Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi finish Liuzhou race in sixth and 11th places

 LIUZHOU (CHINA): Sunday, October 1:  Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella extended his advantage to 16 points in the 2017 UIM F1 H2O World Championship after leading China’s Grand Prix of Liuzhou from start-to-finish on Sunday.

 The three-time World Champion held off a fierce challenge from Team Sweden’s Erik Stark to reach the chequered flag 4.47 seconds in front of his series rival and 10.74 seconds ahead of defending champion Philippe Chiappe. The Victory Team duo of Ahmed Al-Hameli and Shaun Torrente finished fourth and fifth.

 Despite one yellow flag interruption to reposition a displaced turn buoy, Carella was in a class of the field in his new boat and sixth position for Team Abu Dhabi team-mate Thani Al-Qemzi enabled the team running out of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) to extend its advantage in the UIM Teams’ Championship to 29 points over Team Sweden. Carella’s 14th career F1 win also moved him into a tie with Welshman Jonathan Jones in the Hall of Fame.

 Rashed Al-Qemzi looked set for his first ever haul of championship points but slipped down to 11th position over the closing laps in the third of the Team Abu Dhabi boats.

 Carella said: “This was such an important victory for me and puts the team in a great position heading to the last two races in the Middle East in the winter. The new boat was fantastic. I felt confident all weekend and all the hard work has been rewarded. Now we head back to Abu Dhabi in a very strong position and have the opportunity to win the title with victory at our own Grand Prix.”

 Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi moved into a three-way tie for second place in the UIM F4-S Trophy standings, courtesy of his second position in race two in Liuzhou. Aussie rookie Louise Vella is tied with the Emirati and Frenchman Jeremy Brisset on 58 points - two behind series leader Mansoor Al-Mansoori of the Emirates Racing Team - after claiming her second victory of the season.

 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.

 GP of Liuzhou – the race

 Team Abu Dhabi’s Carella and Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi lined-up in pole position, seventh and eighth for the start of the 48-lap race on the Liu River. Carella’s closest series rival Sami Selio was 18th after a spectacular crash wrecked his qualifying session. Torrente lined up in 10th and defending champion Chiappe was fifth in sunny conditions on the Liu River.

 Carella maintained his lead from the start and headed Stark, Al-Hameli and Chiappe – who passed Marit Stromoy – through the opening few laps. Thani Al-Qemzi maintained seventh, but Torrente overtook Rashed Al-Qemzi to take eighth place. Torrente also managed to find a way past Thani Al-Qemzi and into seventh as the race headed into laps five and six.

 By lap 10, Carella’s lead over Stark had grown to 6.89 seconds as the duo began to pull clear of third-placed Al-Hameli, Chiappe, Stromoy, Andersson and Torrente. Carella’s lead had increased to 12.04 seconds by the time a yellow flag was raised on lap 13, as Selio’s miserable weekend continued at the rear of the field and a turn buoy was dislodged on the course.

 Racing resumed on lap 21 and Carella maintained his lead from Stark, but Chiappe overtook Al-Hameli to snatch third. Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi resumed in eighth and ninth positions, but Torrente moved ahead of Andersson to seize sixth. Carella extended his advantage to 5.67 seconds through lap 25, but Rashed Al-Qemzi slipped behind Mike Szymura and into 10th position and Duarte Benavente retired soon afterwards with technical issues.

 With 11 laps remaining, Carella led Stark by 4.3 seconds from Chiappe, Al-Hameli, Stromoy and Torrente. Thani Al-Qemzi moved up to seventh at the expense of a retiring Andersson, but Rashed Al-Qemzi fell out of the top 10.

 Stromoy ceded fifth to Torrente and was also overtaken by Thani Al-Qemzi and fell to seventh place before falling out of the top 10. Carella held on to reach the chequered flag and extend his lead in the World Championship to 16 points, as Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi finished the race in sixth and 11th positions.

 Practice

 Stark mastered the course better than his rivals in the second practice session on Sunday morning. The Team Sweden driver ran for 24 laps and carded a fastest time of 46.25sec to win the stint from Torrente. Carella, Thani Al-Qemzi and Rashed Al-Qemzi used the hour to finalise their race set-ups and slotted into fourth, fifth and 12th.

 F4-S - race 2

 Fifteen-year-old Australian girl Louise Vella claimed pole position for the second successive day and stormed to a back-to-back start-to-finish victory in F4-S to put herself firmly into contention for the title with four races remaining in the UAE.

 The rookie reached the chequered flag 12.08 seconds in front of Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi, with Corentin Guesnel of France rounding off the podium places. Mansoor Al-Mansoori was fourth and Bingcheng Wu was fifth but technical issues sidelined Kalle Viippo before the start and Brisset withdrew after qualifying in second position.

 2017 Grand Prix of Liuzhou – result:

1. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                                           48 laps

2. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Sweden                                                               @4.47sec

3. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team                        @10.74sec                        

4. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team                                                                @25.74sec

5. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team                                                     @30.38sec

6. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                    @39.35sec

7. Mike Szymura (DEU) EMIC Racing Team                                     L1

8. Bartek Marszalak (POL) Blaze Performance Team                     L1

11. Rashed Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                    L1

 2017 UIM F1 H2O World Championship – positions after round 4:

1. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                                    58pts   

2. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Sweden                                                               42pts   

3. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team                        39pts    

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                                    25pts 

7. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team                                                     19pts  

8. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team                                     14pts

8. Bartek Marszalak (POL) Blaze Performance Team                     14pts

10. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden                                               12pts, etc 

2017 UIM F4-S Trophy – latest positions:

1. Mansoor Al-Mansoori (UAE) Emirates Racing Team                      60pts    

2. Jeremy Brisset (FRA) F1 Atlantic Team                                                   58pts

2. Mohammed Al-Mehairbi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                      58pts               

2. Louise Vella (AUS) Team Sweden                                                                58pts

5. Kalle Viippo (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing                                       29pts

5. Corentin Guesnel (FRA) Maverick F1                                              29pts                                                                                

7. Bingchen Wu (CHN) CTIC F1 China Team                                     26pts

8. Mohamed Al-Yamahi (UAE) Victory Team                                    16pts                                    

9. Sebastien Haugaard (SWE) Team Sweden                                               15pts                    

10. Damon Cohen (AUS) Blaze Performance                                                8pts