Engine issues sideline Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi; defending champion Chiappe wins 


PORTIMAO (PORTUGAL): Sunday, April 23:  Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella salvaged fourth position from a disappointing 16th Grand Prix of Portugal on the Arade river in Portimao, on Sunday. 

Team-mates Thani and Rashed Al-Qezmi suffered engine issues and were unable to challenge for honours on an opening round of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship that was won by the French three-time champion Philippe Chiappe after pole position winner Shaun Torrente lost his lead early on and retired on lap 10.

Finland’s double World Champion Sami Selio began his 2017 racing campaign with second position and Duarte Benavente  claimed a memorable podium finish on his home race. Poland’s Bartek Marszalak finished behind Carella who also moved ahead of Germany’s Mike Szymura on the last two laps when the German was disqualified. 

Carella had qualified in fifth position and eventually began the race in 15th, while Thani Al-Qemzi lined up in 17t positions for the 50-lap race on the seven-pin 1.937km saltwater course after engine issues plagued their progress in a session that was won by the American driver Shaun Torrente from Ahmed Al-Hameli and Erik Stark, with Chiappe in fourth.

After losing the whole of Saturday because of gale force winds, H2O racing officials had to cram an entire weekend of racing into one day’s timetable on the Arade River. BRM qualifying was moved to the morning and the 16th Grand Prix of Portugal slotted into a revised schedule that was again weather dependent. 

Nineteen drivers and nine teams entered the opening round of the world’s most prestigious tunnel boat racing series.

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 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 general manager Salem Al-Remeithi and team manager Guido Cappellini.

2017 Grand Prix of Portugal – race result

1. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team                        50 laps                  

2. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing                                   @12.88sec                     

3. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team                                     L1

4. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                                    L1

5. Bartek Marszalak (POL) Blaze Performance Team                     L1

6. Cédric Deguisne (FRA) Maverick F1                                                        L2

7. Grant Trask (AUS) F1 Atlantic Team                                                    L2            

8. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Sweden                                                               RET


2017 UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Championship – positions after round 1 

1. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team                                                                     20pts

2. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team                                                                                15pts                                                                

3. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Sweden                                                                               12pts

4. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team                                        9pts       

5. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                                                    7pts

6. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team                                                    5pts