Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi qualify in seventh and eighth positions
LIUZHOU (CHINA): Saturday, September 30: Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella stormed to pole position for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Liuzhou, round four of the 2017 UIM F1 H2O World Championship, with a flying lap of 44.42 seconds in a nail-biting Q3 qualifying session.
The Italian was over half a second faster than four-time F2 World Champion Erik Stark and 0.37sec ahead of third-placed Ahmed Al-Hameli of Dubai’s Victory Team.
A relaxed Carella said, who now also jointly leads the UIM F1 Pole Position Championship with Stark, said: “A fourth pole for me in Luizhou. It was really important for me to be in pole position. I will not feel any pressure because this is not the first time I have been in this position, but we need to make a good choice for the set-up now in the warm-up for the race. This seems to be my lucky place. It’s important that we maintain everything for the race.”
Norway’s Marit Stromoy qualified in fourth place, triple World Champion Philippe Chiappe settled into fifth and Team Sweden’s Jonas Andersson was sixth, although he faces a race against time to repair his boat for the race after engine issues forced him to miss the Q3 session.
A spectacular crash for two-time World Champion Sami Selio brought the second qualifying session to a premature conclusion and meant that both Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi ran out of time to improve on their seventh and eighth positions for the starting line-up for Sunday’s race.
Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi continues to hold third place in the F4-S Trophy standings after finishing fourth in the first of the weekend’s two 20-minute races on the Liu River. Fifteen-year-old Aussie rookie Louise Vella claimed her first victory, while second place for Jeremy Brisset moved the Frenchman to the top of the points’ standings.
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.
Qualifying was split into its traditional three sessions on the six-pin course. Stark laid down the gauntlet with a lap of 47.01sec at the start of the 20 minutes of Q1. Seven of the 19 entrants would be eliminated, as Torrente hit the top of the standings with a 46.75sec tour, only to be re-passed by Stark and Andersson.
Heading into the last five minutes, Carella and Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi held fifth, seventh and ninth positions and all three held on to secure their positions in Q2 with Rashed Al-Qemzi storming through to second with a stunning lap of 46.33sec. Amaury Jousseaume, Cedric Deguisne, Duarte Benavente, Francesco Cantando, Bartak Marsalak, Filip Roms and Peter Morin were eliminated after Grant Trask escaped in the dying seconds.
A further six boats were eliminated in the 15 minutes of Q2. Andersson opened his account with a lap of 45.92sec to set the target for his 11 rivals, but Chiappe bettered that time with a 45.34sec tour. With 10 minutes to go, Thani Al-Qemzi, Carella and Rashed Al-Qemzi were sixth, seventh and eighth and in need of some improvement over the closing minutes. Carella moved up to second with a lap of 45.50sec, only to be pushed back to third by Ahmed Al-Hameli.
The yellow flag was raised with three minutes to go when Andersson stopped on the course with technical woes after Sami Selio clipped a rogue wave and barrel-rolled his BaBa. The clock ran down under the yellow flag and meant that both Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi were unable to improve on their seventh and eighth positions. Grant Trask, Mike Szymura, Shaun Torrente and Selio also failed to make Q3 with trim issues frustrating Torrente.
Even though Andersson qualified for Q3 in sixth place, the Swede was forced to miss the Q3 shoot-out because of engine issues at the end of Q2. That meant that Marit Stromoy was the first on to the water for Q3 and she laid down the target with an opening lap of 45.67sec. Harbin race winner Stark was next up for Team Sweden and he opened up with a 44.81sec lap and improved still further with a stunning run of 44.74sec to move to the top of the standings.
Carella needed to be at his very best and the Team Abu Dhabi driver opened with a flying lap of 44.59sec and emphasised his dominance with an even faster run of 44.42sec to snatch provisional pole. Al-Hameli and Chiappe were the only drivers now able to prevent Carella from snatching pole position. The Emirati opened with a lap of 44.79sec and was unable to beat his opening run on lap two. Chiappe began with a lap of 45.74sec and was not able to claim pole on his second lap of 45.68sec and settled into fifth place.
Carella dominated Friday afternoon’s free practice session. The DAC driver ran for 30 laps and posted the fastest time of 44.53sec, which was just under half a second faster than Harbin race winner Erik Stark. Thani Al-Qemzi shadowed Chiappe in fourth place and Rashed Al-Qemzi was 11th of the 18 drivers who took to the water.
Chiappe claimed his revenge with the fastest lap of 45.91sec in Saturday morning’s red-flagged official practice session held in torrential rain. Stark was again second and the Team Abu Dhabi trio of Carella, Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi were fourth, seventh and 11th.
F4-S - race 1
Only seven boats contested the first of the two F4-S races and pole winner Louise Vella claimed her first victory for Team Sweden, the Aussie crossing the finish line 19.76sec ahead of Frenchman Jeremy Brisset and China’s Bingchen Wu. Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi and former series leader Mansoor Al-Mansoori of the Emirates Racing Team were fourth and fifth. Brisset now leads the series by seven points from Al-Mansoori. Al-Mehairbi is third.
Further F4 free practice and timed trials start at 08.30hrs on Sunday (October 1) morning and will be followed by the final F1 practice session and the second of the F4 races. The 2017 Grand Prix of Liuzhou takes centre stage on the Liu River from 14.00hrs (10.00hrs UAE time).
2017 Grand Prix of Liuzhou – BRM Qualifying result:
1. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 44.42sec
2. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Sweden 44.74sec
3. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team 44.79sec
4. Marit Stromoy (NOR) EMIC Racing Team 45.67sec
5. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 45.68sec
6. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden 45.92sec
7. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 46.21sec
8. Rashed Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 46.42sec
2017 UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Trophy – positions after round 3:
1. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 47pts
1. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Sweden 47pts
3. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team 44pts
4. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 38pts
5. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team 29pts
6. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 24pts
7. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing 17pts
8. Marit Stromoy (NOR) EMIC Racing Team 9pts
9. Grant Trask (AUS) F1 Atlantic Team 7pts
10. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team 5pts
10. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden 5pts
2017 UIM F4-S Trophy – latest positions:
1. Jeremy Brisset (FRA) F1 Atlantic Team 58pts
2. Mansoor Al-Mansoori (UAE) Emirates Racing Team 51pts
3. Mohammed Al-Mehairbi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 43pts
4. Louise Vella (AUS) Team Sweden 38pts
5. Kalle Viippo (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing 29pts
6. Bingchen Wu (CHN) CTIC F1 China Team 19pts
7. Corentin Guesnel (FRA) Maverick F1 17pts
8. Mohamed Al-Yamahi (UAE) Victory Team 16pts
9. Sebastien Haugaard (SWE) Team Sweden 15pts
10. Damon Cohen (AUS) Blaze Performance 8pts