Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella and Rashed Al-Qemzi qualify in seventh and 15th positions

 HARBIN (CHINA): Saturday, August 12:  Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al-Qemzi narrowly missed out on pole position to Team Sweden’s Erik Stark for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Harbin, round three of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship, at the Hulan Estuary Wetland Park.

 The Swede had set the target lap of 40.65 seconds and Al-Qemzi fell just 0.13 seconds short in a thrilling end to an action-placed BRM Qualifying session that saw spectacular crashes for Frenchman Amaury Jousseaume and double World Champion Sami Selio and an eventual third place for the Victory Team’s Ahmed Al-Hameli.

 Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella narrowly missed out on Q3 after carding a fast lap seconds after the session had finished and he will start the race from seventh position. Rashed Al-Qemzi missed out on Q2 with a fastest qualifying lap of 44.61sec and will start from 15th in the third Team Abu Dhabi DAC.

 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 auspices of the ADIMSC and board member and general manager Salem Al-Remeithi and team manager Guido Cappellini.

 “It was another tense and very close qualifying session but Thani and Alex have shown today that they have the speed and we have the boat set-up to be able to challenge hard for the race win on Sunday,” said Salem Al-Remeithi, general manager of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC).

 Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi moved up to fourth in the UIM F4-S Trophy standings after claiming pole position and finishing second behind Mansoor Al-Mansoori of the Emirates Racing Team in the first of the weekend’s two 25-lap F4-S races.

 BRM Qualifying

 Nineteen drivers from 11 nations lined up for the 20 minutes of the opening Q1 session on a shortened course and Erik Stark set the bar early on with a lap of 42.27sec. Fuel tank issues sidelined Italian veteran Francesco Cantando and engine problems forced Grant Trask out of contention after just two laps.

 Thani Al-Qemzi booked his place in Q2 with a time of 42.97sec, but French rookie Amaury Jousseaume of the Maverick F1 Team spectacularly flipped out of qualifying and forced a yellow flag situation after eight minutes of the session. Seven boats would miss out on Q2 and action resumed with just eight minutes remaining. Carella stormed through with a lap of 42.66sec, but Rashed Al-Qemzi was still down in 14th position with five minutes to run. He eventually missed out on Q2, qualified 15th, as Cedric Deguisne, Mike Szymura and Peter Morin were also sidelined.

 Six further drivers would be eliminated in a 15-minute Q2 session before the six-boat Q3 shoot-out. Shaun Torrente carded the target time of 42.16sec in slightly rougher conditions than drivers had faced in the morning’s practice and Sami Selio closed in with a 42.40sec tour. Ahmed Al-Hameli then hit the front with a lap of 42.10sec and Al-Qemzi lifted himself into sixth with a 42.35sec, but Carella was still to show his hand with nine minutes to run when Selio barrel-rolled out of fourth place and the session was yellow-flagged.

 Racing resumed with just four minutes remaining and Carella was under pressure to beat his team-mate’s sixth fastest time of 42.35sec. The Italian improved with a 42.65sec lap and moved up to seventh and replaced Al-Qemzi in sixth with a 42.30sec, but Al-Qemzi stormed back with a stunning lap of 41.89sec to claim the fastest time that pushed Carella back to seventh. But Carella carded a 41.91sec in the dying seconds to push Philippe Chiappe out of the top six and into seventh. Al-Hameli, Torrente, Stark and Selio also qualified, but Carella’s lap was later discounted, he slipped back to seventh and Chiappe was given a stay of execution and managed to stay in contention.

 Selio was unable to join Q3 after his accident so Chiappe was given the go-ahead to set the Q3 target time of 41.36sec on the first of his two laps. Stark was next up and moved ahead of the Frenchman with a first lap of 41.05sec and a second tour of 40.65sec. Torrente slotted into second on his first lap with a 41.23sec, but was unable to improve on his second tour.

 Torrente’s Victory Team colleague Al-Hameli opened up with a 40.83sec and that lifted him into second and that paved the way for Al-Qemzi to start with a 40.78sec lap that moved him into second behind Stark, who claimed an impressive pole position for Team Sweden.

 Practice

 Carella had clocked the fastest lap in Friday afternoon’s free practice session with a quickest tour of 42.76sec. Only the Team Abu Dhabi driver and Erik Stark (42.92sec) broke the 43-second barrier, with Thani Al-Qemzi seventh with a 43.83sec lap and Rashed Al-Qemzi in 15th of the 19 boats with a best lap of 45.81sec.

 “We found a good pace and a good set-up for qualifying,” said Carella. “We tested several different propellers, varied our set-ups and the boat handled well. The circuit is a little longer than last year and there was a bit of wind and some waves.”

 Team Sweden’s Jonas Andersson topped the times in Saturday morning’s practice session with Thani Al-Qemzi, Carella and Rashed Al-Qemzi locked in second, fifth and 15th positions.

 F4-S – race 1

 Race one winner Jeremy Brisset dominated the first free practice session, but it was a different story in the all-important time trials and Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi claimed pole position with a lap of 45.86sec. That was sufficient for the Emirati to beat the Emirates Racing Team’s Mansoor Al-Mansoori by 0.74 seconds. Mohamed Al-Yamahi of the Victory Team made it a UAE 1-2-3 with a lap of 46.64 seconds.

 Al-Mehairbi was not able to convert pole position into a race win, however, and the Team Abu Dhabi driver reached the chequered flag, after 25 laps, 0.83 seconds behind Al-Mansoori with Finland’s Kalle Viippo in third and rookie Louise Vella of Team Sweden finishing fourth of the nine starters. The win promoted Al-Mansoori into the series lead and Al-Mehairbi into fourth.

 Further free F4-S practice and time trials precede F1 free practice from 09.45hrs on Sunday morning and the second of the F4-S races starts at 11.10hrs. The Grand Prix of Harbin roars into life at 14.00hrs (09.00hrs UAE time) on Sunday afternoon.

 2017 Grand Prix of Harbin – BRM Qualifying result:

1. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Sweden                                                               40.65sec

2. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                    40.78sec

3. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team                                                     40.83sec

4. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team                                                     41.23sec

5. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team                        41.36sec             

6. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing                                   DNS

7. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                                           42.30sec

15. Rashed Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                    44.61sec

 2017 UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Trophy – positions after round 3:

1. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Sweden                                                               32pts

1. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team                                                                32pts

3. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team                        31pts    

4. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team                                                     29pts

5. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                                           27pts

6. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                    24pts

7. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing                                   17pts               

8. Grant Trask (AUS) F1 Atlantic Team                                                    7pts      

9. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team                                    5pts

 2017 UIM F4-S Trophy – latest positions:

1. Mansoor Al-Mansoori (UAE) Emirates Racing Team                      29pts    

2. Kalle Viippo (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing                                       24pts

3. Jeremy Brisset (FRA) F1 Atlantic Team                                                   23pts

4. Mohammed Al-Mehairbi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                      22pts               

5. Sebastien Haugaard (SWE) Team Sweden                                               15pts                    

6. Mohamed Al-Yamahi (UAE) Victory Team                                    11pts                                    

7. Corentin Guesnel (FRA) Maverick F1                                              10pts                                                                                

8. Louise Vella (AUS) Team Sweden                                                                9pts

9. Damon Cohen (AUS) Blaze Performance                                                4pts

10. Bingchen Wu (CHN) CTIC F1 China Team                                     2pts