F1 Team Abu Dhabi's Carella passes Finn Seloi to claim stunning victory in Abu Dhabi


24th Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi, December 9-11


Team Abu Dhabi’s Al-Qamzi stages amazing fight back to third; Philippe Chiappe clinches world title
Team Abu Dhabi’s Al-Mehairbi finishes second in F-4S race; Nyholm wins as Al-Qamzi crashes out

ABU DHABI (UAE): Friday, December 11: Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella clinched victory in one of the most exciting races ever staged in the UIM F1 H20 World Championship, when he passed Finland’s Sami Selio with three laps to run to claim his team’s first victory on its home race in 10 years and push Team Abu Dhabi to the top of the UIM H2O Teams’ Championship.

Lying third for much of the race behind Team Sweden’s Jonas Andersson and Selio, Carella seized his opportunity on lap 44 when Selio suffered engine issues and the Italian stormed through to the finish. Andersson had started the race from fifth and surged into the lead on the opening lap. He held the advantage until lap 33 before technical issues sidelined his Molgaard.

“At the start my engine didn’t fire, but this victory is very important for me,” said a delighted Carella. “I didn’t think I had a chance to win, but I battled until the end. I am so happy.”

Frenchman Philippe Chiappe maintained his composure and stayed out of trouble to finish second and that was sufficient for the reigning UIM F1 H2O World Champion to retain his title with one race remaining in Sharjah next Friday.

Thani Al-Qamzi produced a sensational drive through the field from the rear of the start grid to finish in third position in the second Team Abu Dhabi boat. “I started from last and I managed to get on to the podium,” said Al-Qamzi. “The boat was running very good today. I saved it to avoid any crashes. I kept it safe because I broke two engines yesterday.”

The last five pole sitters claimed victory in Abu Dhabi, so Carella started as the clear favourite to win the race for the third time and give the host club a first triumph on home waters since Scott Gillman’s success in 2005. Seventeen boats took the start of the 48-lap race, although the Team Abu Dhabi duo were at the front and rear of the start pontoon heading towards the opening turn buoy 670 metres away.

Carella made a poor start and was beaten to the turn buoy by Selio and Andersson in slightly choppy conditiions, although the Swede hit the front on the home straight and began to power away from Selio, Chiappe and Carella in impressive fashion. Al-Qamzi began a charge from the rear of the field and had climbed from 17th to eighth after three laps.

Selio began to close in on Andersson through 10 laps and the gap was reduced to 3.84 seconds, as Carella maintained third and Al-Qamzi held on to eighth. Both Ziwei Xiong and Francesco Cantando had already withdrawn.

The leading 10 drivers retained their positions through one-third distance, but Torrente began to apply the pressure on Chiappe in a bid to reduce the Frenchman’s championship lead and Al-Qamzi passed Ahmed Al-Hameli and moved into seventh place and began to challenge Erik Stark for sixth.

With overtaking difficult in the tricky conditions on the Abu Dhabi course, Andersson headed into half distance with a lead of 2.94 seconds over Selio, as the leading duo began to pull away from Carella and the battle for fourth between Chiappe and Torrente. Al-Qamzi and Al-Hameli managed to pass a retiring Stark, with the Team Abu Dhabi driver climbing into sixth and then surging into fifth at the expense of Torrente when the American hit trouble.

By lap 30, Andersson’s lead over Selio was 5.21 seconds, although Carella began to close in on the Finn and Chiappe remained in a distant fourth until Andersson dramatically stopped on lap 33 and gifted the lead to Selio heading into the remaining 15 laps. The Swede’s demise moved Al-Qamzi into fourth place.

Carella became embroiled in an amazing battle with Selio over the closing laps. The pair was side-by-side down the straights until Carella passed a slowing Selio with three laps to go and surged into a lead he held to the finish. Selio was clearly struggling and began to slip down the leader board his demise promoting Chiappe to second place and Al-Qamzi to third.

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 got their challenge for honours in the second F-4S race off to a superb start when they qualified in first and second positions – the feat being a delighted Al-Mehairbi’s first ever career pole position. Race one winner Anton Nyholm was third, but runaway series leader Mike Szymura was classified down in seventh of the eight runners.

Nyholm made a superb start and he beat the Abu Dhabi boats to the first turn and began to power away from the pack. Al-Mehairbi hooked his Molgaard at the second turn and dropped to the rear of the field, with Ferdinand Zandbergen snatching second and Al-Qamzi slipping to sixth. The home duo moved back into fourth and fifth on lap four and maintained their position behind Nyholm, Zandbergen and Szymura until Al-Qamzi crashed on lap nine and forced a yellow flag situation. “It was a simple accident on the turn, I flipped the boat over and damaged the canopy,” said Al-Qamzi. “Nothing serious.”

The remaining sixth boats regrouped and Nyholm maintained his lead after the restart and went on to reach the chequered flag with a winning margin over Al-Mehairbi of 2.56 seconds. The Team Abu Dhabi driver moved ahead of Zandbergen with four laps to go and held his nerve to stave off the challenge from the Austrian and fourth-placed Szymura, who now needs four points at the final two races in Sharjah to retain his UIM F-4S title.

“I am very happy to get the second place here,” said Al-Mehairbi. “This is the second time I have finished second in F-4S. I was also second in China last time out.”

Carella and Al-Qamzi used the morning’s free practice session to make final adjustments to the set-up on the two boats and ran for seven and 30 laps respectively, with Al-Qamzi bedding in his new engine before the race. Ahmed Al-Hameli of the Emirates Team set the fastest lap of 45.64 seconds and pipped team-mate Erik Stark by just 0.6 seconds. Seventeen drivers took part in the session.

“For me it was a case of just doing a few starts and being comfortable with the set-up,” said Carella. “But the guys needed to sort out a few issues with Thani’s engine before the race.”

2015 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi – race result:
1. Alex Carella (ITA) Team Abu Dhabi 48 laps
2. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) China CTIC Team @ 48.54sec
3. Thani Al-Qamzi (ARE) Team Abu Dhabi L1
4. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team L1
5. Ahmed Al-Hameli (ARE) Emirates Team L1
6. Marit Stromoy (NOR) Team EMIC L1
7. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 GC Atlantic Team L1
8. Bartek Marszalak (POL) Motorglass F1 Team L3
9. Youssef Al-Rubayan (KUW) F1 GC Atlantic Team L3
10. Christophe Larigot (FRA) Team EMIC L4

2015 UIM F1 H2O World Championship – after round 5:
1. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) China CTIC Team 70 pts
2. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team 39 pts
2. Alex Carella (ITA) Team Abu Dhabi 39 pts
4. Youssef Al-Rubayan (KUW) F1 GC Atlantic Team 38 pts
5. Thani Al-Qamzi (ARE) Team Abu Dhabi 32 pts
6. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden 29 pts
7. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 28 pts
8. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Nautica 27 pts
9. Filip Roms (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 19 pts
10. Marit Stromoy (NOR) Team Nautica 18 pts

2015 UIM F-4S Trophy – current standings:
1. Mike Szymura (DEU) F1 GC Atlantic Team 94 pts
2. Joakhim Halvorsen (NOR) Team EMIC 58 pts
3. Mohammed Al-Mehairbi (ARE) Team Abu Dhabi 51 pts
4. Anton Nyholm (FIN) Team Sweden 40 pts
5. Rashed Al-Qemzi (ARE) Team Abu Dhabi 35 pts
6. Ferdinand Zandbergen (NED) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 31 pts
7. Bingchen Wu (CHN) CTIC China Team 30 pts
8. Christian Cesati (ITA) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 27 pts
9. Mansoor Al-Mansoori (ARE) Emirates Team 24 pts
9. Briney Rigby (AUS) Team Sweden 24 pts
11. Ronny Mathys (SUI) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 14 pts
12. Rashed Al-Remeithi (ARE) Team Abu Dhabi 6 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: 11/12/2015

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