Team Abu Dhabi’s Carella clinches 2017 UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Trophy
Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed and Thani Al-Qemzi qualify in 11th and 12th positions
Philippe Chiappe to start final race from fifth; Team Sweden’s Stark in second
SHARJAH (UAE): Thursday, December 14: Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella and Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC Shenzhen China Team, qualified in pole and fifth positions for the 18th Grand Prix of Sharjah on Khaled Lagoon on Thursday afternoon.
The UIM F1 H20 World Championship rivals are separated by 11 points in the title race and, in a nail-biting qualifying session, the three-time World Champions slugged it out for fractions of a second to give them the psychological advantage heading into what promises to be a pulsating finale on Friday. Carella’s pole success also meant he pipped both Chiappe and Team Sweden’s Erik Stark to claim the UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Trophy.
Carella said: “I don’t think about Philippe out there on the water. I think about my team. I wanted to give the maximum. I want to close the championship in the best way possible. I am so happy for this. I did everything I could. I want to finish as the champion by winning the race. After my first lap, I hear my radioman say ‘still go, still go’ and I think from buoy four to buoy one I don’t even feel the boat under my body. I fly and fly and it was close because Erik did a fantastic time. This was one of the most important pole positions ever for me.”
Stark will shadow the Italian from the pontoon on Friday after finishing second and Poland’s Bartek Marszalek rounded off the podium with a stunning result – the first podium of his career. The Victory Team’s Ahmed Al-Hameli qualified fourth, Chiappe was fifth and Team Sweden’s Jonas Andersson rounded off the top six. Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed and Thani Al-Qemzi qualified in 11th and 12th positions after being eliminated in Q2.
Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi and Rashed Al-Romaithi finished the first of the F4-S races in fifth and ninth positions in a race where young Frenchman Tom Chiappe claimed his first ever win and Victory Team’s Mansoor A-Mansoori moved to within one point of claiming the title with one race to run unless Jeremy Brisset finds a way to take part in the race after his heavy crash on Wednesday.
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.
“The team have worked very good this week but the important thing is the flag tomorrow on the last lap,” said Cappellini. “Now, for Alex, it is more simple to stay in front and more easy to start from the front without the traffic behind. I pray to not have any mechanical problems or stupid little problem that could cost us the World Championship. I hope Insha’allah for tomorrow.
Nineteen of the 21 entrants lined up on the start pontoon for the three qualifying sessions. Maverick Racing’s Béranger Robert missed out with the team down to just one boat and Matthew Palfreyman’s team changed the Dragon boat’s fuel pump to rectify issues from the morning’s practice but an electrical problem with the radio sidelined the Englishman at the 11th hour. Victory Team drivers, Shaun Torrente and Ahmed Al-Hameli, switched to a DAC and BABA for their respective qualifying stints after a successful test in Dubai this week.
Seven of the 19 would be eliminated in Q1 as the wind strengthened slightly. Chiappe leapt to the top of the early standings with a lap of 48.20sec only to be passed by Torrente and Filip Roms with 13 of the 20 minutes remaining. Carella eventually topped the times in the session with a flying tour of 47.36sec, as Rashed and Thani Al-Qemzi were classified in ninth and 12thpositions. Cédric Deguisne, Erik Edin, Duarte Benavente, Grant Trask, Mike Szymura, Francesco Cantando and Sami Selio were eliminated to leave 12 boats set for Q2, with Selio complaining of a wrong propeller choice. One second separated the top 11 drivers.
Six drivers would miss out on the six-boat Q3 shoot-out after the 15 minutes of Q2. Andersson laid down the early gauntlet with a lap of 47.56sec and that was soon surpassed by Carella’s lap of 47.25sec and Chiappe’s 47.23sec tour. Stark made it safely through with an even quicker run of 47.14sec, but Carella won the session with a best time of 46.81sec. Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi, Peter Morin, Filip Roms, Marit Strømøy and Torrente were eliminated.
Ahmed Al-Hameli was the first driver to post a target time in Q3 as the light began to fade. He carded a 45.87sec opener and was not able to match that on his second run. Andersson was next up and fell short with a first tour of 46.15sec before aborting his second attempt and that opened the door for Chiappe to stake his claim on pole position.
The defending World Champion opened with a 46.13sec and was not able to improve on his second run and fell short of grabbing pole on a race he must win. Stark opened his account with a pole-setting time of 45.27sec and that was quicker than his second lap, but Marszalek and Carella still had their chance.
The Pole discounted his opening lap and then leapt into second position with a stunning second run of 45.75sec. Carella opened with a lap of 45.32sec to move into second and snatched pole with a dramatic and memorable last lap of 45.01sec.
A mere 0.90 seconds separated the top nine drivers in the morning’s one-hour practice. The bragging rights swapped and changed throughout the session, with Stark, Rashed Al-Qemzi, Carella and Chiappe all topping the times until Marszalek snatched the fastest time literally seconds from the end.
Mike Szymura managed to acquire an engine to enable him to take part in the session where the fastest lap of 45.88sec fell to Bartek Marszalek. Stark (45.97sec) and Chiappe (46.28sec) were second and third and Carella, Rashed and Thani Al-Qemzi settled into fifth, sixth and 10th positions. Neither of the Maverick drivers took to the water.
F4-S – race 1
Tom Chiappe led Rudolf Mihaldinecz and Wu Bingchen into the 22-lap race from lights out and the triple World Champion’s son began to pull away from his rivals and built up a useful lead as Mihaldinecz gave chase. Louise Vella began to slip down the running order as the processional race progressed and Al-Mansoori consolidated fourth position from Wu Bingchen.
The leading duo began to pull away and Chiappe reached the chequered flag 3.36 seconds second clear of the veteran Hungarian to claim a first ever F4-S Trophy win. Wu Bingchen finished third, Al-Mansoori claimed vital points for fourth and Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi kept his slim title hopes alive with fifth place. Vella finished seventh and Al-Romaithi was ninth.
Jeremy Brisset crashed heavily in Wednesday afternoon’s free practice, suffered a cut to his leg that needed medical treatment and only managed four laps in a session that was won by Vella from Al-Mehairbi and young Chiappe. It meant the Frenchman was forced to miss the rest of the day’s action.
Chiappe dominated the morning’s practice session with a lap of 50.04sec from Al-Mansoori and Mihaldinecz, as Vella clipped a turn buoy and finished fourth and Brisset sat out the stint. Al-Mehairbi and Al-Romaithi were sixth and ninth. Chiappe went on to earn pole position in the timed trials with a lap of 49.76sec, as Mihaldinecz and Wu Bingchen completed the top three positions and the Team Abu Dhabi duo of Al-Mehairbi and Al-Romaithi qualified in fifth and ninth.
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 and the climax to a thrilling season fires into life at 16.00hrs.
2017 Grand Prix of Sharjah – BRM Qualifying:
1. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 45.01sec
2. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Sweden 45.27sec
3. Bartek Marszalak (POL) Blaze F1 Team 45.75sec
4. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team 45.87sec
5. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 46.13sec
6. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden 46.15sec
7. Marit Strømøy (NOR) Emirates Racing Team 47.34sec
8. Filip Roms (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 47.38sec
9. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team 47.83sec
10. Peter Morin (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 47.94sec
11. Rashed Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 48.02sec
12. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 48.13sec
13. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 48.55sec
14. Erik Edin (SWE) Team Sweden 49.19sec
15. Cédric Deguisne (FRA) Maverick F1 Team 49.40sec
16. Mike Szymura (DEU) Emirates Racing Team 49.42sec
17. Grant Trask (AUS) F1 Atlantic Team 50.22sec
18. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team 50.25sec
19. Francesco Cantando (ITA) Blaze F1 Team 54.23sec
Matthew Palfreyman (GBR) Emirates Racing Team DNS
Béranger Robert (FRA) Maverick F1 Team DNS
2017 UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Trophy – final positions:
1. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 79pts
2. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Sweden 69pts
3. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 65pts
4. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team 58pts
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 12pts
8. Bartek Marszalak (POL) Blaze F1 Team 12pts
10. Grant Trask (AUS) F1 Atlantic Team 7pts
11. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden 5pts
11. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team 5pts
2017 F4-S Trophy – latest positions:
1. Mansoor Al-Mansoori (UAE) Victory Team 104pts
2. Jeremy Brisset (FRA) F1 Atlantic Team 93pts
3. Mohammed Al-Mehairbi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 84pts
4. Louise Vella (AUS) Team Sweden 73pts
5. Wu Bingchen (CHN) CTIC F1 China Team 49pts
6. Corentin Guesnel (FRA) Maverick F1 40pts
7. Rudolf Mihaldinecz (HUN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 36pts
8. Kalle Viippo (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing Team 29pts
9. Tom Chiappe (FRA) Emirates Racing Team 20pts
10. Mohamed Al-Yamahi (UAE) Victory Team 16pts
11. Sebastien Haugaard (SWE) Team Sweden 15pts
12. Mohamed Al-Matlae (UAE) Victory Team 13pts
13. Damon Cohen (AUS) Blaze Performance 8pts
13. Rashed Al-Romaithi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 8pts
Timetable of events
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 18th Grand Prix of Sharjah