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Norwegian becomes first lady driver to score F1 race victory; Carella, Al-Qamzi deliver second world crown to UAE capital

 Abu Dhabi, UAE, December 18: Norway’s Marit Stromoy won the Grand Prix of Sharjah today for the first ever race victory by a woman driver in the history of the F1H20 World Championship, while Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella and Thani Al-Qamzi rounded off their first season together by clinching the world teams title.

 Carella’s second place finish to Stromoy also ensured he claimed runner’s up spot in the drivers’ championship behind Frenchman Philippe Chiappe who took the crown in Abu Dhabi eight days earlier but went out on the 19th lap with mechanical problems today while leading.

 Al-Qamzi also suffered a later retirement with mechanical issues, but the Emirati and Italian three-times world champion Carella brought the teams title to the UAE capital for the first time, topping the team standings by 17 points from CTIC China’s Chiappe and Ziwei Xiong.

 “We had a nice race, but after five or six laps I had problems with propellers,” said Carella at the finish. “I almost broke two blades and had no speed on the straights. I tried my best to get close to Marit and pass her but she was fast and not letting me through.

 “But I’m very pleased that we have won the teams championship, and that I’ve finished second in the drivers’ championship. I’m happy for all the team. To do this in our first season together is a big achievement.”

 This was Team Abu Dhabi’s second world championship success of the season after Gary Ballough and John Tomlinson delivered the ever UIM Class 1 crown to Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club last month.

 It means this season goes down as the most successful to date for the team, which runs under the patronage of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Advisor to the UAE President and the club’s chairman, and is sponsored by Etihad Airways, the official carrier, Marina Mall and Nirvana Travel & Tourism.

 Engine issues cost Chiappe his early lead and the EMIC Team’s Stromoy took up the reins, holding off a fierce challenge from Carella to confirm her Grand Prix breakthough. The winning margin for the Norwegian was a mere 4.70 seconds after a stunning drive into the history books as she became the first woman ever to win a motor sport event at the highest level.

 Chiappe had made the best start and passed pole-sitter Erik Stark to snatch the early lead from Stromoy, Carella, Stark, Torrente and Selio. Al-Qamzi slipped to eighth before moving back to seventh, as Chiappe gradually pulled away from the chasing pack.

 But the current world champion’s demise promoted Carella to second, Al-Qamzi to sixth and, with Ziong having already fallen by the wayside, gifted the UIM teams’ title to Team Abu Dhabi with 25 of 43 laps remaining.

 Stromoy maintained her composure through lap 25, although Carella was breathing down her neck in second and Stark was a close third. Andersson managed to pass Al-Qamzi on lap 30 to take sixth and the Emirati was then forced to withdraw from the race. Portugal’s Duarte Benavente also retired and his demise promoted Nadir Bin Hendi into the top 10.

 The Norwegian held her nerve over the closing stages while Torrente passed Stark in the dying seconds to claim third place.

 Earlier, Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi and Rashed Al-Qamzi rounded off their highly encouraging 2015 F-4S Trophy campaigns by finishing fourth and sixth respectively in the final race of the season, and the championship.

 After his opening lap flip and eventual disqualification the previous day after he had finished in first place, Al-Mehairbi needed a good start in the final race of the season. But both he and Al-
Qemzi made poor starts and finished in fourth and sixth places as Finn Anton Nyholm won again from Germany’s new world champion, Mike Szymura.

 2015 Grand Prix of Sharjah – result:

1. Marit Stromoy NOR) EMIC Team                                     43 laps

2. Alex Carella (ITA) Team Abu Dhabi                                 +4.70sec

3. Shaun Torrente (QAT) Victory Team                                 +12.73 sec

4. Erik Stark (SWE) Emirates Team                                       +16.50 sec

5. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team                +18.34 sec

6. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden                             +50.21 sec

7. Ahmed Al-Hameli (ARE) Emirates Team                          L1

8. Jesper Forss (SWE) Team Sweden                                     L1

 2015 UIM F1 H2O World Championship – final standings (provisional):

1. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) China CTIC Team                       70 pts

2. Alex Carella (ITA) Team Abu Dhabi                                 54 pts

3. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team                                 51 pts

4. Yousef Al-Rubayan (KUW) F1 GC Atlantic Team           38 pts

4. Marit Stromoy (NOR) Team Nautica                                 38 pts

6. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Nautica                                         36 pts

7. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team                35 pts

8. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden                             34 pts

9. Thani Al-Qamzi (ARE) Team Abu Dhabi                          32 pts

10. Filip Roms (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team              19 pts

 2015 UIM F1 H2O Teams’ Championship – final standings:

1. Team Abu Dhabi                                                                 88 pts

2. CTIC China Team                                                               71 pts

3. Team EMIC                                                                        56 pts

4. Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team                                            54 pts

5. F1 GC Atlantic Team                                                         47 pts

6. Team Sweden                                                                     44 pts

7. Emirates Team                                                                    36 pts

8. Victory Team                                                                      33 pts                                     

 2015 UIM F-4S Trophy – final standings:

1. Mike Szymura (DEU) F1 GC Atlantic Team                     124 pts                                   

2. Anton Nyholm (FIN) Team Sweden                                  80 pts

3. Joakhim Halvorsen (NOR) Team EMIC                            63 pts

4. Mohammed Al-Mehairbi (ARE) Team Abu Dhabi            60 pts

5. Ferdinand Zandbergen (NED) Mad-Croc Baba Racing    55 pts

6. Rashed Al-Qemzi (ARE) Team Abu Dhabi                       47 pts                                     

7. Bingchen Wu (CHN) CTIC China Team                           38 pts

7. Mansoor Al-Mansoori (ARE) Emirates Team                    38 pts


 1.    Top three on the podium (from left) Alex Carella, Marit Stromoy and Shaun Torrente

 2.    H.E. Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qassimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Centre, presented the world teams title to Team Abu Dhabi manager Guido Capellini

 3.      Team Abu Dhabi's Alex Carella – runner up in the drivers’ championship

 4.      Thani Al Qamzi – won the world teams title with Carella.