F1 Torrente and Thani Al-Qemzi complete impressive 1-2 finish for Team Abu Dhabi in Portugal


Grand Prix of Portimão, Portugal – May 18-20


PORTIMÃO (PORTUGAL): Sunday, May 20: Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente and Thani Al-Qemzi delivered stunning performances at Sunday evening’s Grand Prix of Portugal to claim first and second positions for their team running out of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC).

The American and the Emirati had qualified in first and second positions and held their nerve, despite a yellow-flag situation on the opening lap, to give the defending UIM Teams’ Championship winners a superb start to the season. Torrente’s 2.09-second victory on the Arada River in Portimão was the Miami driver’s first since the 2016 Grand Prix of Sharjah. Rashed Al-Qemzi finished 13th in the third Team Abu Dhabi boat

A delighted Torrente said: “This was a perfect weekend for the team with a 1-2 finish. We had perfect preparation, everything went to plan, all the hard work paid off and the boat was fantastic. Now I am going to go home and hope that this wonderful start to the season wasn’t a dream!”
Three-time World Champion Philippe Chiappe shadowed Italy’s four-time World Champion Alex Carella for the majority of the race and managed to find a way passed the Italian with 13 laps to run. The Frenchman then went on a charge to try and hunt down Thani Al-Qemzi and reached the finish a mere 1.45 seconds behind the runner-up in third place.

Carella, driving for the Victory Team, suffered trim issues and came under pressure from Chiappe’s CTIC China Team colleague Peter Morin and held on to a slender advantage to seal fourth place. His Victory Team colleague Ahmed Al-Hameli rounded off the top six.

Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi finished fourth in the second of the F4 Trophy races, where victory fell to young Frenchman Tom Chiappe.

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.

Grand Prix of Portugal

After a violent thunderstorm passed over the race course minutes before the start, Team Abu Dhabi’s trio of Torrente and Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi started the 48-lap race from first, second and 11th on the pontoon, but an engine change meant that Marit Strømøy was forced to start from the rear of the field. Torrente stormed out of the blocks and he and Thani Al-Qemzi began to edge clear of their rivals, as Carella struggled to get going and Chiappe and Al-Hameli moved up to third and fourth positions.

The race was yellow-flagged almost straight away when Jonas Andersson’s engine caught fire after a collision with Strømøy. Both drivers were forced to retire before the green flag was raised on lap five. The Team Abu Dhabi duo maintained their positions, although Carella was the main beneficiary of the re-start and settled back into third place, with Chiappe, Morin and Al-Hameli rounding off the top six. Rashed Al-Qemzi held 13th.

Chiappe began to pressurise Carella, as Torrente completed his ninth lap with a lead of 3.63 seconds over his team-mate but Filip Roms completed a miserable weekend for the Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team by retiring. Rashed Al-Qemzi was struggling towards the rear of the field in 14th place.

By lap 16, Torrente’s lead over Thani Al-Qemzi had grown to 4.28 seconds, although the tussle for third was continuing between Carella and Chiappe. Morin was a distant fifth and Al-Hameli was dropping time in sixth. Al-Qemzi began to close the gap slightly on his team-mate as the race reached lap 20 but the top 10 were holding station and 15 boats remained in the race.

At the halfway point, after 24 laps, Team Abu Dhabi maintained the top two positions and Torrente edged away from his Emirati colleague again to lead by 3.61 seconds. But the leaders started to move in on the back-markers and Al-Qemzi closed to within 2.03 seconds heading into lap 27 of what was developing into a processional race after the first lap drama.

Conditions began to deteriorate slightly as the race progressed and the boats were also losing their fuel loads and becoming lighter. Torrente put in the fist sub-46-second lap of the race and continued to lead Al-Qemzi by 3.51 seconds into lap 32. Less than a second separated Carella and Chiappe in the battle for third place. Rashed Al-Qemzi was running four laps down in 14th place.

Chiappe managed to squeeze passed Carella to gain third place on lap 34 and romped away from the Italian. He also posted the fastest lap of the race thus far – 45.67sec – but the Team Abu Dhabi duo were too far in front of the Frenchman with only 11 laps remaining. By the start of lap 39, Torrente led Al-Qemzi by 4.39 seconds and Chiappe was already nearly nine seconds in front of a struggling Carella. Morin and Al-Hameli maintained fifth and sixth.

Torrente was now counting down the laps and trying to stay out of traffic, as Morin began to apply severe pressure on Carella in the battle for fourth with the Italian struggling with trim issues. With five laps remaining, Torrente maintained a lead of 3.76 seconds but Al-Qemzi could feel Chiappe breathing down his neck in third, as Cedric Deguisne retired with engine issues within five laps of the finish.

Torrente held his nerve and managed to reach the chequered flag to claim a famous victory by the margin of 2.09 seconds, despite losing vital time trying to overtake sixth-placed Al-Hameli. Al-Qemzi held off Chiappe to finish second and Carella and Morin rounded off the top five.

F4 – race two

Frenchman Tom Chiappe lined up on pole position for the second of the F4 races but the weather had turned for the worse and a violent thunderstorm affected the area. Max Stilz almost blew over on the outgoing lap and there was more drama for the Victory Teams Ahmed Al-Fahim. Chiappe went on to take the chequered flag and a maximum points haul, with Pedro Fortuna reaching the chequered flag in second place and Quentin Dailly rounding off the podium places. Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi finished fourth.

Dailly made the first move in the qualifying session with a lap of 55.17sec, only for Chiappe to move to the top of the rankings with a 54.72. Dailly redressed the balance with a 54.50, while Al-Mehairbi climbed to fourth behind Fortuna and then moved up to third with a lap of 55.08sec as thunder rattled through the skies overhead and dark clouds gathered. A lap of 54.73sec enabled Fortuna to regain third with less than five minutes remaining and Chiappe managed to snatch pole with a late tour of 54.32sec to set up an intriguing race showdown. British F4 racer Sam Whittle changed the set-up of his boat and qualified in eighth as a result.

Free practice and the remainder of the weekend’s F4 timetable were brought forward to precede the last of the official F1 practice sessions because of low tide conditions. Chiappe was the quickest in the warm-up with a lap of 54.17sec. Al-Mehairbi ran for eight laps and carded the second quickest circuit of 54.67sec. All 10 boats took to the water for the first time over race weekend but the session ended with a yellow flag after Ian Gonsalves inverted his Maverick F1 Racing-run Moore.

2018 Grand Prix of Portugal – result
1. Shaun Torrente (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 48 laps
2. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi @2.09sec
3. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team @3.54sec
4. Alex Carella (ITA) Victory Team @25.75sec
5. Peter Morin (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team @26.83sec
6. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team @53.00sec
7. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team L1
8. Francesco Cantando (ITA) Blaze F1 Team L1
9. Erik Edin (SWE) Team Sweden L1
10. Erik Stark (SWE) Maverick F1 Racing L1
11. Bartek Marszalak (POL) Emirates Racing Team L2
12. Cédric Deguisne (FRA) Maverick F1 Team DNF
13. Rashed Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi L6
14. Grant Trask (AUS) F1 Atlantic Team DNF
15. Simone Schuft (DEU) Blaze F1 Team L10
Filip Roms (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team DNF
Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden DNF
Marit Strømøy (NOR) Emirates Racing Team DNF
Sami Selio (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team DNS

2018 UIM F1 H2O World Championship – standings after round 1:
1. Shaun Torrente (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 20pts
2. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 15pts
3. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 12pts
4. Alex Carella (ITA) Victory Team 9pts
5. Peter Morin (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 7pts
6. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team 5pts
7. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team 4pts
8. Francesco Cantando (ITA) Blaze F1 Team 3pts
9. Erik Edin (SWE) Team Sweden 2pts
10. Erik Stark (SWE) Maverick F1 Racing 1pt

2018 F4 Trophy – positions after race 2:
1. Pedro Fortuna (PRT) Team Sweden 35pts
2. Tom Chiappe (FRA) Emirates Racing Team 32pts
3. Mohammed Al-Mehairbi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 24pts
4. Quentin Dailly (FRA) Maverick Racing 17pts
5. Max Stilz (DEU) Blaze Performance 14pts
6. Wu Bingchen (CHN) CTIC F1 China Team 14pts
7. Ahmed Al-Fahim (UAE) Victory Team 7pts
8. Sam Whittle (GBR) F1 Atlantic Team 4pts
9. Ian Gonsalves (GUY) Maverick Racing 3pts
10. Rudolf Mihaldinecz (HUN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 2pts

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: 20/05/2018

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