F1 Alex Carella maintains World Championship lead with fifth place in GP of Portugal


Grand Prix of Portugal, Portimão - July 29-31


· Pole position for Finland’s Sami Selio; Carella and Al-Qamzi qualify in third and ninth
· Rashed Al-Qamzi maintains UIM F4-S Trophy lead with second in race two; victory for Kalle Viippo

PORTIMÃO (PORTUGAL): Sunday, July 31: Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella maintained his UIM F1 H2O World Championship lead by finishing fifth overall in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portugal on the Arade River in Portimão.

Carella was deprived of his 13th career win by a flying double World Champion, Philippe Chiappe, who hit the front at one-third distance and began to pull away from the Italian. Carella eventually finished fifth behind the Frenchman, double World Champion Sami Selio, Shaun Torrente and Team Sweden’s Jonas Andersson after a niggling technical issue cost him valuable time

Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al-Qamzi reached the finish in seventh position after passing Erik Stark midway through the race, only to be passed again by the Swede in the closing minutes. The result means that the CTIC China Team moves one point ahead of Team Abu Dhabi in the UIM F1 H2O Teams’ Championship.

Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qamzi and Mohammed Al-Mehairbi qualified second and third for the second of the weekend’s UIM F4-S Trophy races behind pole winner Kalle Viippo of Team Sweden. Al-Qamzi shadowed Viippo throughout the 20-lap race to finish second – 8.69 seconds behind the race winner - and maintain his five-point series lead, but technical issues dropped Al-Mehairbi to the rear of the field during the opening laps.

Team Abu Dhabi is supported by Etihad Airways as the official carrier and sponsor 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). The racing team runs under the auspices of the ADIMSC and assistant general manager Salem Al-Remeithi.

Grand Prix of Portugal

Carella and Al-Qamzi should have started the 48-lap race from third and ninth places. The Italian lined up for his 41st career Grand Prix start in third, but an engine issue for Ahmed Al-Hameli in Q2 lifted Al-Qamzi up to eighth. Carella made a supreme start and stormed through into the lead at the expense of Stark and Selio. Chiappe climbed to second, Torrente moved up to fourth and Al-Qamzi improved to seventh.

After four laps, Carella’s lead was 1.96 seconds and he continued to edge away from Chiappe, Selio, Torrente and Stark, although Chiappe began to peg the lead to less than two seconds after eight laps. All 19 drivers from 11 nations were still running. Carella began to catch the back-markers and Chiappe closed to within 0.75 seconds through lap 10, as Andersson moved ahead of Stark and into fifth place.

At one-third distance, after 16 laps, Chiappe managed to pass Carella and snatch the lead on the approach to a turn buoy and began to pull away from the Team Abu Dhabi driver in the hot conditions. The gap was 3.33 seconds after lap 18 and 5.36 seconds after lap 20, as Selio and Torrente maintained third and fourth and Al-Qamzi held seventh until he managed to pass Stark and gain sixth position.

By half-distance, after lap 24, Chiappe led by six seconds from Carella, Selio, Torrente, Andersson, Al-Qamzi and Stark and the Frenchman had the bit between his teeth as the race progressed and the margin rose to 8.64 seconds after 29 laps. But Carella began to slow markedly with technical issues and ceded his second position to Selio, as Torrente moved up to third and Andersson also disposed of Carella to take fourth. Al-Qamzi retained sixth.

With nine laps to go, Chiappe led Selio by 7.34 seconds, but Carella’s niggling problem had dropped him 37 seconds behind the race leader. Chiappe managed to hold on to his lead to storm back into title contention with the race win, as Selio and Torrente rounded off the podium and the Team Abu Dhabi duo finished in fifth and seventh places.

BRM Qualifying

BRM Qualifying on the Arade River was rescheduled for Sunday morning in place of free practice and was split into two sessions for the second time in three weeks. Race officials arranged to run Q1 over 20 minutes to eliminate seven of the 19 boats and, after a 10-minute break, Q2 ran for 30 minutes to determine the top six for pole position points.

Weather conditions were more favourable on the 1.937km course on Sunday and Chiappe made his intentions clear from the outset with an opening lap of 43.67 seconds in clear water conditions. That was sufficient to put the Frenchman into Q2. Carella and Al-Qamzi slotted into seventh and ninth places and survived the cut to progress to Q2. Mike Szymura, Jesper Forss, Christophe Larigot, Cédric Deguisne, Nadir Bin Hendi and Filip Roms were eliminated, but Marit Stromoy survived in the dying seconds at the expense of Francesco Cantando.

Chiappe laid down the gauntlet of 43.59sec at the start of Q2, but that was eclipsed by a 43.39sec lap set by Sami Selio. Torrente had suffered some technical issues in Q1 and was not able to join the session until the last five minutes, although Carella and Al-Qamzi moved into sixth and ninth through the early minutes.

Conditions began to deteriorate as the session progressed and that made it that much more difficult to set top lap times. Carella climbed to fourth with a lap of 43.78sec and Al-Qamzi moved up to sixth with a 44.20sec. But Carella was not to be denied and the Italian stormed to the top of the leader board with a tour of 43.28sec and was followed by Andersson with a lap of 43.31sec. Ahmed Al-Hameli limped out of fifth place with mechanical issues, as the boats entered the final 10 minutes of the session.

Chiappe, racing for the 12th time in his career in Portugal, regained provisional pole by pipping Carella by 2/100ths of a second, but Selio went even faster with a time of 43.11sec to hit the top for the third time in his career in Portugal. Carella upstaged Chiappe to snatch second place with five minutes to go, as Torrente joined the fray and Stark stormed into second with a time of 43.19sec. Torrente gained fifth in the final seconds, but Carella limped off the course in third place, with Al-Qamzi in ninth, although Carella extended his lead in the UIM F1 H2O World Pole Position Championship to six points.

F4-S – race 2

The second of the weekend’s UIM F4-S races took place before BRM Qualifying and after the drivers had been given chance to carry out their timed trials. Rashed Al-Qamzi started the day five-points clear of Ferdinand Zandbergen in the championship standings and he (53.81sec) and Kalle Viippo (53.15sec) were the class of the field in the opening minutes of qualifying, although Al-Mehairbi (53.97sec) moved up to third of the 10 drivers with five minute remaining.

Viippo maintained his advantage into the race and headed Al-Qamzi by 5.44 seconds through lap four, as Al-Mehairbi slipped to the foot of the leader board with mechanical issues and Zandbergen moved up to third. The leading trio held station at the halfway point, with Viippo leading Al-Qamzi by 8.74 seconds and the Emirati running well clear of the pursuing Dutchman. The flying Finn retained his composure to claim the win and Al-Qamzi consolidated his series lead with second place after 20 laps. Zandbergen slipped to third in the championship after rounding off the podium places.

The UIM F1 H2O World Championship now moves east to Asia and resumes at Harbin in China on September 1-2.

2016 Grand Prix of Portugal – final result:
1. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) China CTIC Team 48 laps
2. Sami Selio (FIN) Baba Racing @ 6.80sec
3. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team @ 8.90sec
4. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden @ 12.37sec
5. Alex Carella (ITA) Team Abu Dhabi @ 45.22sec
6. Erik Stark (SWE) Emirates Racing Team L1
7. Thani Al-Qamzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi L1
8. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team L1
9. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Emirates Racing Team L1
10. Bartek Marszalak (POL) Blaze Performance Team L1

2016 UIM F1H2O World Championship – Drivers’ Championship standings:
1. Alex Carella (ITA) Team Abu Dhabi 42 pts
2. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) China CTIC Team 40 pts
3. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team 36 pts
4. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden 18 pts
5. Filip Roms (FIN) Baba Racing 17 pts
6. Sami Selio (FIN) Baba Racing 15 pts
7. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team 12 pts
8. Cédric Deguisne (FRA) Maverick Racing 9 pts, etc

2016 Grand Prix of Portugal– BRM Qualifying result (Q2):
1. Sami Selio (FIN) Baba Racing 43.11sec
2. Erik Stark (SWE) Emirates Racing Team 43.19sec
3. Alex Carella (ITA) Team Abu Dhabi 43.25sec
4. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) China CTIC Team 43.26sec
5. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team 43.27sec
6. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden 43.31sec
7. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Emirates Racing Team 43.61sec
8. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team 44.09sec
9. Thani Al-Qamzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 44.20sec
10. Marit Stromoy (NOR) EMIC Racing Team 44.28sec

2016 UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Championship – current standings:
1. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 47 pts
2. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) China CTIC Team 41 pts
3. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team 29 pts
3. Erik Stark (SWE) Emirates Racing Team 29 pts
5. Sami Selio (FIN) Baba Racing 20 pts
6. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden 17 pts
7. Thani Al-Qamzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 14 pts
8. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Emirates Racing Team 7 pts

2016 UIM F4-S Trophy – positions after race 4:
1. Rashed Al-Qamzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 67 pts
2. Kalle Viippo (FIN) Team Sweden 62 pts
3. Ferdinand Zandbergen (NLD) Baba Racing 59 pts
4. Bingchen Wu (CHN) CTIC F1 China Team 36 pts
5. Mohamed Al-Yamahi (UAE) Victory Team 26 pts
6. Tom Chiappe (FRA) EMIC Racing Team 16 pts
7. Ali Bin Shaiban (UAE) Emirates Racing Team 15 pts
8. Mohammed Al-Mehairbi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 8 pts
8. Paolo Longhi (ITA) Blaze Performance Team 8 pts
10. Jeremy Brisset (FRA) F1 Atlantic Team 7 pts

- Ends -

For further media information and information about Team Abu Dhabi:
Please contact: Khalid Al Saadi, Media Incharge, Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club, P.O. Box 45656, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Mobile Telephone: + 971 50 768 6761, E-mail: alsaadi@adimsc.ae.



Date issued: 31/07/2016

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