Technical issues sideline Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella before half distance in Liuzhou race

Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qamzi wins second F4-S race to extend series lead to 36 points

LIUZHOU (CHINA): Monday, October 3:  Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella was forced out of contention from a pulsating Grand Prix of Liuzhou with technical issues after 17 of the race’s 50 laps and his demise carved a clean path for Ahmed Al-Hameli of the Emirates Racing Team to claim a stunning victory on the fifth round of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship on Monday afternoon. 

 A delighted Al-Hameli last won a round of the series in Doha Bay in 2012, but the Emirati delivered a superb performance from pole position on the Liu River course to fend off a superb challenge from double World Champion and series leader Philippe Chiappe to record his stunning win. 

 Carella’s second successive disappointment gives the Team Abu Dhabi driver an uphill battle to now win the 2016 UIM F1 H2O World Championship for the fourth time. The Italian trails series leader Chiappe by 25 points, with 40 points available at the remaining two rounds in December. Team-mate Thani Al-Qamzi delivered a solid performance in the second DAC boat and reached the finish in sixth position.

 Double World Champion Sami Selio remained in title contention with the final podium position and Shaun Torrente of the Victory Team stayed in second place in the Drivers’ Championship, albeit 13 points behind Chiappe. Team Abu Dhabi lost further ground in the UIM F1 H2O Teams’ series, with the CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team now leading by 11 points from Mad Croc Baba Racing. 

 Rashed Al-Qamzi extended his lead in the 2016 UIM F4-S Championship to a commanding 36 points with four races to run, courtesy of an excellent 3.63sec victory in the second of the races on the Liu River. His closest rival for the series, Ferdinand Zandbergen, was second and Mohamed Al-Yamahi of the Victory Team delivered a career-best third place. 

 The win was the ever-improving Al-Qamzi’s eighth successive podium finish and third win in a dominant season of F4-S racing. Team-mate Mohammed Al-Mehairbi reached the chequered flag in fourth. Race one winner and pole sitter Jeremy Brisset ground to a halt on the 13th of 16 laps and the yellow flag incident meant that the remaining boats faced a two-lap sprint to the finish. 

 “Mixed feelings for the team obviously after this weekend’s racing in Liuzhou,” said Salem Al-Romaithi, assistant general manager of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC).  “It was another superb performance by Rashed Al-Qamzi and he has a strong lead now in the F4-S series, but it was a disappointing weekend for Alex in his bid for the world title and we have work to do at the last two rounds to make up the lost ground on our rivals.”

 Team Abu Dhabi is supported by Etihad Airways as the official carrier and sponsor 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 (ADIMSC). The racing team runs under the auspices of the ADIMSC, racing manager Guido Cappellini and Salem Al-Remeithi.

 Grand Prix of Liuzhou

 Carella lined up at the start of the 50-lap race in third position behind Al-Hameli and Chiappe, with Al-Qamzi in eighth place and the morning’s practice session winner Jonas Andersson down in 18th after being forced to change his engine on Saturday evening.

 With the in-form Selio breathing down his neck and Torrente just three places behind, it was vital that Carella got a clean start to the first turn buoy. Al-Hameli held his line from Chiappe, but Selio managed to sneak passed Carella into third. Al-Qamzi climbed to seventh place and Andersson surged into 11th and then overtook Francesco Cantando to snatch 10th position.

 By lap five, Al-Hameli led Chiappe by 2.99 seconds, as Selio, Carella and Torrente trailed in their wake and Andersson overtook Duarte Benavente to snatch ninth. The leading group held station through 10 laps, although Poland’s Bartak Marszalak became the first retirement of the 18 entrants on the seventh lap and Andersson could find no way to overtake Marit Stromoy and take eighth. But the Swede managed to pass the Norwegian and snatch eighth on lap 16 when Stromoy ground to a halt with technical issues.

 At two-thirds distance, after lap 20, Al-Hameli’s lead over Chiappe was around three seconds, but Carella had hit technical trouble on lap 17 and plummeted down the field. His demise lifted Torrente into fourth, Stark to fifth and Al-Qamzi into sixth place, although Carella stayed out on the course for a handful of extra laps and continued to drop time to his rivals with trim issues on his DAC.

 With 10 laps to run, Torrente continued to apply the pressure on Selio for third position, as Al-Hameli led from Chiappe by 3.16 seconds and Al-Qamzi retained sixth. The Emirates Racing Team driver maintained his impressive pace to fend off a charging Chiappe to the chequered flag and confirm a memorable victory by 6.37 seconds, as Chiappe slowed at the end and picked up 15 valuable championship points for second place and Selio and Torrente retained in title contention with third and fourth positions.

 Despite failing to put in a competitive time during BRM Qualifying on Sunday afternoon because of engine issues, Team Sweden’s Jonas Andersson stormed to the top of the lap times in Sunday morning’s second practice session with a tour of 45.94sec. Carella and Al-Qamzi ran for 22 and 18 laps respectively to find their perfect race set-up and Carella was rewarded with the second fastest lap of 46.03 seconds.

 The UIM F1 H2O racing calendar now shifts attention to the remaining two races of the year in the Middle East in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in December.

 2016 Grand Prix of Liuzhou – result:

1. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Emirates Racing Team                      50 laps

2. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team                        @6.37sec

3. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing                                   @12.68sec

4. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team                                                     @17.37sec

5. Erik Stark (SWE) Emirates Racing Team                                      @32.90sec

6. Thani Al-Qamzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                    L1

7. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden                                               L1

8. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team                                     L1

9. Mike Szymura (DEU) EMIC Racing Team                                     L2

10. Filip Roms (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing                                                L2                                                                

 2016 UIM F1H2O World Championship – Drivers’ Championship standings:

1. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team                        67 pts                                    

2. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team                                                     54 pts                                                                                                          

3. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing                                   47 pts                                                          

4. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                                    42 pts                          

5. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden                                               37 pts                                    

6. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Emirates Racing Team                      25 pts                    

7. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team                                     19 pts

7. Erik Stark (SWE) Emirates Racing Team                                      19 pts                                    

9. Filip Roms (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing                                   18 pts, etc

 2016 UIM F4-S Trophy – latest positions:

1. Rashed Al-Qamzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                    126 pts                                            

2. Ferdinand Zandbergen (NLD) Baba Racing                                  90 pts

3. Kalle Viippo (FIN) Team Sweden                                                               62 pts

3. Jeremy Brisset (FRA) F1 Atlantic Team                                                   62 pts

5. Mohamed Al-Yamahi (UAE) Victory Team                                    55 pts

6. Bingchen Wu (CHN) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team                                50 pts

7. Mohammed Al-Mehairbi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                      44 pts

8. Tom Chiappe (FRA) EMIC Racing Team                                                37 pts

9. Magnus Sederholm (FIN) Team Sweden                                               35 pts

10. Paolo Longhi (ITA) Blaze Performance Team                                    16 pts

11. Ali Bin Shaiban (UAE) Emirates Racing Team                                      15 pts