|Qatar Team’s Jay Price Takes Pole Position for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portugal|
|Sunday, 09 May 2010 02:11|
PORTIMAO (Portugal): The Qatar F1 Team’s Jay Price was in great shape to take Pole Position for Sunday’s opening round of the 2010 UIM F1 World Championship in Portugal. But the 2008 World Champion flipped his Mercury-engined DAC at high-speed after a yellow flag delay in the time trial for the Grand Prix of Portugal and will now start the race from the front of the grid provided that a team inspection of the damage to his DAC boat does not force staff to make an engine change overnight.
Qatar Team colleague Andy Elliott made the first cut for the opening FIA Formula One-style qualifying session, but slipped out of the top 10 in session two and will start the race from 12th place. The time trials for the 12th Grand Prix of Portugal were held in cool, damp and overcast conditions on the Arade River on Saturday afternoon and waves and a large swell made qualifying difficult.
“I suppose we had a day of highs and lows,” said Khalid Bin Arhama Al-Kuwari, Head of Formula Racing at the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF), which is run under the presidency of His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani. “Jay has the Pole Position at the moment and we will just have to hope that nothing serious is wrong with the engine when we take a look at it. The body has only minor damage, so the accident could have been worse.”
Following the decision by championship organisers to abolish the two-race per weekend format, the series reverted to a time trial and single race set-up, although a new qualification process was introduced for the first time.
Boats were permitted to run at any time during the first 20 minutes of the hour session. The fastest 15 of the 17 starters from 11 countries remained on the water and the remaining boats will fill the rear of the grid for Sunday’s race. After a seven-minute break, times were reset and all boats were permitted to run for a second 15-minute session. The five slowest boats then dropped out and filled places 11 to 15 on the grid.
After a further eight-minute break, times were again reset and a final 10-minute session featured a shoot-out between the remaining 10 boats to decide the pole position and the starting order for the first round of the series. No refuelling was permitted.
Team Abu Dhabi’s Ahmed Al-Hameli laid down the gauntlet with the fastest lap of 40.17s in deteriorating conditions, as Price slotted into second position before the tide started to go out and the wind strengthened. Elliott started cautiously in the Dragon boat and was not prepared to take any risks as he slotted into 14th position through the early laps.
By the end of the first session, Price was safely through into round two and Elliott squeezed through in 14th, with Norway’s Marit Stromoy being forced to sit out the session and Italy’s Marco Gambi also missing out on the second qualifying stint.
Price and Francesco Cantando were the first two drivers out on to the course for the second 15-minute session and the Qatar Team driver edged ahead in the early laps before slipping to second position before a yellow flag was raised. Al-Hameli remained in front of Price when action resumed after a loose buoy was secured. Alex Carella, Duarte Benevente, Sami Selio and Phillipe Chiappe completed the top six and a hard-pushing Elliott moved up to 11th position and began to challenge Jonas Andersson and Davide Padovan to secure the final place in the shoot-out session.
Selio moved in front of Al-Hameli and Price, but the Qatar Team driver was safely into the shoot-out, although Elliott and Germany’s Fabian Kalsow failed to make the final qualifying stint.
A good start was vital for Price in the final 10-minute session and he set a 46.86s lap in choppy race conditions and improved with a 42.25s lap. Cantando settled into second, a mere 0.01s behind the Qatar driver, when a yellow flag was raised to enable safety crews to secure a loose buoy.
Price flipped two occasions at speed after the restart and the incident forced the Qatar driver to sit out the remaining minutes of the session. An inspection of the DAC will now determine whether he is allowed to retain his Pole Position on Sunday. Cantando finished second and Team Abu Dhabi’s Ahmed Al-Hameli set the third fastest time.
Seventeen boats were registered for race weekend and Qatar’s Price struggled around the first lap of the demanding 1.8km, five-pin Arade River course in 56.96s and was unable to continue the session after an engine problem intervened. Francesco Cantando and Fabio Comparato set the early pace with tours of 40.20s and 42.17s during their first five and four lap stints of the new season, before Finland’s Sami Selio was the first driver in the field to lap under 40 seconds. At the session’s halfway point, neither Qatar’s Andy Elliott nor Frenchman Phillipe Chiappe had taken to the water.
By the end of the session, Price’s Qatar team mechanics had rectified the engine issue and the former World Champion returned to the water to record a further 17 race laps. A best time of 40.42s was sufficient for the Qatar Team driver to record the fourth fastest time of the session. Elliott managed to take to the water for one troubled lap in his Dragon boat. Team Abu Dhabi’s Ahmed Al-Hameli won the free practice session with a lap of 39.83s.
Tomorrow (Sunday) the 12th Grand Prix of Portugal gets underway at 14.00hrs (16.00hrs Qatar time), although teams will be allowed to carry out a further one hour of free practice on Sunday morning.
Grand Prix of Portugal – 3rd time trial shoot-out results for Pole Position