New F4-S champion Rashed Al-Qamzi makes F1 H2O debut and qualifies in 16th place 

  Seventh place for Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi in F4-S; race win for Jeremy Brisset

 SHARJAH (UAE): Thursday, December 15:  Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella, Thani Al-Qamzi and rookie Rashed Al-Qamzi qualified in seventh, 11th and 16th positions, as the outcome of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship goes down to the wire between Frenchman Philippe Chiappe and American Shaun Torrente in Friday afternoon’s Grand Prix of Sharjah on Khaled Lagoon. 

 Thursday afternoon’s BRM Qualifying session was a crucial affair, not only for the Team Abu Dhabi trio, but also for the two title protagonists. Chiappe managed to stay ahead of Torrente to claim second position in the third session of BRM Qualifying, but recent Abu Dhabi race winner Jonas Andersson carded a lap of 44.33sec before barrel-rolling his boat nose down into Khaled Lagoon. Assuming Team Sweden can repair the damage without replacing the engine, Andersson will start the race from pole position – the Swede’s second such feat in just seven days. 

 The fact that Carella missed out on the Q3 session also meant that the Italian was deprived of the 2016 UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Championship title, with the honour falling to Chiappe. 

 Team Abu Dhabi made the last minute decision to let their recently-crowned UIM F4-S champion Rashed Al-Qamzi make his F1 H2O racing debut in a Molgaard alongside the DACs of Alex Carella and his cousin Thani Al-Qamzi. The youngster ran well and beat four of his more established rivals to qualify in 16th place. 

 “It was a fantastic experience for me to make my debut in the F1 boat and I am grateful that the team put faith in me this week,” said Rashed Al-Qamzi.

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 and racing manager and 10-time world champion Guido Cappellini.

 Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi qualified in second place behind the F1 Atlantic Team’s Jeremy Brisset for the first of the weekend’s two F4-S races. It was a disappointing race for the driver out of the ADIMSC and he reached the finish in seventh position, with Brisset passing the chequered flag 17.95 seconds in front of Dutchman Ferdinand Zandbergen. 

 BRM Qualifying

 Split into the traditional three qualifying sessions, eight of the 20 entrants would be eliminated in Q1 and a further six in Q2 before the final six-boat shoot-out to determine pole position. Selio down the gauntlet with an early lap of 46.92sec to hit the top of the standings, although his time was soon surpassed by Torrente in a time of 46.66 seconds. Thani Al-Qamzi admitted he liked the course before the start of qualifying and a potent lap of 47.92 seconds catapulted the Emirati into the early top six. With seven minutes of the session remaining, Carella recorded a lap of 46.83sec to snatch second place behind Torrente.

 Both Carella and Thani Al-Qamzi made it into Q2, but Rashed Al-Qamzi’s first qualifying session ended with a best lap of 48.31sec and 16th place. Christophe Larigot, Mike Szymura, Francesco Cantando, Jesper Forss, Marit Stromoy, Ziwei Xiong and Duarte Benavente were also eliminated. 

 Q2 ran for 15 minutes to reduce the field to just six boats. Carella stormed to the top of the leader board with a 46.42sec lap and that was surpassed by Selio’s time of 45.99sec. Ahmed Al-Hameli and Chiappe also moved in front of the Italian. Chiappe hit the front with a flying lap of 45.54sec with nine minutes remaining and Torrente followed him to the front with a tour of 45.86sec. Poland’s Bartek Marszalak was in impressive form to tie Torrente’s time.

 Carella was pushed down to eighth with a couple of minutes of the session remaining, but the Italian was not able to respond in time and he missed out on Q3, as Thani Al-Qamzi, Nadir Bin Hendi, Grant Trask, Filip Roms and Ahmed Al-Hameli also missed out on Q3.

 Erik Stark was the first on to the water in Q3, but he made a mistake on his first run and set the target time of 45.11sec with his flying second lap. Fellow Swede Andersson was next on to the water and he shattered Stark’s time with an opening 44.33sec, but he tried to beat that on his second lap and flipped his boat spectacularly through the air, nose-diving into the water.

 Marszalek reached Q3 for the first time in his career, carded a cautious opener of 46.45sec and rounded off his challenge with a second lap of 46.00sec. Torrente needed pole to stand any chance of claiming the world title and the Victory Team driver opened with a lap of 45.05sec and then improved with a tour of 45.01sec.

 Selio, a two-time World Champion, opened his account with a lap of 45.60sec and was unable to improve on his second lap, leaving the door open for Chiappe to challenge for pole. The Frenchman carded an opener of 44.92sec to move into second place, but was unable to snatch pole from Andersson on his final lap.

 Rashed Al-Qamzi, 24, had tried out the F1 boat for the first time in real competition during Wednesday afternoon’s unofficial practice session. “This was the second time I was in the boat after testing in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. My first reaction was the big difference in acceleration out of the turns between the F1 and F2 boats. It is amazing. Nobody is expecting too much from me or setting me any targets.”

 Team Sweden’s Jonas Andersson continued where he left off last weekend to claim the fastest time in Thursday morning’s official practice session. The winner of the Abu Dhabi race clocked a time of 45.97sec and that was 0.18 seconds quicker than Carella. Title rivals Torrente and Chiappe were a subdued sixth and 10th, while Thani Al-Qamzi slotted into 11th and Rashed Al-Qamzi was faster than three more experienced rivals in 17th.

 His Excellency Khaled Al-Madfaa, the Assistant Secretary-General of the Public Authority for Youth and Sports Welfare, visited the paddock area during the morning and spoke with Team Abu Dhabi personnel.

 F4-S – race 1

 With Rashed Al-Qamzi graduating to the main race, Mohammed Al-Mehairbi was left to fly the Abu Dhabi flag in the first of the two F4-S races. The Emirati shadowed Jeremy Brisset of the F1 Atlantic Team through the first official practice session and it was a similar scenario in the timed trials, with the Frenchman claiming pole position for the 22-lap race with a lap of 47.17sec. Al-Mehairbi qualified second with a time of 47.70sec and Dutchman Ferdinand Zandbergen rounded off the top three. All 10 entries took to the waters of Khaled Lagoon for the session.

 Brisset made a solid start and finished the opening lap ahead of Kalle Vippo and Bingchen Wu, but Al-Mehairbi made a disappointing getaway from the pontoon and found himself down in seventh place when the yellow flag was raised after an accident involving Wu. Racing resumed on lap five with drivers falling back into their pole position running order.

 Zandbergen found a way passed Al-Mehairbi to snatch second place behind Brisset and the Team Abu Dhabi driver ceded third place to Mohamed Al-Yamahi soon afterwards. At the halfway point, Brisset led Zandbergen by 7.5 seconds and Al-Mehairbi was down in fifth behind Al-Yamahi and Viippo. The leading Frenchman held on over the closing laps to record a 17.95-second win and take the battle for the runner-up spot in the series down to the final race on Friday. Al-Mehairbi finished seventh behind Brisset, Zandbergen, Viippo, Al-Yamahi, Ali Bin Shaiban and Mansoor Al-Mansoori.

 Further free practice is permitted on Friday morning and the second F4-S race, starting at 2pm, precedes the 2016 Grand Prix of Sharjah, scheduled for a live web stream on at 4pm.

 2016 Grand Prix of Sharjah – BRM Qualifying result:

1. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden                                               44.33sec

2. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team                        44.92sec

3. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team                                                     45.01sec

4. Erik Stark (SWE) Emirates Racing Team                                      45.11sec

5. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing                                   45.60sec

6. Bartek Marszalek (POL) Blaze Performance Team                     46.00sec

7. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                                    46.18sec

11. Thani Al-Qamzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                    46.80sec

16. Rashed Al-Qamzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                                 48.31sec                         

 2016 UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Championship – final positions:

1. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team                        83 pts

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

3. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden                                               69 pts

4. Erik Stark (SWE) Emirates Racing Team                                      67 pts

5. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing                                   56 pts

6. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team                                                     55 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

10. Bartek Marszalek (POL) Blaze Performance Team                     5 pts

 2016 UIM F4-S Trophy – latest positions:

1. Rashed Al-Qamzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                    155 pts                                                                            

2. Ferdinand Zandbergen (NLD) Baba Racing                                  119 pts                                                                                                    

3. Jeremy Brisset (FRA) F1 Atlantic Team                                                    102 pts                                                                                                                    

4. Kalle Viippo (FIN) Team Sweden                                                                101 pts                                                                                                    

5. Mohamed Al-Yamahi (UAE) Victory Team                                    70 pts                                                                                                       

6. Bingchen Wu (CHN) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team                                64 pts                                                                                                           

7. Mohammed Al-Mehairbi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                      62 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                      27 pts

11. Ali Bin Shaiban (UAE) Emirates Racing Team                                      26 pts                                     

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

13. Sigitas Mickus (LTU) Team Sweden                                                    5 pts