F1 Team Abu Dhabi's Stark, Al-Qemzi and Torrente qualify first, third and sixth in Abu Dhabi


Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi, UAE – December 6-8


· Pole-winning Stark clinches UIM Pole Position title; frustration for a flying Strømøy
· Mohammed Al-Mehairbi finishes fifth in F4; start-to-finish win for Tom Chiappe
· Stark pips team-mate Torrente to fastest time in morning’s practice session

ABU DHABI (UAE): Friday, December 7: Team Abu Dhabi again deprived Marit Strømøy of the Emirates Racing Team of pole position in a dramatic finale to the BRM Qualifying session for the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at the Abu Dhabi Breakwater on Friday afternoon. In so doing, pole-winning Erik Stark also claimed the 2019 UIM Pole Position Championship title.

With the Norwegian sitting pretty at the top of the timing board - as she had done in India last month before being deprived of pole by Shaun Torrente - it was Stark’s turn to upset the applecart on this occasion and give his title hopes a major boost with a stunning final qualifying lap of 42.81sec.

The lead changed several times in a thrilling six-boat Q3 shoot-out that eventually saw Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al-Qemzi qualify in third position and Team Amaravati’s Jonas Andersson and Erik Edin delivering impressive performances to qualify in fourth and fifth. Championship leader Torrente had been first on the water in not ideal water conditions and the American settled for sixth place with the start of Saturday’s race from the pontoon now taking on even greater significance.

A delighted Stark said: “I will enjoy this moment now and the podium and then, in 30 minutes, we start the work for tomorrow. It’s hot, it’s going to be a long race and it’s going to be tough. I didn’t actually do a perfect lap, but it was enough. It was amazing. I have been in Abu Dhabi since India. I knew if I had fun out there I would do well. All race winners this year have been from pole, so I knew the importance of the qualifying.”

Team Abu Dhabi’s team manager Guido Cappeliini added: “It’s an incredible end of this season. The drivers now are very close, especially our three drivers. There is a big pressure for this race and the next one. Fortunately, Thani now has a very good chance for tomorrow. Normally he makes a very good start, all the season. Maybe all our three boats can push hard and we can get three boats on the podium. Shaun is in sixth and now it depends on the start. It is very possible that we can get three boats in the top three positions after the second buoy.

“Marit has done an incredible job. I am very happy for this girl. She has been unbelievable now and done a very good job at the last two races. It is fantastic because the level of the World Championship is very high.”

Three-time World Champion Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team failed to make it through Q1 and will start the race from 13th place. “We had a problem since India, no power, a problem with the engine,” said the Frenchman.

The Victory Team’s Ahmed Al-Hameli barrel-rolled out of Q2 after a high-speed coming together with Chiappe’s team-mate Peter Morin and emergency unscathed from the impact.

Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi finished fifth in the first of the weekend’s two F4 Trophy races and now trails Germany’s Max Stilz by three points in the title race with as many races remaining. Frenchman Tom Chiappe eased to a comfortable victory over England’s Sam Whittle and their performances have lifted them into close contention for a late push for the title.

BRM Qualifying

With Sutthipan Sookbuangbon stranded in Bangkok with a visa issue, only 18 drivers lined up at the start of the 20 minutes of Q1 and six would be eliminated. Francesco Cantando posted the first sub 46-second lap before Morin hit the top with a 45.70sec tour and Stark went even quicker with a 45.61. Torrente slotted into second with a 45.65 and the Team Abu Dhabi pair all but secured their places in Q2.

Andersson stormed into the top three with a lap of 45.57sec, as Stark went on to win the session with a 45.21sec lap from Andersson and Torrente. Cédric Deguisne, Simone Shuft, Filip Roms, Duarte Benavente, Grant Trask failed to make Q2 and a last gap lap by Bartek Marszalek pushed Chiappe out of the running.

It was critical that drivers were inside the top six during Q2 and Al-Qemzi started well to clock the target lap of 44.86sec. The session was yellow-flagged after a spectacular collision between Ahmed Al-Hameli and Peter Morin, with the Emirati Victory Team driver holding fourth place at the time of the crash. Morin pitted for potential repairs while the yellow flag remained in situ with his fifth place and a position in Q3 all but ruined.

Eighth-placed Torrente was relying on a restart before the clock ran out and race officials extended the session by five minutes. Action restarted with just three minutes 45 seconds remaining. Carella moved into the top six and Torrente clocked a 45.36sec lap to move into fourth place, displacing Carella in the process. Edin stomed into Q3 in the dying seconds as well and pushed Al-Hameli and Morin’s stricken boats out of the running. Marszalek, Cantando, Carella, Sami Selio, Al-Hameli and Morin failed to reach the six-boat Q3 shoot-out after Strømøy sneaked in at the death with another stunning lap.

Torrente was the first out in Q3 and opened up with a 44.31sec run and improved with a 44.13 to set a very beatable target. Andersson was next on the water and the Swede aborted his opening run in a bid for a fifth career pole and settled with a second tour of 43.88sec. Twenty-eight-year old Edin had to rely on his second lap and the Swede clocked a time of 43.94sec to push Torrente further down the starting order.

Al-Qemzi soaked up the local support and was next on the course. The Emirati stormed to the top of the leader board with stunning laps of 43.33sec and 43.25sec to claim provisional pole. Strømøy ran Torrente close to pole in India in November and the Norwegian opened her account with a tour of 43.71sec and stormed to pole with a 43.18sec stunner, much to the delight of the pit area.

All eyes were on Stark and the third Team Abu Dhabi driver opened with a 43.63sec lap to slot into third. The Swede then claimed pole with a 42.81sec flyer to shatter Strømøy’s dream.
Free Practice

A thrilling duel developed between Stark and Torrente in the latter stages of an uninterrupted free practice session with both Team Abu Dhabi drivers teetering on the edge of disaster on a windy straight in front of the main grandstand to set the fastest times. Stark twice looked as though he had overcooked it, but the Swede topped the times with a run of 43.94sec and that was enough to beat his championship rival by 0.17 seconds.

Strømøy was never going to make it easy for the host team and the Norwegian impressed with the third fastest time of 44.58sec. Morin and Al-Hameli were fourth and fifth. Al-Qemzi topped the times early in the session in the third Team Abu Dhabi boat and finished in eighth behind Selio and Carella.

F4 Trophy – race 1

Technical issues dictated that the F4 runners missed out on their initial practice session on Friday morning and 11 drivers headed straight into the qualifying session for race one. The session was yellow flagged when Camille Broutechoux flipped her Maverick Moore on the straight in front of the grandstand in gusting windy conditions.

Action resumed with a little over three minutes remaining, but Frenchman Tom Chiappe followed up his extra free practice session win on Thursday afternoon to claim pole position with a run of 1min 03.89sec. Victory Team’s Ahmed Al-Fahim was second and Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi qualified in third place, 0.80 seconds behind the leader. Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Remeithi was classified in 11th place.

Chiappe made a good start to lead from the pontoon, but the green flag was an unmitigated disaster for the Victory Team and both Ahmed Al-Fahim and Ali Allanawi ground to a halt at the start and drifted helplessly. The main beneficiary was England’s Sam Whittle and he passed Al-Mehairbi and settled into second place, ahead of Hungarian Rudolf Mihaldinecz. Al-Mehairbi and Al-Remeithi were sixth and eighth and Al-Mehairbi’s title rival Max Stilz held fifth, as Al-Fahim eventually got going nearly four laps down.

Chiappe continued to lead through 10 of the 20 laps, but Mihaldinecz had hit trouble and slipped out of the running after seven tours and promoted Alexander Lindholm to third and Stilz and Al-Mehairbi to fourth and fifth.

The leading Frenchman edged further away from his rivals as the race progressed and crossed the finish line 16.25 seconds ahead of Whittle, as both drivers closed the gap on Stilz and Al-Mehairbi at the top of the rankings. Al-Mehairbi reached the finish in fifth and Al-Remeithi was seventh. Al-Fahim’s persistence after the start fiasco gave him points for eighth place.

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.

Spectators are welcome to attend at the Abu Dhabi Corniche free of charge on Saturday. The ADIMSC has laid on trade stalls, refreshments and catering stands, childrens’ and family activities and live entertainment to entertain the crowds between the races.

2018 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi – BRM Qualifying times

1. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Abu Dhabi 42.81sec
2. Marit Strømøy (NOR) Emirates Racing Team 43.18sec
3. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 43.25sec
4. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Amaravati 43.88sec
5. Erik Edin (SWE) Team Amaravati 43.94sec
6. Shaun Torrente (USA) Team Abu Dhabi 44.13sec
7. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team 45.51sec
8. Peter Morin (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 45.65sec
9. Alex Carella (ITA) Victory Team 45.75sec
10. Bartek Marszalak (POL) Emirates Racing Team 45.98sec
11. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 46.05sec
12. Francesco Cantando (ITA) Blaze F1 Team 46.06sec
13. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Tea 46.26sec
14. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team 46.95sec
15. Filip Roms (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 47.55sec
16. Grant Trask (AUS) F1 Atlantic Team 48.20sec
17. Cédric Deguisne (FRA) Maverick F1 Team 48.22sec
18. Simone Schuft (DEU) Blaze F1 Team 52.32sec
Sutthipan Sookbuangbon (THI) Maverick F1 Team DNS

2018 UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Championship – standings after round 6:
1. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Abu Dhabi 87pts
2. Shaun Torrente (USA) Team Abu Dhabi 65pts
3. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 57pts
4. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 42pts
5. Marit Strømøy (NOR) Emirates Racing Team 35pts
6. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Amaravati 28pts
7. Alex Carella (ITA) Victory Team 24pts
8. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team 21pts
9. Erik Edin (SWE) Team Sweden/Team Amaravati 14pts
9. Peter Morin (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 14pts
11. Bartek Marszalak (POL) Emirates Racing Team 12pts
12. Francesco Cantando (ITA) Blaze F1 Team 9pts

2018 F4 Trophy – positions after race 9:
1. Max Stilz (DEU) Blaze Performance 96pts
2. Mohammed Al-Mehairbi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 93pts
3. Sam Whittle (GBR) F1 Atlantic Team 85pts
4. Tom Chiappe (FRA) Emirates Racing Team 85pts
5. Ahmed Al-Fahim (UAE) Victory Team 66pts
6. Wu Bingchen (CHN) CTIC F1 China Team 45pts
7. Alexander Lindholm (FIN) Team Amaravati 41pts
8. Pedro Fortuna (PRT) Team Sweden 35pts
9. Ben Jelf (GBR) Team Amaravati 27pts
10. Rudolf Mihaldinecz (HUN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 22pts
11. Xavier Autard (FRA) Maverick Racing 21pts
12. Quentin Dailly (FRA) Maverick Racing 17pts
13. Camille Broutechoux (FRA) Maverick Racing 8pts
14. Joris Colleret (FRA) Maverick Racing 7pts
15. Louise Vella (AUS) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 5pts
16. Rashed Al-Remeithi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 4pts
17. Ian Gonsalves (GUY) Maverick Racing 3pts

Timetable of events
Saturday, December 8

09.10-09.30 F4 free practice
09.40-10.00 F4 time trials
10.15-11.15 F1 free practice
14.00 F4 race 2
15.30 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi


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: 07/12/2018

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