F1 Team Abu Dhabi qualifies first and second for Grand Prix of Portugal


Grand Prix of Portimão, Portugal – May 18-20


· Torrente claims stunning pole position; Thani Al-Qemzi second and Rashed Al-Qemzi in 11th
· Mohammed Al-Mehairbi finishes second in first F4 race; victory for Pedro Fortuna

PORTIMÃO (PORTUGAL): Saturday, May 20: Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente and Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi made all the pre-season hard work pay dividends by qualifying in first, second and 11th positions for the Grand Prix of Portugal on the Arada River in Portimão on Saturday evening.

To avoid potentially disruptive weather and tidal conditions earlier in the day, the three-stage BRM Qualifying session was held as the sun began to set over the Algarve. The trio running DAC boats out of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) were on the pace throughout the afternoon and Torrente saved his best form until it really mattered to snatch the prime starting position for the race with a lap of 41.68 seconds in a thrilling Q3 shoot-out.

Thani Al-Qemzi pushed his new team-mate mightily close to seal second position, but Italy’s four-time World Champion Alex Carella was not able to break the sub 42-second barrier and the Victory Team driver qualified in third. His team-mate Ahmed Al-Hameli gave the UAE the first four places on the start pontoon. Three-time World Champion Philippe Chiappe and his French colleague Peter Morin rounded off the top six.

Torrente said: “I am so proud of the team. All the guys worked so hard and I thank everyone at the club who work so hard for us. Six months of work and it shows with first and second places. I love everything about the boat. Today I did a good job. But there is a little bit left on the table and that is what matters. Now we have to continue working and finish the job!”

Mohammed Al-Mehairbi represented Team Abu Dhabi in the first of the weekend’s two F4 Trophy races in his Molgaard. He qualified in pole position and went on to finish the race in second place behind Team Sweden’s Pedro Fortuna.

Etihad Airways is the official carrier for Team Abu Dhabi that is also supported by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council 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 and under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Sultan Bin Khalifa Al-Nahyan, Vice-President and CEO of the ADIMSC. The racing team runs under the umbrella of the ADIMSC, board member and general manager Salem Al-Remeithi and team manager Guido Cappellini.

“I am delighted for the whole team that our drivers have delivered a fantastic start to the new season with first and second on the grid,” said Salem Al-Remeithi. “A great deal of effort has gone into pre-season preparations. Now we have to continue this form into the race itself.”

BRM Qualifying

The first BRM Qualifying session of the new season was split into three sessions, with seven drivers losing out in Q1 and a further six dropping by the wayside in Q2. Less than a second separated the top 12 drivers with four minutes of a frantic Q1 session to run, although both Bartek Marszalek and Filip Roms failed to start and were eliminated alongside Simone Shuft, Cedric Deguisne, Sami Selio, Erik Stark and Erik Edin after Grant Trask survived to fight again in Q2 in the dying seconds. Three boats were under investigation: Edin had not qualified anyway but Torrente’s fastest lap of the session was erased. The Team Abu Dhabi driver qualified in any case, as Jonas Andersson was awarded the Q1 win.

Six further drivers would fall in Q2. Chiappe opened with a flyer of 42.92sec and moved to the top of the leader board, as Andersson was sidelined with boat damage. Carella, Thani Al-Qemzi and Torrente held top four positions heading into the final five minutes. But Q2 spelt the end of the road for Trask, Rashed Al-Qemzi, Francesco Cantando, Duarte Benavente and Marit Strømøy.

Peter Morin was first up in the six-boat shoot-out and posted the target of 42.16sec. He was unable to match that on his second run. Carella opened his account with a 42.03sec and shaved 1/100ths of a second off that time on his second run to move to the top of the rankings. Torrente opened with a stunning lap of 41.68sec and fell 3/100ths short on his second run but held the initiative.

His Team Abu Dhabi colleague Thani Al-Qemzi managed to snatch second position with a best lap of 41.75sec, but neither Al-Hameli nor Chiappe could match the American’s time and Team Abu Dhabi celebrated a famous 1-2 finish.


Racers were permitted to carry out two hours of extra free practice on Friday evening. The Team Abu Dhabi trio of Shaun Torrente and Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi dominated the early exchanges, but defending UIM F1 H20 World Champion Alex Carella eventually clocked the fastest lap of 41.80 seconds after carrying out 50 tours of the Arade River course.

Torrente’s quickest lap of 42.06 seconds saw the American finish the session in second place and lay down the gauntlet for a fascinating duel between the former team-mates. Andersson finished third and Chiappe and Edin rounded off the top five. Seventeen of the 19 entrants took to the water but Bartek Marszalek and Grant Trask sat out the session.

Torrente won the official practice session in rough conditions on Saturday afternoon with a last gasp lap of 43.29 seconds, with Chiappe, Carella and Thani Al-Qemzi all impressing in second, third and fourth places. Rashed Al-Qemzi finished the stint in seventh.

F4 – race one

Pedro Fortuna made a superb start to the race and managed to pass Al-Meharbi and take the lead. The duo held station through four laps, as Max Stilz maintained third and Tom Chiappe climbed from the rear of the field to fourth and passed the German before the halfway point to shadow Fortuna and Al-Mehairbi. Team Sweden’s Fontuna held on to claim a stunning win and Al-Mehairbi started his campaign with second overall. Chiappe rounded off the podium places.

10 boats had lined up at the start of the season for the first of the two 20-minute races in Portugal. Al-Mehairbi made an immediate impact in the timed trials and posted the target lap of 54.15 seconds in the first few minutes, before improving still further with a 54.07sec tour.

That was sufficient to give the Emirati pole position. F4 Trophy newcomers Quentin Dailly and Max Stilz qualified in second and third positions. British F4 racer Sam Whittle slotted into fourth place on his F4 Trophy debut, although neither Tom Chiappe nor Rudolf Mihaldinecz took part in qualifying.

Sunday’s on-water action gets underway with free practice and this precedes F4 practice, timed trials and the second of the F4 races. The 2018 Grand Prix of Portugal then takes centre stage at 18.00hrs (21.00hrs UAE time).

2018 Grand Prix of Portugal – BRM Qualifying result

1. Shaun Torrente (USA) Team Abu Dhabi 41.68sec
2. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 41.75sec
3. Alex Carella (ITA) Victory Team 42.02sec
4. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team 42.11sec
5. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 42.14sec
6. Peter Morin (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 42.16sec
7. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team 43.59sec
8. Grant Trask (AUS) F1 Atlantic Team 44.53sec
9. Marit Strømøy (NOR) Emirates Racing Team 44.55sec
10. Francesco Cantando (ITA) Blaze F1 Team 44.72sec
11. Rashed Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 45.02sec
12. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden 46.79sec
13. Erik Edin (SWE) Team Sweden 45.00sec
14. Erik Stark (SWE) Maverick F1 Racing 45.12sec
15. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 46.87sec
16. Cédric Deguisne (FRA) Maverick F1 Team 47.69sec
17. Simone Schuft (DEU) Blaze F1 Team 56.27sec
Bartek Marszalak (POL) Emirates Racing Team DNS
Filip Roms (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team DNS

2018 UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Championship – standings after round 1:
1. Shaun Torrente (USA) Team Abu Dhabi 20pts
2. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 15pts
3. Alex Carella (ITA) Victory Team 12pts
4. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team 9pts
5. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 7pts
6. Peter Morin (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 5pts

2018 F4 Trophy – positions after race 1:
1. Pedro Fortuna (PRT) Team Sweden 20pts
2. Mohammed Al-Mehairbi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 15pts
3. Tom Chiappe (FRA) Emirates Racing Team 12pts
4. Max Stilz (DEU) Blaze Performance 9pts
5. Wu Bingchen (CHN) CTIC F1 China Team 7pts
6. Quentin Dailly (FRA) Maverick Racing 5pts
7. Ahmed Al-Fahim (UAE) Victory Team 4pts
8. Ian Gonsalves (GUY) Maverick Racing 3pts
Sam Whittle (GBR) F1 Atlantic Team 0pt
Rudolf Mihaldinecz (HUN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 0pt

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: 19/05/2018

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