F1 Team Abu Dhabi's Carella and Al-Qamzi target Dubai win after qualifying second and sixth


Grand Prix of Dubai, March 2-4


· Defending World Champion Philippe Chiappe claims last-gasp pole position in Dubai
· Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qamzi claims podium finish in first F-4S Trophy race; Zandbergen wins

DUBAI (UAE): Thursday, March 3: Team Abu Dhabi’s former World Champion Alex Carella and Thani Al-Qamzi set up the prospect of a thrilling start to the new powerboat racing season, after qualifying in second and sixth positions for Friday’s inaugural Grand Prix of Dubai.

Despite tricky and windy conditions at the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) on Thursday afternoon, 18 drivers qualified for the opening round of the UIM F1 H20 World Championship at Mina Seyahi. Fractions of a second separated the leading group of drivers through all three pulsating qualifying sessions and double World Champion Philippe Chiappe deprived Carella of pole position with his last lap of the day – a run of 41.36sec – to claim a fifth career pole.

Carella ensured that Team Abu Dhabi was well placed for the opening race in second, while Team Sweden’s Jonas Andersson and the Emirates Racing Team’s Erik Stark qualified in third and fourth. Victory Team’s Shaun Torrente fell short of the podium and qualified ahead of Al-Qamzi in fifth place.

“I don’t suffer from pressure, so I can go into the race on Friday, confident and focused,” said Carella. “We have done the preparations and have the equipment capable of taking the win. I deal with each race separately. It is important that we take the win and, with Thani alongside me, I feel we have the strongest team.”

“We all realise the importance of a good start to the season and claiming those first 20 points for the race win,” said ADIMSC’s general manager Salem Al-Remeithi. “Thani and Alex are well prepared and the whole team is focused to achieve that objective.”

BRM qualifying was split into three sessions on the new five-pin, 1.96km Dubai course off the coast of Mina Seyahi. Warm and windy conditions prevailed on the course for Q1, where the slowest six of the 18 drivers would be eliminated. Last year’s Sharjah race winner Marit Stromoy set the first target time of the season of 43.64sec, but the session was yellow-flagged after technical problems forced Mike Szymura to stop on the course.

Al-Qamzi and Carella made it safely through to Q2 from ninth and third positions, but Szymura, Christophe Larigot, Nadir Bin Hendi, Jesper Forss, Filip Roms and Bartek Marszalek were eliminated. Team Sweden’s Jonas Andersson won the session with a lap of 43.55sec.

Stromoy again laid down the gauntlet in Q2 with a lap of 43.79sec, but that time was upstaged by several drivers and then surpassed by a flying Carella lap of 42.43sec. Carella, Chiappe, Shaun Torrente, Al-Qamzi, Jonas Andersson and Erik Stark qualified for the six-boat shoot-out, but Duarte Benavente, Ivan Brigada, Stromoy, Francesco Cantando, Ziwei Xiong and Sami Selio were eliminated in a nail-=biting session where just 0.75 seconds separated the top eight boats. Chiappe won the session with a lap of 42.19sec.

Stark was the first driver on to the course for his two Q3 laps and the Swede recorded the target time of 41.94sec in treacherous conditions. Al-Qamzi had squeezed into the shoot-out near the end of Q2, and began Q3 with a lap of 42.38sec. He improved with a 42.17sec second lap, but that was not sufficient to topple Stark.

Andersson was next up and he stormed to the top of the leader board with a 41.90sec opener before improving with a second tour of 41.78sec. Torrente was next up for the host Victory Team , but he fell short on lap one with a 42.16sec and remained in third after his second lap of 42.06sec.

The stage was set for the final two-boat showdown between Carella and Chiappe and the Team Abu Dhabi driver ghosted into provisional pole with a first lap of 41.62sec and improved by 1/100th of a second on his second lap. Chiappe drew the curtain on the qualifying session and opened with a 41.75sec, before claiming pole with a second lap of 41.36sec.

Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi and Rashed Al-Qamzi were in superb form for the opening round of the UIM F-4S Trophy and qualified in first and third positions, the Emirati duo sandwiching Ferdinand Zanderbergen. Only eight of the 10 entrants took part in the time trails.

Al-Mehairbi maintained his composure and retained the race lead through eight of the 22 laps and headed into lap nine with a 4.20-second advantage over Baba Racing’s flying Dutchman Ferdinand Zandbergen. Al-Qamzi slipped to fourth behind F-4S rookie Kalle Viippo of Team Sweden and then Zandbergen overhauled Al-Mehairbi on the ninth lap in traffic to take the outright lead by just 1.11 seconds.

The duo were closest matched over the next few laps but the Dutchman managed to hold on for his first F-4S Trophy race win by 1.68 seconds after the race was yellow-flagged when Al-Mehairbi was forced out after a spectacular crash six laps from the finish. Viippo crossed the finish line in second place and Al-Qamzi snatched the final podium slot, with Bingchen Wu rounding off the top four.

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 team is managed by the multiple Italian World Champion Guido Cappellini and runs under the auspices of the ADIMSC and general manager Salem Al-Remeithi.

Both Carella and Al-Qamzi had started well with second and 10th places in Thursday morning’s free practice session. Carella ran for 25 laps and clocked a best tour of 42.06sec to slot in behind the defending World Champion Philippe Chiappe. All 18 drivers took to the water.

Friday morning’s timetable sees a repeat of the F-4S practice and time trials sessions and F1 free practice, prior to the second of the F-4S races, scheduled for 14.00hrs. The inaugural Grand Prix of Dubai gets underway at the DIMC from 15.30hrs.

2016 Grand Prix of Dubai – BRM Qualifying result (Q3):
1. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) China CTIC Team 41.36sec
2. Alex Carella (ITA) Team Abu Dhabi 41.62sec
3. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden 41.78sec
4. Erik Stark (SWE) Emirates Racing Team 41.94sec
5. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team 42.06sec
6. Thani Al-Qamzi (ARE) Team Abu Dhabi 42.17sec

2016 UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Championship – current standings:
1. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) China CTIC Team 20 pts
2. Alex Carella (ITA) Team Abu Dhabi 15 pts
3. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden 12 pts
4. Erik Stark (SWE) Emirates Racing Team 9 pts
5. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team 7 pts
6. Thani Al-Qamzi (ARE) Team Abu Dhabi 5 pts

2016 UIM F-4S Trophy – positions after race 1:
1. Ferdinand Zandbergen (NLD) Baba Racing 20 pts
2. Kalle Viippo (FIN) Team Sweden 15 pts
3. Rashed Al-Qamzi (ARE) Team Abu Dhabi 12 pts
4. Bingchen Wu (CHN) CTIC F1 China Team 9 pts
5. Mohamed Al-Yamahi (ARE) Victory Team 7 pts
6. Tom Chiappe (FRA) EMIC Racing Team 5 pts
7. Ali Bin Shaiban (ARE) Emirates Racing Team 4 pts
8. Paolo Longhi (ITA) Blaze Performance Team 3 pts
RET. Mohammed Al-Mehairbi (ARE) Team Abu Dhabi 0 pts
DNS. Jeremy Brisset (FRA) F1 Atlantic Team 0 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: 03/04/2016

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