F1 Stark, Al-Qemzi and Torrente qualify in pole, third and seventh for Grand Prix of France


22nd Grand Prix of France, Évian-les-Bains – June 29-July 1


· London race winner Erik Stark fastest in first practice session on Team Abu Dhabi debut

ÉVIAN-LES-BAINS (FRANCE): Saturday, June 30: Team Abu Dhabi’s racing trio of Erik Stark, Thani Al-Qemzi and Shaun Torrente qualified in pole position, third and seventh places for Sunday afternoon’s 22nd Grand Prix of France at Évian-les-Baines in south-eastern France.

Qualifying for the third round of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship on the six-pin, 2.08km course on Lac Leman developed into a gripping tussle, with a mere 1/100ths of a second separating pole winner Stark from three-time World Champion Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team. Team Abu Dhabi’s new signing left it until his last lap to card the winning time of 51.17sec that gave him a second successive pole and the lead of the UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Championship.

Team Abu Dhabi team-mate Al-Qemzi shadowed Stark and Chiappe to the finish in third position, with veteran Francesco Cantando in fourth and Bartek Marszalak and Marit Strømøy rounding off the top six. A communications’ mix-up meant that Torrente missed out on Q3 by just 1/100ths of a second and qualified in seventh.

A disappointed Torrente said: “It was a mis-communication with the radio man. He told me I was good (for Q3) and don’t take another lap. You are good. And then I wasn’t good any more.”

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.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Sultan Bin Khalifa Al-Nahyan, Vice-President of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club, attended the race and was given the opportunity to sit in one of the DAC race boats on Friday.

BRM Qualifying

Qualifying was split into three sessions with seven boats being eliminated in the 20 minutes of Q1 and a further six falling by the wayside in Q2 to leave six boats to fight out the tussle for pole position. Drivers started cautiously with small rollers on the course in the opening minutes, although Torrente was late on to the water with a fuel pressure-related engine issue. No-one was able to break the 56-second barrier in the opening four minutes. Stark topped the times with a 56.48sec lap.

Ahmed Al-Hameli carded a 55.48sec tour after six minutes to top the standings, but a flying Torrente stormed to the top with an opening run of 54.86sec. His time was surpassed by Erik Edin’s lap of 54.30sec and Stark’s run of 53.83sec. Sami Selio eventually pulled up with engine issues and was eliminated alongside Cédric Deguisne, Mette Bjerknaes, Simone Shuft, Duarte Benavente, Alex Carella and Jonas Andersson in a session that was won by Peter Morin in a last gasp lap of 51.96sec. Carella’s switch to a BaBa boat after his London accident was a costly one for the four-time World Champion and he missed out in 13th place.

A further six boats would fall by the wayside in the 15 minutes of Q2. Stark began well with a 55.09sec lap although his time was beaten by Chiappe’s run of 53.70sec with seven minutes remaining. Al-Qemzi moved into second and his rise knocked Torrente out of the top six. But the American was not to be denied and he moved back into the top six alongside Chiappe, Stark, Al-Qemzi Marszalak and Morin. Erik Edin then pushed Morin out of the top six and Strømøy kept the pressure on in what was developing into a Q2 thriller.

Stark eventually won the session with a lap of 51.51sec, but Torrente missed out by 1/100ths of a second in the dying seconds and was eliminated alongside Grant Trask, Filip Roms, Erik Edin, Ahmed Al-Hameli and Peter Morin.

Al-Qemzi made Q3 and was the first driver on to the course. The Team Abu Dhabi driver carded an opener of 51.46sec and was not able to improve on his second run. Veteran Italian Cantando was next up and he started with a 51.97sec and was not able to improve on his second run either.

Norway’s Marit Strømøy began with a 55.01sec and improved with a 53.36sec lap. Chiappe opened his account with a 51.18sec to snatch provisional pole and that left the door open for Bartek Marszalak and Stark to try and prevent the Frenchman claiming pole. The Emirates Racing Team driver started with 52.98sec and his second run of 52.77sec was also short of the mark.

Stark fell short with an opener of 52.10sec, but the Swede saved his best until last and he teetered on the edge of disaster to snatch pole from Chiappe by just 1/100ths of a second with a time of 51.17sec.

Free Practice 1

There had been no extra free practice on Friday afternoon and the first time that the drivers had been able to see the course was the one-hour practice session on Saturday morning. Al-Qemzi started strongly and was the first of the drivers to break the 50-second barrier with a lap of 49.92sec. Stark’s first few laps with Team Abu Dhabi netted a time of 51.41sec.

After the first 13 minutes of the session, Jonas Andersson topped the times with a lap of 49.42sec from Torrente (49.70sec) and Al-Qemzi’s earlier time. These were the only three drivers to break the 50-second barrier.

Stark then went fastest with a 49.39sec flier to set the target for his new team-mates and his rivals and, after 25 minutes of the session, five drivers had broken the 50-second barrier and Stark had raised the bar still further to 49.06sec. Defending champion Alex Carella was struggling at the rear of the 19-boat field with set-up issues.

With 15 minutes of the session remaining, only the three Team Abu Dhabi drivers, Andersson and Ahmed Al-Hameli had managed to break 50 seconds and Stark continued to lead the way on his new team debut with a lap of 49.06sec. The Swede eventually ran for 26 laps and won the practice session by an impressive 0.36 seconds.

A second practice session will be permitted at the same time on Sunday morning and the Grand Prix of France takes centre stage from 15.00hrs.

2018 Grand Prix of France – BRM Qualifying times:

1. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Abu Dhabi 51.17sec
2. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 51.18sec
3. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 51.46sec
4. Francesco Cantando (ITA) Blaze F1 Team 51.97sec
5. Bartek Marszalak (POL) Emirates Racing Team 52.77sec
6. Marit Strømøy (NOR) Emirates Racing Team 53.36sec
7. Shaun Torrente (USA) Team Abu Dhabi 52.52sec
8. Peter Morin (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 52.56sec
9. Erik Edin (SWE) Team Sweden 53.48sec
10. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team 54.28sec
11. Grant Trask (AUS) F1 Atlantic Team 54.89sec
12. Filip Roms (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 54.93sec
13. Alex Carella (ITA) Victory Team 54.58sec
14. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden 54.75sec
15. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team 54.92sec
16. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 56.14sec
17. Cédric Deguisne (FRA) Maverick F1 Team 57.37sec
18. Mette Bjerknaes (NOR) Maverick F1 Team 59.00sec
19. Simone Schuft (DEU) Blaze F1 Team 1min 06.62sec

2018 UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Championship – standings after round 3:
1. Erik Stark (SWE) Maverick F1 Team/Team Abu Dhabi 40pts
2. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 37pts
3. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 27pts
4. Alex Carella (ITA) Victory Team 24pts
5. Shaun Torrente (USA) Team Abu Dhabi 20pts
6. Peter Morin (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 14pts
7. Bartek Marszalak (POL) Emirates Racing Team 12pts
8. Francesco Cantando (ITA) Blaze F1 Team 9pts
8. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team 9pts
10. Erik Edin (SWE) Team Sweden 7pts
11. Marit Strømøy (NOR) Emirates Racing Team 5pts


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: 30/06/2018

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