Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella moves into eight-point 2017 World Championship lead
HARBIN (CHINA): Sunday, August 13: Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al-Qemzi and Alex Carella finished second and fourth in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Harbin, round three of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship, at the Hulan Estuary Wetland Park.
Team Sweden’s Erik Stark - a four-time F2 World Champion - led from pole position to secure his first ever victory in F1 and leap into contention for the championship title in a race where the Victory Team’s Ahmed Al-Hameli finished third to move up to fifth in the title race.
Carella’s fourth position was sufficient for the Italian to snatch an eight-point lead in the series, after Sami Selio retired with technical issues, rival Shaun Torrente also withdrew and current World Champion Philippe Chiappe finished a distant fifth.
Carella said: “It was really tough. I had a good start. Shaun and Ahmed on my side and I did not want to take risks. At the end I start to think of the championship and not the single race because Sami (Selio) and Shaun were out. I decided to stay quiet. It was a good result for me, for Thani and for Team Abu Dhabi. We are first in the championship and the Teams’ Championship, so it was a good weekend for us.”
Rashed Al-Qemzi currently leads the UIM F2 World Championship but the Team Abu Dhabi driver missed out on his first ever F1 H2O points with 11th position in the third Team Abu Dhabi boat.
Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi moved up to third in the UIM F4-S Trophy standings by finishing the second of the 25-lap F4 races in a similar position behind winner Jeremy Brisset of the F1 Atlantic Team and new series leader Mansoor Al-Mansoori of the Emirates Racing Team.
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.
Grand Prix of Harbin
The Team Abu Dhabi trio lined up in second, sixth and 13th for the race, with Sami Selio and Amaury Jousseaume both starting after their crashes in qualifying, although the Finn slipped from fifth to 15th and this lifted both Carella and Rashed Al-Qemzi. Ahmed Al-Hameli had won the morning’s final practice session from Thani Al-Qemzi and Carella, but Erik Stark led the 19 boats away from the start pontoon and into the 53-lap race.
Stark managed to hold his line through the first turns, as Al-Qemzi maintained second, Shaun Torrente climbed to third and Carella moved ahead of Al-Hameli and into fourth. Rashed Al-Qemzi also moved up three places to 10th as the leaders headed into lap three.
By lap nine, Stark led by 1.97 seconds from Thani Al-Qemzi, as Torrente maintained a close third and Carella, Al-Hameli and Chiappe rounded off the top six. Series leader Selio slipped to the rear of the field and retired after eight laps and the top three bunched up as they closed in on the tail-enders, but the yellow flag was raised on lap 14 while race officials replaced a turn buoy that had been taken out by Marit Stromoy several laps earlier.
The Norwegian was duly disqualified during the yellow flag stoppage, Jousseuame also withdrew, as action resumed on lap 20 with Rashed Al-Qemzi in the points for the first time in ninth place. Al-Hameli was the main beneficiary from the restart and managed to pass Torrente and Carella to snatch third, but birthday boy Torrente dropped back with technical issues and slipped behind Rashed Al-Qemzi and into ninth before retiring after lap 22.
Stark held on to his lead through halfway and began to edge slightly ahead of Thani Al-Qemzi, but the battle was between Al-Hameli and Carella for third place. Chiappe and Jonas Andersson rounded off the top six and Rashed Al-Qemzi retained eighth. The top six held station after 33 laps, but Francesco Cantando withdrew with technical issues.
Stark increased his lead to 5.33 seconds with 14 laps to run, but Rashed Al-Qemzi slipped to ninth behind Filip Roms and then lost his place in the top 10 over the next couple of laps and slipped to an eventual 11th.
Stark, on the other hand, held on over the remaining nervy laps to secure his first ever victory in F1 by the margin of 9.31 seconds, as Thani Al-Qemzi secured second and Al-Hameli held off Carella to round off the podium places.
F4-S – race 2
F1 Atlantic Team’s Jeremy Brisset found the perfect set-up in the morning’s free practice session to set the quickest time of 44.78sec to steal a march on Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi and Aussie rookie Louise Vella. He also beat the Australian by 0.82 seconds in the time trials to claim pole position, with Al-Mehairbi lining up in third.
The 20-minute race saw no change in fortunes either and Brisset held his nerve over the 25 laps to claim a dominant win by 31.5 seconds from Mansoor Al-Mansoori of the Emirates Racing Team. Al-Mehairbi was a close third to round off the podium places, while Vella and Bingchen Wu completed the top five after their own action-packed races. Al-Mansoori now leads the series by a single point from Brisset, with Al-Mehairbi improving to third.
2017 Grand Prix of Harbin – result:
1. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Sweden 53 laps
2. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi @9.31sec
3. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team @13.75sec
4. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi @14.92sec
5. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team @40.90sec
6. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden L1
7. Bartek Marszalak (POL) Blaze Performance Team L1
8. Filip Roms (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing L1
11. Rashed Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi L2
2017 UIM F1 H2O World Championship – positions after round 3:
1. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 38pts
2. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing 30pts
3. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Sweden 27pts
3. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 27pts
5. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team 21pts
6. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 20pts
7. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team 14pts
8. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team 12pts
8. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden 12pts
10. Bartek Marszalak (POL) Blaze Performance Team 11pts, etc
2017 UIM F4-S Trophy – latest positions:
1. Mansoor Al-Mansoori (UAE) Emirates Racing Team 44pts
2. Jeremy Brisset (FRA) F1 Atlantic Team 43pts
3. Mohammed Al-Mehairbi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 34pts
4. Kalle Viippo (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing 24pts
5. Louise Vella (AUS) Team Sweden 18pts
6. Mohamed Al-Yamahi (UAE) Victory Team 16pts
7. Sebastien Haugaard (SWE) Team Sweden 15pts
8. Corentin Guesnel (FRA) Maverick F1 13pts
9. Damon Cohen (AUS) Blaze Performance 8pts
10. Bingchen Wu (CHN) CTIC F1 China Team 7pts