-Mansoori and 55-year-old former Rouen 24-Hour winner Rudolf Mihaldinecz, from Hungary, will return to action on Thursday as the Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team’s representative.

 Spectators are welcome to attend all the weekend’s action at the Breakwater on Thursday and Friday and there will be plenty of attractions for families and children, in addition to catering stalls and trade stands. F4 and F1 H2O practice and F4 timed trials take place on Thursday morning and the first of the weekend’s two F4 races starts at 2pm, preceding BRM F1 qualifying at 3.30pm.

 2017 UIM F1 H2O World Championship – free practice times (Wednesday):

1. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 43.75sec

2. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team 44.14sec

3. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Sweden 44.16sec

4. Marit Stromoy (NOR) Emirates Racing Team 44.43sec

5. Peter Morin (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 44.48sec

6. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden 44.51sec

7. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 44.55sec

8. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team 44.66sec

9. Rashed Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 45.03sec

10. Grant Trask (AUS) F1 Atlantic Team 45.47sec

11. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 45.56sec

12. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team 45.81sec

13. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing 45.88sec

14. Mike Szymura (DEU) Emirates Racing Team 46.26sec

15. Francesco Cantando (ITA) Blaze F1 Team 46.32sec

16. Amaury Jousseaume (FRA) Maverick F1 Team 46.44sec

17. Cédric Deguisne (FRA) Maverick F1 Team 46.75sec

18. Erik Edin (SWE) Team Sweden 47.70sec

19. Matthew Palfreyman (GBR) Emirates Racing Team 48.17sec

20. Filip Roms (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing 1min 06.95sec

Bartek Marszalak (POL) Blaze F1 Team DNS

Timetable of events

Thursday, December 7

09.10-09.30 F4 free practice

09.40-10.00 F4 time trials

10.15-11.15 F1 free practice

14.00 F4 race 1

15.30 BRM F1 qualifying

 Friday, December 8
09.10-09.30 F4 free practice

09.40-10.00 F4 time trials

10.15-11.15 F1 free practice

14.00 F4 race 2

15.30 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi