Team Abu Dhabi needs four points to regain UIM Teams’ Championship
Team Abu Dhabi’s Al-Mehairbi aims to end F4-S season on winning note
SHARJAH (UAE): Monday, December 11: Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella and Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC Shenzhen China Team are both triple World Champions and they go head-to-head in Friday’s Grand Prix of Sharjah showdown to determine who joins American Scott Gillman in the UIM F1 H2O World Championship’s Hall of Fame with four titles.
The scene is set for an epic contest on Khaled Lagoon, as Carella’s lead in the championship standings was pegged back to just 11 points by Chiappe’s win in Abu Dhabi last weekend. If Carella finishes inside the top three, he is the champion regardless of whether the Frenchman wins the race. Should Chiappe – winner here in 2014 - finish second, sixth place would be sufficient for Carella to snatch the title.
If Chiappe were to finish third, the Italian would only need to cross the line in ninth overall to secure the two points he needs to take the crown for the first time since 2013. A finish outside the top three for Chiappe would hand Carella the title regardless of the Italian’s progress.
But recent F1 H2O races have been nervy experiences for all the drivers and, with a 19-boat line-up expected this weekend, at least eight of those drivers are more than capable of springing a surprise and turning the formbook upside down.
There is also the small matter of the prestigious UIM Teams’ Championship to fight for: Team Abu Dhabi arrives at Khaled Lagoon with a 33-point advantage over Team Sweden and a 35-point lead over Chiappe’s Chinese team. Three points for Carella or Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi would ensure that the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) earned the title. Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi have both played a vital role in the team’s success this season.
Carella, who won this race in 2013, said: “It’s going to a big fight, for sure, and I guess we are going to have to drive flat out to ensure we get the points to win the title. The team is ready, I am focused and I know that winning the championship for the fourth time is in my hands.”
Other drivers will be out to spoil the local party. The Victory Team’s Ahmed Al-Hameli (winner here in 2010 and 2011) and last year’s winner Shaun Torrente have nothing to lose and are sure to adopt a flat-out strategy to try and win the last race of the year. Norwegian Marit Stromoy was in superb form last weekend at the Abu Dhabi Breakwater and is a former winner (2015) on Khaled Lagoon. Team Sweden’s Erik Stark cannot now challenge for the title and he and team-mate Jonas Andersson will also be pushing hard for the win.
Sami Selio has been advised on medical grounds to give the race a miss - after his pair of Abu Dhabi crashes - but the Finnish double World Champion will be determined to find a way to race. The likes of Poland’s Bartek Marszalek and Grant Trask ran well in Abu Dhabi and could threaten the top five this weekend. A red card for alleged dangerous driving has sidelined Cédric Deguisne, while Matthew Palfreyman’s Spirit of Wales team is racing against the clock to repair a damaged Dragon boat to enable the Liverpudlian to claim his first Grand Prix start.
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.
Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi holds third in the UIM F4-S Trophy standings and is only 18 points behind series leader Mansoor Al-Mansoori of the Victory Team. With two races set to be staged this weekend, there are 40 points at stake and the Emirati will be hoping to keep his title challenge alive after the first of those races on Thursday afternoon. Frenchman Jeremy Brisset trails Al-Mansoori by two points and 16-year-old Australian Louise Vella can still lift the title from fourth in the standings.
On-water action organised by the UAE Marine Sports Federation gets underway on the 2.057km course with free practice on Khaled Lagoon from 15.00hrs on Wednesday afternoon. F4-S practice and timed trials precede official F1 practice on Thursday morning and BRM qualifying takes place from 15.30hrs after the first of the two F4-S races (14.30hrs).
Further F4-S practice and timed trials are planned for Friday morning, before a second practice session for the F1 boats and the final F4-S race of the season at 14.30hrs. The 2017 Grand Prix of Sharjah fires into life at 16.00hrs.
2017 UIM F1 H2O World Championship – positions after round 5:
1. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 70pts
2. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 59pts
3. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Sweden 49pts
4. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing 30pts
4. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team 30pts
6. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 29pts
7. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team 28pts
8. Marit Stromoy (NOR) 18pts
9. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden 17pts
10. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team 14pts
10. Bartek Marszalak (POL) Blaze Performance Team 14pts
2017 UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Trophy – latest positions:
1. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 59pts
2. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 58pts
3. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Sweden 54pts
4. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team 49pts
5. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team 38pts
6. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 24pts
6. Marit Stromoy (NOR) EMIC Racing Team 24pts
8. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing 17pts
9. Grant Trask (AUS) F1 Atlantic Team 7pts
10. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team 5pts
10. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden 5pts
2017 F4-S Trophy – latest positions:
1. Mansoor Al-Mansoori (UAE) Victory Team 95pts
2. Jeremy Brisset (FRA) F1 Atlantic Team 93pts
3. Mohammed Al-Mehairbi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 77pts
4. Louise Vella (AUS) Team Sweden 69pts
5. Corentin Guesnel (FRA) Maverick F1 37pts
5. Bingchen Wu (CHN) CTIC F1 China Team 37pts
7. Kalle Viippo (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing Team 29pts
8. Rudolf Mihaldinecz (HUN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 21pts
9. Mohamed Al-Yamahi (UAE) Victory Team 16pts
10. Sebastien Haugaard (SWE) Team Sweden 15pts
11. Damon Cohen (AUS) Blaze Performance 8pts
11. Mohamed Al-Matlae (UAE) Victory Team 8pts
13. Rashed Al-Romaithi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 6pts
Tom Chiappe (FRA) Emirates Racing Team 0pt
Timetable of events
Wednesday, December 13
10.00-17.00 Technical scrutineering
15.00-17.00 Extra free practice
Thursday, December 14
09.00-09.20 F4 free practice
09.30-09.50 F4 time trials
10.15-11.15 F1 free practice
14.30 F4 race 1
15.30 BRM F1 qualifying
Friday, December 15
09.10-09.30 F4 free practice
09.40-10.00 F4 time trials
10.15-11.15 F1 free practice
14.30 F4 race 2
16.00 Grand Prix of Sharjah