F1 Jay Price seals second place in opening UIM F1 race in Portugal

Grand Prix of Portugal - April 4th-5th, rounds 1 and 2

For immediate release
Saturday, April 4th, 2009


·Family illness forces Al-Khulaifi to withdraw from opening race
·Qatar team replacement Leo Bonelli finishes in eighth position
·Yellow flag delays dampen bold new UIM F1 race format

PORTIMAO (Portugal): Team Qatar's Jay Price began the defence of his UIM F1 World Championship title on the Arade River in Portugal on Saturday afternoon and finished the first of the weekend's two races in second position behind the UAE's race winner Ahmed Al-Hameli.

Qatar's Yousef Al-Khulaifi was forced to withdraw from the race meeting and return to Doha because of a family illness and Italian driver Leo Bonelli duly returned to the Team Qatar line-up as a last-minute replacement. He finished the first race in eighth position in Al-Khulaifi's Baba race boat.

"This is a great start to the year for us," said a delighted Team Qatar's F1 manager Khalid Al-Kuwari. "It is points on the board straight away, a podium for Jay and no damage to the boats before the second race on Sunday. I honestly feel that Jay could have won the race if we had been given another five minutes or so. He was closing fast on Ahmed. Leo did a great job for us as well. He only got the call to race at the last minute and had no time to practice. His result was superb under the circumstances."

Price and Bonelli began the first race of the season from fourth and 13th positions on the eight-point, 1.805km course in bright, blustery conditions. Marco Gambi forced a yellow flag situation after 22 seconds of the opening lap in a collision, which involved a slight contact with Bonelli.

Al-Hameli led from Cantando when the action resumed, but an engine fire for Andy Elliott forced a second yellow flag situation with Price and Bonelli in fourth and 14th places. A third yellow flag followed soon afterwards and Cantando slipped out of the running, as Al-Hameli led from Selio, Andersson and Price, with Bonelli climbing to 11th.

Selio began to pressurise Al-Hameli, but the yellow flag was raised for the fourth time after 8m 34s. The leading duo continued their duel through lap 30, but Price managed to pass Andersson into third position and closed to within a whisker of Selio's tail. Bonelli held 10th.

Selio lost second with technical trouble and Price climbed to second overall and began to pressurise Al-Hameli in a carbon copy of the scenario from a year before when the Qatar driver claimed a maiden F1 race win. At the chequered flag, Price was closing fast on Al-Hameli and Bonelli confirmed eighth overall.

Price was the sensation of last year's UIM F1 championship and won in Portugal in 2008. His Doha-based team is run by the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) under the presidency of His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and the management of Khalid Al-Kuwari. The Qatar team driver is using a Mercury-engined DAC in the 16-race series, which will reach its conclusion with the traditional back-to-back races in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in December.

Practice and time trials

Nineteen of the 20 drivers from 12 countries lined up at the start of the opening free practice session of the new season. Price was the form driver and posted a potent lap of 41.39s in his first stint. Francesco Cantando, Ahmed Al-Hameli and Duarte Benavente were his closest challengers, as drivers made their last minute preparations for the time trials to determine the starting order for the afternoon's first race of the year.

Selio, Cappellini and Al-Qamzi eventually found the best set-up for the conditions and Price settled for second position in the practice session behind the nine-time World Champion, Cappellini, who recorded a best lap of 41.27s. Bonelli recorded the 14th fastest time.

A top position in the 45-minute time trial was crucial and Price was second after the first seven minutes, courtesy of a lap of 41.36s. Cantando managed to squeeze in front of the World Champion on his second lap, as Cappellini also began to pressurise the Team Qatar driver in his new DAC.

By the mid-point, 13 boats had recorded a qualifying time. Bonelli posted a lap of 43.45s during his first four tours and slotted into 13th position, but Sami Selio and Jonas Andersson began to challenge for the top five and Selio displaced Price after 30 minutes of the session. Price was unable to improve on his fourth position in the closing minutes of the time trial and Bonelli slipped behind England's Andy Elliott into 13th position.

There will be another free practice session from 09.00hrs on Sunday morning and a second time trial from 10.30hrs to determine starting order for the second race, which begins at 14.15hrs.

11th Grand Prix of Portugal - race 1 results (Saturday - unofficial)
1. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) F1 Team Abu Dhabi  38 laps  20 pts 
2. Jay Price (QA) F1 Team Qatar   1.91s behind 15 pts
3. Jonas Andersson (S) Team Azerbaijan   6.58s behind 12 pts
4. Thani Al-Qamzi (UAE) F1 Team Abu Dhabi  26.72s behind 9 pts
5. Fabio Comparato (I) 800 Doctor Team   34.75s behind  7 pts
6. Ugis Gross (LAT) Zepter Team   36.50s behind 5 pts
7. Marit Stromoy (N) Team Azerbaijan   38.30s behind 4 pts
8. Leo Bonelli (I) F1 Team Qatar    42.41s behind 3 pts

Time Trials and Pole Position points (Saturday)
1. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) F1 Team Abu Dhabi  39.98s  20 pts
2. Francesco Cantando (I) Singha F1 Racing Team  40.62s  15 pts
3. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad Croc F1 Team Woodstock  40.68s  12 pts
4. Jay Price (QA) F1 Team Qatar   40.97s  9 pts
5. Guido Cappellini (I) Zepter Team   41.12s  7 pts
6 Jonas Andersson (S) Team Azerbaijan   41.57s  5 pts
13. Leo Bonelli (I) F1 Team Qatar   43.45s  0 pts


For further information:
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com. www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases).



Date issued: 04/04/2009

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