Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella, Thani Al-Qamzi and rookie Rashed Al-Qamzi qualified in seventh, 11th and 16th positions, as the outcome of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship goes down to the wire between Frenchman Philippe Chiappe and American Shaun Torrente in Friday afternoon’s Grand Prix of Sharjah on Khaled Lagoon.
Thursday afternoon’s BRM Qualifying session was a crucial affair, not only for the Team Abu Dhabi trio, but also for the two title protagonists.
Chiappe managed to stay ahead of Torrente to claim second position in the third session of BRM Qualifying, but recent Abu Dhabi race winner Jonas Andersson carded a lap of 44.33sec before barrel-rolling his boat nose down into Khaled Lagoon.
Assuming Team Sweden can repair the damage without replacing the engine, Andersson will start the race from pole position – the Swede’s second such feat in just seven days.
What to say?
I made a mistake.
I thought I had a little more to give so I wanted to push harder, but it was a little too much.
Now I have to really check the boat, it doesn’t look too bad but there are some cracks and I have to check the fuel tank is still intact.
We will see.
The fact that Carella missed out on the Q3 session also meant that the Italian was deprived of the 2016 UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Championship title, with the honour falling to Chiappe.
Team Abu Dhabi made the last minute decision to let their recently-crowned UIM F4-S champion Rashed Al-Qamzi make his F1 H2O racing debut in a Molgaard alongside the DACs of Alex Carella and his cousin Thani Al-Qamzi.
The youngster ran well and beat four of his more established rivals to qualify in 16th place.
Rashed Al-Qamzi said,
It was a fantastic experience for me to make my debut in the F1 boat and I am grateful that the team put faith in me this week.
Split into the traditional three qualifying sessions, eight of the 20 entrants would be eliminated in Q1 and a further six in Q2 before the final six-boat shoot-out to determine pole position.
Sami Selio down the gauntlet with an early lap of 46.92sec to hit the top of the standings, although his time was soon surpassed by Shaun Torrente in a time of 46.66 seconds.
Thani Al-Qamzi admitted he liked the course before the start of qualifying and a potent lap of 47.92 seconds catapulted the Emirati into the early top six.
With seven minutes of the session remaining, Alex Carella recorded a lap of 46.83sec to snatch second place behind Torrente.
Both Carella and Thani Al-Qamzi made it into Q2, but Rashed Al-Qamzi’s first qualifying session ended with a best lap of 48.31sec and 16th place.
Christophe Larigot, Mike Szymura, Francesco Cantando, Jesper Forss, Marit Stromoy, Ziwei Xiong and Duarte Benavente were also eliminated.
Q2 ran for 15 minutes to reduce the field to just six boats. Carella stormed to the top of the leader board with a 46.42sec lap and that was surpassed by Selio’s time of 45.99sec.
Ahmed Al-Hameli and Chiappe also moved in front of the Italian. Chiappe hit the front with a flying lap of 45.54sec with nine minutes remaining and Torrente followed him to the front with a tour of 45.86sec.
Poland’s Bartek Marszalak was in impressive form to tie Torrente’s time.
Carella was pushed down to eighth with a couple of minutes of the session remaining, but the Italian was not able to respond in time and he missed out on Q3, as Thani Al-Qamzi, Nadir Bin Hendi, Grant Trask, Filip Roms and Ahmed Al-Hameli also missed out on Q3.
Erik Stark was the first on to the water in Q3, but he made a mistake on his first run and set the target time of 45.11sec with his flying second lap. Fellow Swede Andersson was next on to the water and he shattered Stark’s time with an opening 44.33sec, but he tried to beat that on his second lap and flipped his boat spectacularly through the air, nose-diving into the water.
Marszalek reached Q3 for the first time in his career, carded a cautious opener of 46.45sec and rounded off his challenge with a second lap of 46.00sec. Torrente needed pole to stand any chance of claiming the world title and the Victory Team driver opened with a lap of 45.05sec and then improved with a tour of 45.01sec.
Selio, a two-time World Champion, opened his account with a lap of 45.60sec and was unable to improve on his second lap, leaving the door open for Chiappe to challenge for pole.
The Frenchman carded an opener of 44.92sec to move into second place, but was unable to snatch pole from Andersson on his final lap.