Team Abu Dhabi’s Carella loses third place to Selio near race finish; Al-Qamzi duo both retired

Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi third in F4-S finale; second win of weekend for Brisset

 SHARJAH (UAE): Friday, December 16: Frenchman Philippe Chiappe clinched his third successive UIM F1 H2O World Championship title after a thrilling climax to the season at the Grand Prix of Sharjah on Khaled Lagoon on Friday afternoon. 

 Needing to finish inside the top 10, regardless of whether arch rival Shaun Torrente of the Victory Team won the race outright, Chiappe made a superb start and stormed passed pole sitter Jonas Andersson on the first lap. He eventually ceded the race win to Torrente and cruised to the finish in second place to claim a third title for the CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team. Torrente’s win gave him the runner-up spot in the series rankings. 

 Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella moved up gradually during the race, after missing out on the top six in qualifying, and the Italian looked set for third place until he pulled out with engine issues three laps from the end and handed double World Champion Sami Selio his position. Pole winner Jonas Andersson was fourth, fellow Swede Erik Stark finished fifth and rookie Grant Trask was an excellent sixth.

 Team Abu Dhabi rookie Rashed Al-Qamzi climbed as high as 14th on his F1 H2O racing debut until he fell foul of technical issues on the 12th lap. Thani Al-Qamzi was running as high as seventh overall until he fell by the wayside on lap 32. 

 Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi qualified second behind Jeremy Brisset for the last F4-S race of the season and shadowed the Frenchman and Finland’s Kalle Viippo to the end of a processional 22-lap finale to the championship to confirm sixth in the points’ standings. Brisset duly won his second race of the weekend by 2.06 seconds, but missed out on the runner-up spot in the series to Dutchman Ferdinand Zandbergen. Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qamzi had won the title last weekend in Abu Dhabi. 

 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. “I would like to thank His Highness Sheikh Sultan for his support and everyone connected with the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club for their hard work to make this season so successful across a wide range of powerboat racing disciplines,” said Al-Romeithi. “We have the solid foundations in place to look forward to another very exciting year in 2017.”

 Grand Prix of Sharjah

 Andersson managed to repair his boat and avoid changing the engine after his spectacular Q3 crash on Thursday and began the race from pole, ahead of title rivals Chiappe and Torrente. The Team Abu Dhabi trio of Carella, Al-Qamzi and Al-Qamzi were seventh, 11th and 15thof the 20 starters at the start of the 45-lap race. 

 Chiappe made a superb start and passed Andersson to storm into the lead, as Torrente snatched second position and Selio slipped back to eighth. After two laps, Carella and the two Al-Qamzi cousins were sixth, 11th and 15th. Mike Szymura had already fallen by the wayside. 

 Torrente settled into second behind Chiappe, the Victory Team driver knowing that any technical issues for the Frenchman would give him the title. Jesper Forss withdrew with mechanical problems, as Chiappe took a 1.44-second lead into lap seven and began to come under pressure from a charging Torrente. Rashed Al-Qamzi climbed to 14th and then progressed to 12th before falling out of contention on lap 12, but Ahmed Al-Hameli had retired four laps earlier. 

 The yellow flag was raised on lap 15 when Ziwei Xiong turned his CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team boat over at speed on the south-east of the course, with Chiappe leading from Torrente, Andersson, Stark, Carella and Bartek Marszalek. Action resumed on lap 20 and Torrente got the jump on Chiappe to snatch the race lead. The American began to pull away as Chiappe noticeably eased his pace to conserve his equipment to take into the remaining 23 laps. 

 Carella began to pressurise Stark in the battle for fourth and the Italian stormed through to take the position, as Thani Al-Qamzi moved up to eighth at the expense of Grant Trask. Torrente’s lead was 13.16 seconds through 30 laps, as Carella disposed of a slowing Andersson to move into third place, with Al-Qamzi also benefiting to snatch seventh place. Marszalek’s brave run ended on lap 29 and Al-Qamzi also withdrew with his own issues three laps later.

 Torrente held on through the closing laps to record his first win since Doha last year, but it was not enough to prevent race runner-up Chiappe from claiming the world title for the third time in three years. Carella tried hard to overtake the Frenchman, but was forced to settle for third place after a frenetic tussle over the closing laps, with Selio nipping at his heels from fourth place. But Carella dramatically stopped with engine issues with three laps remaining and Selio moved into third.

 None of the title contenders featured at the top of the morning’s free practice session and Norway’s Marit Stromoy topped the times with a lap of 45.72sec. Pole Bartek Marszalek was second and Ahmed Al-Hameli ran third fastest. The Team Abu Dhabi trio of Rashed Al-Qamzi, Carella and Thani Al-Qamzi were fourth, fifth and eighth, the former impressing on his second full day in an F1 boat with an impressive best time of 46.25sec.

 F4-S – race 2

 Mohammed Al-Mehairbi was the sole representative of Team Abu Dhabi in the last of the season’s F4-S races. For the second day running the Emirati shadowed Jeremy Brisset through the morning’s free practice session with a best lap of 47.09sec. Nine of the drivers featured, but Bingchen Wu was sidelined after his crash on Thursday.

 It was a similar story in the timed trials and Brisset claimed pole for the second day in a row with a winning lap of 47.01sec. Al-Mehairbi and Ferdinand Zandbergen lining up in second and third positions for the 22-lap race.

 Brisset made the better start and held a 2.03-second lead over Kalle Viippo through lap one, as Al-Mehairbi was also passed by Mohammed Al-Yamahi and slipped to fourth, only to regain a place on the next lap. The leading quintet held station through the next few laps, although Mansoor Al-Mansoori pulled out with technical issues on lap four.

 By halfway, Brisset’s lead over Viippo had grown to 6.81 seconds and Al-Mehairbi was 5.05 seconds clear of Al-Yamahi in third place. Zandbergen was fifth and in a position to earn enough points to seal the runner-up spot in the championship behind Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qamzi.

 There were no late dramas for Brisset and the Frenchman held on to take his second win of the weekend by the margin of 2.06 seconds from Viippo. Al-Mehairbi rounded off the podium places in third in a processional climax to the F4-S season. Brisset lapped all but four of his rivals

 2016 Grand Prix of Sharjah – result:

1. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team                                                     45 laps

2. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team                        @25.72sec

3. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing                                   @27.34sec

4. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden                                               @30.05sec

5. Erik Stark (SWE) Emirates Racing Team                                      @32.08sec

6. Grant Trask (AUS) EMIC Racing Team                                                     @35.27sec

7. Filip Roms (FIM) Mad Croc Baba Racing                                   @40.28sec

8. Duarte Benavente (POR) F2 Atlantic Team                                     L1

9. Marit Stromoy (NOR) EMIC Racing Team                                                 L1

10. Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE) Victory Team                                                                L2

 2016 UIM F1H2O World Championship – final Drivers’ Championship standings:

1. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team                        97 pts

2. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team                                                     83 pts

3. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden                                               66 pts

3. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing                                   66 pts

5. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                                    54 pts

6. Filip Roms (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing                                   26 pts

6. Erik Stark (SWE) Emirates Racing Team                                      26 pts

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

8. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team                                     25 pts

10. Marit Stromoy (NOR) EMIC Racing Team                                                17 pts, etc

 2016 UIM F4-S Trophy – final positions:

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

2. Ferdinand Zandbergen (NLD) Baba Racing                                  128 pts

3. Jeremy Brisset (FRA) F1 Atlantic Team                                                    122 pts

4. Kalle Viippo (FIN) Team Sweden                                                                116 pts

5. Mohamed Al-Yamahi (UAE) Victory Team                                    75 pts

6. Mohammed Al-Mehairbi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                      74 pts                                                                                                      

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

8. Tom Chiappe (FRA) EMIC Racing Team                                                45 pts

9. Magnus Sederholm (FIN) Team Sweden                                               35 pts

10. Ali Bin Shaiban (UAE) Emirates Racing Team                                      33 pts

11. Mansoor Al-Mansoori (UAE) Emirates Racing Team                      27 pts

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

13. Sigitas Mickus (LTU) Team Sweden                                                    8 pts