F1 Team Abu Dhabi's Al-Qamzi reaches Q3 as Carella qualifies ninth in China


Grand Prix of China, September 30-October 2


Q3 pole position shoot-out postponed until Friday morning on safety grounds
Rashed Al-Qemzi on pole but crashes out of first F-4S race; victory for Szymura; Al-Mehairbi in third

LIUZHOU (CHINA): Thursday, October 1: Qualifying for the 2015 Grand Prix of China took place on the Lui River in Luizhou on Thursday afternoon and Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al-Qamzi reached the final six-boat shoot out, but Alex Carella qualified for Friday’s race in ninth position before race officials postponed the day’s racing on safety grounds.

The duo had dominated the morning’s free practice session, but a crash involving Erik Stark at the start of Q2 meant that much of the crucial Q2 qualifying time was lost under a yellow flag and Carella ran out of time in his bid to reach the final six-boat shoot-out.

UIM officials then decided to postpone the six-boat Q3 shoot-out until Friday morning, as gusting winds blew across the Lui River course and made racing conditions too hazardous. Al-Qamzi will now line-up with defending World Champion Philippe Chiappe, Portugal’s Duarte Benavente, Finland’s double World Champion Sami Selio, Sweden’s Jonas Andersson and Kuwait’s Yousef Al-Rubayan to determine the top six qualifying positions in a rescheduled Q3 session on Friday morning.

“This is effectively a new team coming together and I am more or less happy with results and how we are progressing,” said Team Abu Dhabi’s team manager Guido Cappellini. “Every race we are making changes and improvements and, at the next race, we will have a new boat and will test new solutions and new propellers. We need a good result in China. Alex is normally very good here and very fast. Now we need to see what tomorrow brings.”

Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qemzi was the fastest qualifier in the warm-up to the first of the weekend’s two F-4S races, but he retired after a spectacular crash on turn one of lap one of the 22-lap race that was dominated by Germany’s Mike Szymura after the restart. The F1 GC Atlantic Team driver finished 5.89 seconds in front of Australian’s Briney Rigby. Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi qualified in fourth and reached the chequered flag in third place.

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).


Eighteen of the 19 registered drivers lined up for the start of the three sessions of qualifying, with six eliminated in Q1 and a further six being removed in Q2, before the traditional six-boat shoot-out over two laps to determine pole position.

Al-Qamzi laid down the early gauntlet in Q1 with a lap of 48.03sec and that was sufficient to put the Emirati straight into Q2 after the wind strengthened during the session. Carella carded a best time of 49.38sec and reached Q2 from sixth place, but Bernd Enzenhofer, Nadir bin Hendi, Christophe Larigot, Marit Stromoy, Francesco Cantando and Filip Roms failed to reach Q2.

The field would be whittled down to six boats after Q2. Al-Qamzi was back in form from the restart and carded a 50.89sec lap to hit the front after three and a half minutes of the 20-minute session. But an accident involving Erik Stark of the Emirates Team forced a yellow flag situation in deteriorating wind conditions on the far side of the course.

A frantic series leader Shaun Torrente was towed off the water with a technical problem before racing resumed with just two minutes remaining in Q2. Philippe Chiappe stormed through after the restart to post a lap of 50.61sec and the Frenchman was joined in the shoot-out by Al-Qamzi, Yousef Al-Rubayan, Sami Selio, Jonas Andersson and Duarte Benavente.

The delay and the lost time meant that Stark, Jesper Forss, Ziwei Xiong, Torrente, Carella and Ahmed Al-Hameli failed to reach Q1, with Ziong involving in a spectacular crash in the dying seconds to force another yellow flag situation. Gusting winds continued to blow across the river and the top six shoot-out was postponed until Friday morning on safety grounds.

Carella had posted the quickest time of 46.08sec in Thursday morning’s official practice session. “I didn’t make many laps, but the set-up was good and I know what propeller works on this circuit.” Team-mate Al-Qamzi was second with a time of 46.33sec and the pair were well clear of Team EMIC’s third-placed Marit Stromoy. Eighteen of the 19 boats took to the water for the session.


Team Abu Dhabi opted to run Rashed Al-Qemzi and Mohammed Al-Mehairbi in the first of the weekend’s two 20-minute F-4S races and Al-Qemzi was in form again in the time trials and claimed pole position for the UAE-based team. He carded a quickest lap of 47.07sec and that was over half a second quicker than the time set by runner-up Mike Szymura of the F1 GC Atlantic Team. Briney Rigby qualified third for Team Sweden. Running under the Mad-Croc team banner, Al-Mehairbi started the 22-lap race from fourth.

The race was yellow flagged after the first turn on lap one after a crash involving Al-Qemzi. Szymura had hit the front from the lights and he headed Rigby and Al-Mehairbi under the resultant yellow flag. The green flag was waved on lap four, with Al-Qemzi and Bingchen Wu sidelined and Szymura beginning to pull away from Rigby and a hard-charging Ferdinand Zanderbergen.

By lap seven, Szymura’s lead had grown to 5.2 seconds over Zanderbergen and Al-Mehairbi was ensconced in fourth place, but Rigby regained second soon afterwards and Al-Mehairbi climbed to third. Zanderbergen continued to slip down the field and was down in sixth before retiring after 15 laps with an overheating engine. Szymura led Rigby by 5.5 seconds and Al-Mehairbi was a close third.

Szymura held on to reach the chequered flag 5.89 seconds in front of Rigby to extend his lead at the top of the F-4S Championship to 23 points. Al-Mehairbi was an impressive third for Team Abu Dhabi and Christian Cesati finished fourth.

F-4S teams will be permitted further free practice and time trials on Friday morning, before the second of the F-4S races starts at 11.10hrs and the Grand Prix of China takes centre stage from 14.00hrs (10am UAE time).

2015 UIM F-4S Trophy – standings after race 3:
1. Mike Szymura (DEU) F1 GC Atlantic Team 60 pts
2. Joakhim Halvorsen (NOR) Team EMIC 37 pts
3. Christian Cesati (ITA) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 25 pts
4. Bingchen Wu (CHN) CTIC China Team 18 pts
5. Rashed Al-Qemzi (ARE) Team Abu Dhabi 16 pts
6. Briney Rigby (AUS) Team Sweden 15 pts
7. Ronny Mathys (SUI) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 14 pts
7. Ferdinand Zandbergen (NED) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 14 pts
9. Mohammed Al-Mehairbi (ARE) Team Abu Dhabi 12 pts
10. Mansoor Al-Mansoori (ARE) Emirates Team 9 pts
11. 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: 01/10/2015

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