Team Abu Dhabi's Alex Carella claims start-to-finish-victory in GP of France

Team Abu Dhabi's Alex Carella claims start-to-finish-victory in GP of France

02.07.2017: 2017 UIM F1 H2O WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 21st Grand Prix of France – June 30/July 2

2017 UIM F1 H2O WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
21st Grand Prix of France  – June 30/July 2





•  Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi finish sixth and 12th; Selio heads Carella by one point in title race


•  Team Abu Dhabi’s Carella and Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi qualify in pole, fourth and 13th

 


Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella claimed a stunning start-to-finish victory after dominating the 21st Grand Prix of France on Lac Leman on Sunday afternoon.
 


A second successive victory in France for the driver out of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) pushed him into title contention after the premature retirement of defending World Champion and series leader Philippe Chiappe threw the title race wide open. Carella also moved into the lead in the UIM F1 H20 Pole Position Trophy after his second successive pole position in Evian. 
 


Two-time World Champion Sami Selio finished second and holds a one-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship over Carella. Victory Team’s Shaun Torrente recovered well from a crash in qualifying to finish third, while Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi put their Portugal disappointments behind them to claim sixth and 12th places.
 


“This is why we go racing for days like this,” said a delighted Salem Al-Remeithi, general manager of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC). “We had a disappointing start to the year in Portugal, but the whole team has knuckled down and this victory for Alex is the reward for meticulous planning, attention to detail and hard work. Thani also had a strong performance and it was great experience for Rashed.”
 


The Emirati trio qualified for the 45-lap race from pole position, fourth and 13th after BRM Qualifying was switched to Sunday morning following the inclement weather on Lac Leman on Saturday. A one-hour official practice session was also arranged for the morning and qualifying followed 30 minutes later. Race officials were able to restore the original timetable for the afternoon’s race.
 


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 auspices of the ADIMSC and board member and general manager Salem Al-Remeithi and team manager Guido Cappellini.
 




GP of France

 

The three Team Abu Dhabi boats lined up for the race in pole, fourth and 13th, with defending World Champion Chiappe breathing down Carella’s neck in second. Carella made a superb start and managed to fend off Chiappe to maintain the lead. Thani Al-Qemzi held fourth place but Rashed slipped to 15th.




Carella continued to edge away from the World Champion and was 6.44 seconds ahead through lap four. Chiappe, Selio and Thani Al-Qemzi retained second, third and fourth places, but Rashed slipped further to 17th. Torrente moved up from 15th to ninth.
 


By lap 10, Carellla had increased his lead to 8.88 seconds, but the top six held station until lap 11 when Grant Trask flipped out of fifth place. The yellow-flag incident bunched the pack together again and action resumed on lap 16.




Carella retained his advantage. but Selio managed to pass Chiappe and snatch second place. Torrente stormed through into third at Chiappe’s expense. Thani Al-Qemzi slipped to sixth and Rashed Al-Qemzi climbed to 16th.
 


Dramatically, Chiappe slowed down and withdrew with technical issues from his third successive Grand Prix of France. His demise threw the title race wide open, as Carella led Selio by 4.35 seconds through lap 19. By the halfway point, Carella, even with a flapping canopy, led Selio by 4.63 seconds from Torrente, Al-Hameli, Andersson and Thani Al-Qemzi. Rashed Al-Qemzi climbed back to 14th.
 


Selio continued to pressurise Carella through 28 laps. The margin was down to 2.58 seconds heading into the closing stages. Torrente continued to close on Selio from Al-Hameli, Andersson and Al-Qemzi, as Mike Szymura withdrew with mechanical issues and Rashed Al-Qemzi climbed to 13th.


 
Carella set the fastest lap of the race of 50.39sec and extended his lead over Selio to 4.27 seconds with eight laps remaining, but Selio was even quicker on the next lap as the battle waged into the final laps. The Team Abu Dhabi driver managed to hold on to claim a vital win, as Selio and Torrente earned points for second and third and Thani Al-Qemzi finished sixth.
 



BRM Qualifying

 

Twenty boats and drivers from 11 nations lined up at the start of the single session qualifying stint in perfect racing conditions on the 2.1km, six-pin course. Grant Trask was the first driver to break the 50-second barrier with a 49.92sec opener, as many of the front-runners sat out the opening minutes of the one-hour session.



Carella stormed to the front after nine minutes with a time of 48.98sec and that time held sway until the session was yellow-flagged when Shaun Torrente flipped his Victory Team boat on a wave on the back straight. Thani Al-Qemzi had moved into the top four with a 49.90sec lap.
 


Racing resumed once the Victory boat had been cleared from the course and Carella continued to lead from Chiappe, Selio, Thani Al-Qemzi, Trask and Ahmed Al-Hameli heading into the remaining 20 minutes. Rashed Al-Qemzi was classified in 10th.



 There were no changes heading into the final five minutes and Carella held on to give Team Abu Dhabi pole position. Rashed Al-Qemzi was pushed back to 13th place. “It was a very good job today for me,” said Carella. “I had a clear lap. It was perfect.”
 


The three Team Abu Dhabi boats made a promising start to the day’s action and had been second, sixth and 13th quickest in the morning’s yellow-flag interrupted practice session. Chiappe set the fastest practice lap of 48.13sec at the end of the stint.
 






The UIM F1 H20 World Championship resumes with the Grand Prix of Harbin-China on August 11-13.
 





2017 Grand Prix of France - result



1. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                                    45 laps       
2. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing                                   @5.03sec
3. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team                                                     @9.19sec      
4. Ahmed Al-Hameli(UAE) Victory Team                                                     @26.59sec
5. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden                                               @32.55sec
6. Thani Al-Qamzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                    @34.61sec
7. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Sweden                                                               @37.15sec
8. Marit Stromoy (NOR) EMIC Racing Team                                     @39.19sec
9. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team                                     @47.53sec
10. Francesco Cantando (ITA) Blaze Performance Team                     L1
12. Rashed Al-Qamzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                                 L4
 



2017 UIM F1 World Championship – positions after round 2:



1. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing                                   30pts               
2. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                                    29pts
3. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team                        20pts    
4. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team                                     14pts
5. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team                                                     12pts
6. Ahmed Al-Hameli(UAE) Victory Team                                                     9pts
7. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden                                               7pts
7. Bartek Marszalak (POL) Blaze Performance Team                     7pts
7. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Sweden                                                               7pts
10. Thani Al-Qamzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                    5pts
10. Cédric Deguisne (FRA) Maverick F1                                                        5pts
 



2017 Grand Prix of France – BRM Qualifying result


1. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                                    48.98sec
2. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team                        49.78sec             
3. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing                                   49.89sec        
4. Thani Al-Qamzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                    49.90sec
5. Grant Trask (AUS) F1 Atlantic Team                                                    49.92sec             
6. Ahmed Al-Hameli(UAE) Victory Team                                                     49.96sec
13. Rashed Al-Qamzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                                 51.64sec        
 



2017 UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Trophy – positions after round 2



1. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                                           27pts
2. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team                        24pts    
3. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team                                                     20pts
3. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team                                                                20pts
5. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing                                   12pts               
5. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Sweden                                                               12pts
7. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi                                    9pts
8. Grant Trask (AUS) F1 Atlantic Team                                                    7pts      
9. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team                                    5pts
 




Neil Perkins,  photos Vittorio Ubertone  and  Simon Palfrader

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02.07.2017 / MaP

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