F1 Torrente claims pole position for Team Abu Dhabi in thrilling Indian qualifying session


Grand Prix of India, Amaravati – November 16-18


· Team Abu Dhabi’s Stark and Al-Qemzi in third and fourth behind Marit Strømøy
· Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi moves into UIM F4 Trophy lead with fifth in race one

AMARAVATI (INDIA): Saturday, November 17: Team Abu Dhabi’s championship-topping trio of Shaun Torrente, Erik Stark and Thani Al-Qemzi will start Sunday’s Grand Prix of India on the Krishna River in Amaravati from pole position, third and fourth positions after another thrilling BRM Qualifying session on Saturday afternoon.

As the 2018 UIM F1 H2O World Championship heads for a thrilling showdown with this weekend’s race and two titanic contests to follow in the UAE in December, Torrente left it until his last lap in Q3 qualifying to deny Norwegian female racer Marit Strømøy of a second career pole position.

Team Abu Dhabi team-mates Erik Stark and Thani Al-Qemzi, Erik Stark qualified close behind in third and fourth to set up the prospect of a thrilling showdown on the 2.125km course. Team Amaravati’s Jonas Andersson qualified in fifth place and Ahmed Al-Hameli of the Victory Team was sixth.

Three-time World Champion Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team and defending champion Alex Carella of the Victory Team failed to reach Q3.

Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi continued his push for the UIM F4 Trophy title. The Emirati finished the 20-lap race in fifth position to move three points ahead of Germany’s Max Stilz with five races remaining. Hungarian pole sitter Rudolf Mihaldinecz overcame a fierce challenge from Ben Jelf to win his first race of the season.

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.

BRM Qualifying

BRM qualifying was again split into three sessions with seven of the 19 entrants eliminated in the opening 20 minutes of Q1 and a further six leaving the fray in the 15 minutes of Q2. The top six would then be permitted two laps each to determine Pole Position Championship points and the starting order for the race.

The Victory Team’s Al-Hameli and Carella started strongly and respective lap times of 48.52sec and 48.78sec all but booked their places in Q2. Torrente stormed to the top of the standings soon afterwards with a 48.22sec tour and that was surpassed by Chiappe’s 47.95sec run heading into the last 10 minutes. The yellow flag was raised briefly soon afterwards after Chiappe ground to a halt on the course. But the Frenchman made his way back to the pits without further delays, as team-mate Peter Morin tested a new shorter boat for the team.

Stark entered the course late in the session but the Team Abu Dhabi driver was up to speed quickly and set an opening top 10 lap of 49.02sec. Al-Qemzi went quickest with a 47.02sec in the last four minutes and Carella also passed Chiappe to book his Q2 place.

Andersson, Al-Qemzi and Stark eventually topped the session times and Torrente moved through in sixth place, but Cédric Deguisne, Sutthipan Sookbuangbon, Simone Schuft, Erik Edin, double World Champion Sami Selio, Filip Roms and Grant Trask were eliminated.

Six more drivers would fall by the wayside in Q2. Torrente stormed to the top of the timings with a lap of 46.78sec and Al-Qemzi and Al-Hameli followed suit to hold second and third before Stark posted a 46.79sec tour. Carella then stormed to the front with a 46.27sec lap and demoted Torrente to fifth behind Al-Qemzi, Al-Hameli and Stark.

Fractions of a second separated nine drivers heading into the closing minutes and Torrente was down in seventh place until his last lap of 45.82sec pushed the American to the top of the standings ahead of Al-Qemzi and Stark. Strømøy, Al-Hameli and Andersson also qualified. Bartak Marszalek, Duarte Benavente, Francesco Cantando, Peter Morin, a stunned Alex Carella and Phlippe Chiappe were eliminated.

Guido Cappellini said: “This was not easy at all. My heart was working too much. In the last 10 seconds Torrente arrived in the first position. Now we see Team Abu Dhabi in 1-2-3 again. This is a difficult race course. It is important to have a little luck and Shaun had a little luck at the end of that session.”

Andersson was first out for Q3 and the Team Amaravati driver carded an opening target lap of 45.22sec. Al-Hameli opened his account with a 45.43sec lap and improved with a 45.23sec, but missed out on provisional pole by 1/100ths of a second. Strømøy stormed to the top with a 44.72sec flyer and that left the Team Abu Dhabi trio to try and beat the Norwegian.

Stark was the first of the drivers out of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) to challenge for pole. He opened his account with a 45.00sec lap and slotted into second place. Championship leader Al-Qemzi was next up and the Emirati began with a tour of 45.06sec as he tried to claim a first pole for 11 years. He moved into third place and was not able to improve on his second run.

All eyes were on Torrente to see if the Team Abu Dhabi could beat the Norwegian. The American opened with an aborted run of 49.85sec and then stormed to pole with a stunning lap of 44.54sec to deprive his female rival of the bragging rights.

Official practice

After a spectacular procession through the streets by the teams with a fanfare carnival put on by the local population, Torrente topped the times in extra free practice on Friday afternoon with a best run of 45.64sec and that was 0.61 seconds quicker than the run recorded by Jonas Andersson. Al-Qemzi settled into fourth position behind Victory Team’s Carella. But technical trouble curtailed Stark’s progress and he only managed two laps on the Krishna River course.

The leader board swapped and changed several times during the course of an action-packed one-hour official practice session on Saturday. Selio, Stark, Strømøy and Carella all topped the rankings for a time and the Victory Team’s defending champion headed into the last 10 minutes with the fastest lap of 47.03sec.

But Torrente snatched the lead soon afterwards with a run of 46.74sec and that was surpassed by a 46.42sec set by Carella’s team-mate Ahmed Al-Hameli. Stark hit the front with a lap of 45.97sec in the dying seconds, as Torrente finished third behind Al-Hameli and Al-Qemzi was eighth.

F4 Trophy – race 1

Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi trailed Germany’s Max Stilz by four points heading into the Indian race weekend and the Emirati qualified in fourth position (57.22sec) for the first of the 20-lap races after topping the times in the free practice session with a lap of 57.68sec. Rudolf Mihaldinecz claimed pole position with a lap of 56.03sec from England’s Ben Jelf (56.94sec).

The Hungarian held his line through the opening turns of the race and headed Jelf by 1.78 seconds at the end of lap one with Al-Mehairbi in fifth of the nine starters behind Stilz and Sam Whittle. The processional field held station through one-quarter distance, but Jelf hit the front on lap six and began to pull away and Al-Mehairbi slipped behind Ahmed Al-Fahim and into sixth on the next lap and then behind Tom Chiappe into seventh.

Jelf maintained a slender 1.42-second lead at half-distance and Al-Mehairbi regained a place when Stilz retired on lap 11 and the yellow flag was raised until five laps from the finish. Mihaldinecz snatched the lead at the restart and Al-Meharibi overtook Al-Fahim to regain fifth place with the Hungarian holding on to claim a 5.22-second win over Jelf at the chequered flag. Al-Mehairbi moved into the championship lead with fifth place.

Further F4 practice and time trials precede a third F1 H2O practice session on Sunday morning and the second of the F4 races, starting at 15.15hrs. The Grand Prix of India is scheduled for 16.00hrs (14.30hrs UAE time).

2018 Grand Prix of India – BRM Qualifying times:
1. Shaun Torrente (USA) Team Abu Dhabi 44.54sec
2. Marit Strømøy (NOR) Emirates Racing Team 44.72sec
3. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Abu Dhabi 45.00sec
4. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 45.06sec
5. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Amaravati 45.22sec
6. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team 45.23sec
7. Peter Morin (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 47.04sec
8. Alex Carella (ITA) Victory Team 47.25sec
9. Francesco Cantando (ITA) Blaze F1 Team 47.50sec
10. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Tea 47.52sec
11. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team 47.91sec
12. Bartek Marszalak (POL) Emirates Racing Team DNS
13. Grant Trask (AUS) F1 Atlantic Team 48.82sec
14. Filip Roms (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 48.98sec
15. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 49.37sec
16. Cédric Deguisne (FRA) Maverick F1 Team 50.84sec
17. Simone Schuft (DEU) Blaze F1 Team 54.85sec
18. Sutthipan Sookbuangbon (THI) Maverick F1 Team 55.00sec
19. Erik Edin (SWE) Team Amaravati 57.03sec

2018 UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Championship – standings after round 5:
1. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Abu Dhabi 67pts
2. Shaun Torrente (USA) Team Abu Dhabi 60pts
3. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 45pts
4. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 42pts
5. Alex Carella (ITA) Victory Team 24pts
6. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team 21pts
7. Marit Strømøy (NOR) Emirates Racing Team 20pts
8. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Amaravati 19pts
9. Peter Morin (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 14pts
10. Bartek Marszalak (POL) Emirates Racing Team 12pts
11. Francesco Cantando (ITA) Blaze F1 Team 9pts
12. Erik Edin (SWE) Team Sweden/Team Amaravati 7pts

2018 F4 Trophy – positions after race 7:
1. Mohammed Al-Mehairbi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 81pts
2. Max Stilz (DEU) Blaze Performance 78pts
3. Tom Chiappe (FRA) Emirates Racing Team 58pts
4. Sam Whittle (GBR) F1 Atlantic Team 55pts
5. Ahmed Al-Fahim (UAE) Victory Team 43pts
6. Wu Bingchen (CHN) CTIC F1 China Team 40pts
7. Pedro Fortuna (PRT) Team Sweden 35pts
8. Alexander Lindholm (FIN) Team Amaravati 29pts
9. Rudolf Mihaldinecz (HUN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 22pts
10. Xavier Autard (FRA) Maverick Racing 21pts
11. Quentin Dailly (FRA) Maverick Racing 17pts
12. Ben Jelf (GBR) Team Amaravati 15pts
13. Joris Colleret (FRA) Maverick Racing 7pts
14. Louise Vella (AUS) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 5pts
15. Camille Broutechoux (FRA) Maverick Racing 4pts
16. Ian Gonsalves (GUY) Maverick Racing 3pts


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: 17/11/2018

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