A delighted Al-Hameli last won a round of the series in Doha Bay in 2012, but the Emirati delivered a superb performance from pole position on the Liu River course to fend off a superb challenge from double World Champion and series leader Philippe Chiappe to record his stunning win.
When the lights went out, Al-Hameli held his line from Chiappe, but Selio managed to sneak passed Carella into third. Al-Qamzi climbed to seventh place and Andersson surged into 11th and then overtook Francesco Cantando to snatch 10th position.
By lap five, Al-Hameli led Chiappe by 2.99 seconds, as Selio, Carella and Torrente trailed in their wake and Andersson overtook Duarte Benavente to snatch ninth. The leading group held station through 10 laps, although Poland’s Bartak Marszalak became the first retirement of the 18 entrants on the seventh lap and Andersson could find no way to overtake Marit Stromoy and take eighth. But the Swede managed to pass the Norwegian and snatch eighth on lap 16 when Stromoy ground to a halt with technical issues.
At two-thirds distance, after lap 20, Al-Hameli’s lead over Chiappe was around three seconds, but Carella had hit technical trouble on lap 17 and plummeted down the field.
Salem Al-Romaithi, assistant general manager of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) said after the race;
‘It was a disappointing weekend for Alex in his bid for the world title and we have work to do at the last two rounds to make up the lost ground on our rivals’.
His demise lifted Torrente into fourth, Stark to fifth and Al-Qamzi into sixth place, although Carella stayed out on the course for a handful of extra laps and continued to drop time to his rivals with trim issues on his DAC.
With 10 laps to run, Torrente continued to apply the pressure on Selio for third position, as Al-Hameli led from Chiappe by 3.16 seconds and Al-Qamzi retained sixth.
The Emirates Racing Team driver maintained his impressive pace to fend off a charging Chiappe to the chequered flag and confirm a memorable victory by 6.37 seconds, as Chiappe slowed at the end and picked up 15 valuable championship points for second place and Selio and Torrente retained in title contention with third and fourth positions.
The UIM F1 H2O racing calendar now shifts attention to the remaining two races of the year in the Middle East in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in December.
2016 Grand Prix of Liuzhou – Result
1. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Emirates Racing Team – 50 laps
2. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team – @6.37sec
3. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing – @12.68sec
4. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team – @17.37sec
5. Erik Stark (SWE) Emirates Racing Team – @32.90sec
6. Thani Al-Qamzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi – L1
7. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden – L1
8. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team – L1
9. Mike Szymura (DEU) EMIC Racing Team – L2
10. Filip Roms (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing – L2
2016 UIM F1H2O World Championship – Drivers’ Championship standings
1. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team – 67 pts
2. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team – 54 pts
3. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing – 47 pts
4. Alex Carella (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi – 42 pts
5. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden – 37 pts
6. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Emirates Racing Team – 25 pts
7. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team – 19 pts
7. Erik Stark (SWE) Emirates Racing Team – 19 pts
9. Filip Roms (FIN) Mad Croc Baba Racing – 18 pts