F1 Fifth and seventh for Carella and Al-Qamzi as Stark claims pole in Sharjah


Grand Prix of Sharjah, December 16-18


Team Abu Dhabi’s Al-Mehairbi loses out on maiden UIM F-4S victory; second title for Germany’s Szymura

SHARJAH (UAE): Thursday, December 17: Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella and Thani Al-Qamzi put themselves in a superb position to clinch the UIM F1 H2O Teams’ Championship by qualifying in fifth and seventh places for Friday’s Grand Prix of Sharjah season finale on Khaled Lagoon.

With the outcome of the Drivers’ Championship already decided in favour of Frenchman Philippe Chiappe for a second season, attention turned to seven drivers battling it out at the final round of the series to clinch the runner-up spot and the battle between Team Abu Dhabi and the CTIC China Team for the Teams’ Championship.

Erik Stark of the Emirates Team had won the Q2 session with a lap of 48.07 seconds and claimed an emphatic maiden career pole position with his opening lap of 47.22 seconds in the Q3 shoot-out. Two-time World Champion Chiappe had already clinched the 2015 UIM F1 H2O Pole Position title and the Frenchman stormed to provisional pole with an opening lap of 47.66 seconds and improved still further to clock a 47.34 second tour, before being upstaged by Stark at the 11th hour.

Victory’s Team’s Shaun Torrente opened his account with a lap of 47.53 seconds to settle into second place behind Chiappe and will start Friday’s final race of the season from third. Norway’s Marit Stromoy qualified in fourth position with a solitary lap of 47.74sec, while Carella was third of the drivers on to the course for the Q3 shoot-out and his only lap of 47.75 seconds was 1/100th of a second short of the time set by Marit Stromoy. The Italian duly qualified in fifth. Finland’s double World Champion Sami Selio was not able to beat Stromoy’s opener in the shoot-out and settled for a best lap of 48.08 seconds to qualify in sixth.

Six of the 18 entrants were eliminated in Q1, the first of three traditional qualifying sessions on the demanding Sharjah course. Al-Qamzi booked his slot in Q2 with an early lap of 49.78 seconds and was closely followed by Chiappe, Torrente and Carella into the second session where many of the front-runners ran for only a few laps to preserve their boats for Q2. Christophe Larigot, Jesper Forss, Francesco Cantando, Nadir Bin Hendi, Filip Roms and Bartek Marszalek were eliminated.

A further six boats fell by the wayside in Q2 to reduce the runners to six for the final two-lap shoot-out. Torrente put a fast lap of 49.62 seconds in early to give himself an excellent chance of making Q3 and Carella and Al-Qamzi slotted in behind the American until Selio and Chiappe pushed them down to fourth and fifth.

Carella moved up the leader board with a lap of 48.51 seconds to confirm his place in the top six alongside a flying Erik Stark, Torrente, Chiappe, Selio and Marit Stromoy, with Al-Qamzi edged out of the shoot-out and into seventh place after something hit his gearbox, damaged the propeller and forced him out of the session prematurely. Ziwei Xiong, Jonas Andersson, Yousef Al-Rubayan, Ahmed Al-Hameli and Duarte Benavente joined Al-Qamzi out of the shoot-out.

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).

Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi and Rashed Al-Qamzi qualified second and seventh for the first of the weekend’s two F-4S races. Finland’s Anton Nyholm continued the winning form he showed in Abu Dhabi to claim pole position, but champion-elect Mike Szymura was down in fifth at the start of the 18-lap race.

The yellow flag was raised on the opening lap when Al-Mehairbi flipped his boat after an altercation with Zandbergen, but drivers quickly returned to their starting order and racing restarted at the end of lap one with Nyholm leading from Al-Mehairbi and Ferdinand Zandbergen. Al-Mehairbi snatched the lead on the subsequent lap and reached the start of lap five with a 2.61-second advantage. By halfway, the Emirati’s advantage over Nyholm was 3.39 seconds, as Szymura closed in on a second successive UIM F-4S title in fourth and Al-Qamzi held seventh.

There were no last minute dramas for Al-Mehairbi on this occasion and the Emirati held on to take an impressive maiden F-4S victory over Nyholm by the margin of 6.68 seconds. Szymura finished third to confirm his second F-4S title and Al-Qamzi reached the chequered flag in seventh, but Al-Mehairbi was dramatically disqualified after the race for technical reasons and slipped from second to fourth in the points’ standings, with Szymura claiming second spot behind winner Nyholm and Al-Qamzi moving up to fifth.

“This was the first time I had started the boat well from the pontoon,” said Al-Mehairbi before his disappointing disqualification. “I was catching up with the third-placed Mad-Croc team and we were beside each other. I was full throttle and suddenly the boat just back flipped. Luckily, I ended up straight and continued to race and started in second again after the yellow flag. On the second lap I gained the lead and, after that, I flew.”

Recently crowned double World Champion Philippe Chiappe topped the times in the morning’s official F1 practice session with a lap of 46.99 seconds and that was 0.13 sec quicker than Sweden’s Erik Stark. Team Abu Dhabi’s Carella and Al-Qamzi ran for 15 and two laps respectively, with Carella slotting into seventh place, but his team-mate again suffering technical issues.

F-4S practice and time trials will be repeated from 09.10hrs on Friday morning and the leading F1 teams will be permitted a third and final practice session from 10.15hrs. The second of the F-4S races takes centre stage at 14.30hrs and the Grand Prix of Sharjah roars into life and draws the curtain on another thrilling season of UIM F1 H2O racing from 15.30hrs.

2015 Grand Prix of Sharjah – time trial result:
1. Erik Stark (SWE) Emirates Team 47.22 sec
2. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) China CTIC Team 47.34 sec
3. Shaun Torrente (QAT) Victory Team 47.53 sec
4. Marit Stromoy NOR) EMIC Team 47.74 sec
5. Alex Carella (ITA) Team Abu Dhabi 47.75 sec
6. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 48.08 sec

2015 UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Championship – final positions:
1. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) China CTIC Team 97 pts
2. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 63 pts
3. Alex Carella (ITA) Team Abu Dhabi 51 pts
4. Youssef Al-Rubayan (KUW) F1 GC Atlantic Team 45 pts
5. Shaun Torrente (QAT) Victory Team 48 pts
6. Erik Stark (SWE) Emirates Team 34 pts
7. Thani Al-Qamzi (ARE) Team Abu Dhabi 20 pts
8. Ahmed Al-Hameli (ARE) Emirates Team 19 pts
9. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden 12 pts
10. Marit Stromoy (NOR) EMIC Team 9 pts

2015 UIM F-4S Trophy – current standings:
1. Mike Szymura (DEU) F1 GC Atlantic Team 109 pts
2. Joakhim Halvorsen (NOR) Team EMIC 63 pts
3. Anton Nyholm (FIN) Team Sweden 60 pts
4. Mohammed Al-Mehairbi (ARE) Team Abu Dhabi 51 pts
5. Ferdinand Zandbergen (NED) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 43 pts
6. Rashed Al-Qemzi (ARE) Team Abu Dhabi 42 pts
7. Bingchen Wu (CHN) CTIC China Team 34 pts
8. Mansoor Al-Mansoori (ARE) Emirates Team 31 pts, etc

- 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: 17/12/2015

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