TEAM ABU DHABI’S CARELLA SOMERSAULTS OUT OF QUALIFYING AS ANDERSSON CLAIMS POLE FROM STARK FOR GRAND PRIX OF ABU DHABI

TEAM ABU DHABI’S CARELLA SOMERSAULTS OUT OF QUALIFYING AS ANDERSSON CLAIMS POLE FROM STARK FOR GRAND PRIX OF ABU DHABI

Team Abu Dhabi’s Al-Qamzi closes in on F4-S Trophy title; race one victory falls to Mansoor Al-Mansoori

 ABU DHABI (UAE): Thursday, December 8:  Team Abu Dhabi faces a daunting race against time to ensure that Alex Carella will start Friday’s Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi in a competitive boat after the three-time World Champion somersaulted spectacularly out of the second stint of a pulsating BRM Qualifying session at the Abu Dhabi Breakwater on Thursday afternoon. 

 Fractions of a second separated the leading group and Carella’s accident meant that he missed out on the Q3 shoot-out and was awarded sixth place, with pole position falling to Team Sweden’s Jonas Andersson from Erik Stark of the Emirates Racing Team in an all-Swedish 1-2. Defending World Champion Philippe Chiappe, Victory’s Team’s Shaun Torrente and Ahmed Al-Hameli qualified in third, fourth and fifth places. Carella, who still leads the UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Championshp, is sure to fall further down the starting order on Friday when his damaged Mercury engine is replaced overnight.

 A furious Carella said: “I was feeling really good in the boat and will still push to the maximum to try and win the race. The crash is a big set back and very disappointing, but I need the maximum points. This is the last chance to stay in the hunt for the title.”

 Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al-Qamzi qualified in seventh place. “I feel more pressure here because this is my country, but I want to do something special here and push for the podium tomorrow,” said the driver of boat five.

 Just 1.39 seconds separated the top 13 drivers in the Q1 session, but Sami Selio’s world title chance took a severe dent when technical issues meant that he missed out on the Q2 session and the Finn will start Friday’s race being hosted by the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) from 17th position.

 Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi and Rashed Al-Qamzi qualified for the first of the two 20-minute F4-S races in pole position and third overall, but a disappointing start for both drivers saw them playing catch-up for the remainder of a yellow-flag interrupted race.

 Fourth place for Al-Qamzi was sufficient for the Emirati to extend his championship lead over Dutchman Ferdinand Zandbergen to 38 points with three races remaining, as Mansoor Al-Mansoori fended off a challenge from Jeremy Brisset to claim a 0.95-second win and Finland’s Kalle Viippo was third.

 “I am happy with the points, but I really wanted to get a podium finish in this race for my country,” said Rashed Al-Qamzi. “Tomorrow I will really try to get on the podium. Mohammed (Al-Mehairbi) lost the first position and I lose my place and then I tried to get on to the podium, but the yellow flag did not help. It was not possible to get my position back after the restart.”

 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 (ADIMSC) 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 assistant general manager Salem Al-Romeithi.

 BRM Qualifying

 Race officials imposed a new rule for the Q1 and Q2 sessions in BRM qualifying: three minutes of each session would pass before a qualifying lap was counted to prevent one or two boats benefiting from clean water at the start of the stint on the 2.03km course. Seven boats would be eliminated in the first session and a further six in Q2.

 Chiappe and Carella and made a statement of their intent with early laps of 47.42 and 47.66 seconds and Duarte Benavente as also well placed with a lap of 47.88 seconds. The session was yellow flagged briefly soon afterwards, although racing quickly resumed with Chiappe and Carella looking to be safely into Q2. Sami Selio was down in 14th with technical issues and Al-Qamzi was running the risk of not progressing to Q2, in 12thplace.

 Carella and Ahmed Al-Hameli improved with times of 46.32sec and 47.11sec, but Carella was pipped to the session victory by a flying Erik Stark: he ran a very late lap of 46.17sec. Al-Qamzi improved with an excellent run of 46.78sec to book his place in Q2. Rookie Grant Trask, Nadir Bin Hendi, Mike Szymura (broken propeller), Christophe Larigot, Selio, Filip Roms and Jesper Forss were eliminated in a strengthening wind.

 Another six boats would fall by the wayside in the 15 minutes of Q2. Al-Hameli carded a 46.58sec opener and that edged Carella out of the fastest time by 0.06 seconds. Stark stormed to the front soon afterwards with a tour of 46.27sec and that booked the Swede’s place in the Q3 shoot-out, despite Carella running a flying 45.92sec lap.

 But disaster struck Carella with four minutes of the session remaining when he flipped the boat at a turn buoy and somersaulted spectacularly out of the afternoon’s action. The session finished under a yellow flag and Francesco Cantando, Bartek Marszalak, Duarte Benavente, Ziwei Xiong, Marit Stromoy and Al-Qamzi were eliminated.

 Shaun Torrente set the target of 45.77sec in Q3 and improved with a 45.61sec lap. Stark bettered that with a second lap of 45.08sec to snatch provisional pole and Chiappe’s opener of 45.27sec fell just short and he was not able to improve on his second lap.

 Al-Hameli was next up for the Emirates Racing Team and he opened with a lap of 45.69sec and was not able to match Stark’s time on his second run. Only Jonas Andersson stood between an excellent pole position for Stark. The Swede began with a 45.56sec lap to move into third place and snatched pole with his final lap of 44.60sec to cap a stunning afternoon for Team Sweden.

 Carella missed most of the free practice session with a gear case issue, but still went on to card the fastest lap of 45.43sec. That lap was sufficient to beat series leader Chiappe by 0.56 seconds. Only 0.93 seconds separated the top eight drivers in a very close session, where Al-Qamzi ran for 25 laps and slotted into eighth position. All 19 drivers were able to record lap times.

 F4-S – race 1 

 Eleven of the 12 F4-S entries lined up at the start of the timed trials to determine pole position and Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi topped the session with a lap of 1min 03.29sec during a 15-lap stint on the water. Frenchman Jeremy Brisset of the F1 Atlantic Team edged in front of Al-Mehairbi’s series-leading team mate Rashed Al-Qamzi to snatch second spot. Paolo Longhi sat out the session and missed out on the race.  

 Both Team Abu Dhabi boats made a poor start and Mansoor Al-Mansoori hit the front through the first turn buoy and began to pull away from Brisset and Kalle Viippo, with Al-Qamzi and Al-Mehairbi down in fourth and fifth.

 Brisset and Viippo found a way through to steal a march on their rivals on the next lap and Al-Qamzi climbed to third at the expense of Al-Mansoori. But the race was yellow flagged soon afterwards when Ali Bin Shaiban clipped a turn buoy and was disqualified soon afterwards. The green flag was raised on lap eight and Al-Mansoori recovered from a hook and duly retook his leading position and extended it to 1.17 seconds over Brisset through lap 11, as Al-Qamzi passed Viippo to snatch third place.

 The Finn managed to find a way through again to regain his position, as Al-Mansoori held on to take the chequered flag and his first ever victory in an F4-S race. Brisset was a close second and Viippo fended off Al-Qamzi to claim the final place on the podium. Al-Mehairbi shadowed Ferdinand Zandbergen to the finish in fifth.

 Additional practice and F4-S time trials take place on Friday morning and precede the second of the F4-S races, starting at 2pm. The 2016 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi fires into life at 15.30pm.

 2016 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi – BRM Qualifying results:

1. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden                                               44.60sec

2. Erik Stark (SWE) Emirates Racing Team                                      45.08sec

3. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team                        45.27sec

4. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team                                                     45.61sec

5. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Emirates Racing Team                                45.69sec

6. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                                    45.92sec

7. Thani Al-Qamzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                    46.38sec

2016 UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Championship – current standings (unofficial):

1. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                                    73 pts

2. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team                        68 pts

3. Erik Stark (SWE) Emirates Racing Team                                      58 pts

4. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden                                               49 pts

4. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing                                   49 pts

6. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team                                                     43 pts

7. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Emirates Racing Team                      39 pts

8. Filip Roms (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing                                   15 pts

9. Thani Al-Qamzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                    14 pts

2016 UIM F4-S Trophy – latest positions:

1. Rashed Al-Qamzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                    135 pts

2. Ferdinand Zandbergen (NLD) Baba Racing                                  97 pts

3. Jeremy Brisset (FRA) F1 Atlantic Team                                                   77 pts

4. Kalle Viippo (FIN) Team Sweden                                                               74 pts

5. Mohamed Al-Yamahi (UAE) Victory Team                                    58 pts                                    2

6. Bingchen Wu (CHN) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team                                52 pts

7. Mohammed Al-Mehairbi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                      49 pts

8. Tom Chiappe (FRA) EMIC Racing Team                                                41 pts

9. Magnus Sederholm (FIN) Team Sweden                                               35 pts

10. Mansoor Al-Mansoori (UAE) Emirates Racing Team                      20 pts

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

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

13. Sigitas Mickus (LTU) Team Sweden                                                   1 pt

Timetable of events

Friday, December 9

09.10                     F4-S free practice

09.40                     F4-S time trials

10.15                     F1 free practice

14.00                     F4-S race 2

15.30                     Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi