|Carella And Al-Shamlan Qualify In Second And Seventh For Grand Prix Of Qatar|
|Friday, 09 March 2012 20:57|
DOHA (Qatar): A new season of UIM F1 H20 World Championship racing got underway in earnest in Doha Bay on Friday with the first practice sessions and qualifying for Saturday’s 10th Grand Prix of Qatar.
Qatar’s Alex Carella and a flying F1 rookie Khaled Saleh Al-Shamlan qualified for the season’s opening race in second and seventh positions, although Carella had held provisional pole until the dying seconds of the shoot-out when he was pipped to top spot by Team Abu Dhabi’s Ahmed Al-Hameli.
A yellow flag situation did not help Torrente’s cause and technical problems meant he was unable to set a competitive qualifying time. He will start Saturday’s race from the back of the field in 19th position.
“I am quite happy for Alex and Khaled on their positions in second and seventh,” said Khalid bin Arhama Al-Kuwari, head of formula racing at the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF), which runs under the patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani.
“Shaun had problems, but I know he will bounce back. This is only the first day of the season. Maybe Alex could have taken pole position, but we didn’t really have chance to test the propellers this morning, so I am quite happy under the circumstances. To be honest, I would like to see the right-hander back on the course.”
“Alex and I are determined to win the World Championship back for Qatar,” enthused Torrente, last year’s rookie of the year. “We have had a good chat together, get on great and I couldn’t wait to get started today.”
Khalid Abdullah Al-Kuwari qualified in eighth for the first of the season’s UIM F-4S races in his Mercury-engined Baba and sealed a similar position for the Qatar Team after running as high as sixth. Defending F-4S champion Matthew Palfreyman led from start-to-finish to record the first win of the season by the margin of 1.82s from Sweden’s Jesper Forss.
Qualifying and practice
Three qualifying sessions were planned to determine the starting order for Saturday’s 10th Grand Prix of Qatar. Eighteen of the 20 boats took to the water, with three set to be eliminated in the first of two qualifying sessions and then the remaining 10 fighting it out for Pole Position points in Q3 after a further five had been removed.
The first session was yellow-flagged when South Africa’s Brett Stuart stopped on the course. None of the three Qatar drivers had been able to post a top time and the session headed into the final 10 minutes with Carella, Torrente and Al-Shamlan holding sixth, 18th and 12th, respectively. Torrente was suffering from an engine problem and mechanics worked on the boat during the yellow-flag delay.
Carella eventually finished Q1 in sixth and Al-Shamlan leapt into 15th position as the chequered flag brought Q1 to a close. Torrente ran out of time in his bid to set a top time and did not make the 15-minute Q2 session.
Carella and Al-Shamlan moved into the 15 minutes of Q2 and Carella quickly moved into second behind Ahmed Al-Hameli. Jonas Andersson ground to a halt with a little over 10 minutes to go and Finland’s Sami Selio displaced Carella to take second.
Carella and Al-Shamlan finished the Q2 session in fourth and 10th and both drivers progressed to the 10-boat Q3 shoot-out, with each driver having two laps each to try and take Pole Position. Al-Shamlan managed to fend off a late challenge from Norway’s Marit Stromoy to seal the final Q3 spot.
Al-Shamlan was the first driver on to the water in the 10-boat shoot-out and he set the target time of 47.96s. The subsequent three drivers were unable to match the F1 rookie’s time, but Thani Al-Qamzi beat the target with a 45.70s lap and Kuwait’s Yousef Al-Rubayan also moved in front of Al-Shamlan.
Carella set a sensational first lap of 45.02s and decided not to take a second lap, as he secured provisional pole. Selio missed out on beating Carella by 0.04s, but Al-Hameli snatched pole with a stunning lap of 44.47s on his first lap of the course.
Frenchman Phillipe Chiappe was the surprise front-runner in the season’s first official free practice session. He ran for 29 laps to pip Ahmed Al-Hameli by one-hundredth of a second with a faster tour of 44.12s. Qatar’s Carella and Torrente were in close attendance in third and fourth for the Peters & May-backed team and Al-Shamlan was classified 16th of the 20 runners.
F-4S – race 1
Khalid Abdullah Al-Kuwari was not able to take advantage of a 20-minute practice session before his first qualifying stint of the UIM F-4S season, since replacing Khaled Saleh Al-Shamlan in the Qatar Team boat.
The Qatari ran for eight laps in the practice session and posted the eighth quickest time, in a stint that was won by the defending F-4S champion Matthew Palfreyman. Al-Kuwari was forced to start the opening 24-lap race from the rear of the field.
Palfreyman started the race well and stormed into a 1.73s lead, as Jesper Forss settled into second and Al-Kuwari climbed to sixth. By lap eight, Al-Kuwari had been passed by the Emirati Mohamed Al-Maharbi and he slipped to eighth soon afterwards.
With six laps remaining, Palfreyman continued to lead from Forss, but Al-Kuwari was unable to find a way back into contention and reached the chequered flag in eighth position, as Palfreyman got the defence of his title off to a winning start with a 1.82s win over Forss.
10th Grand Prix of Qatar – qualifying results
1. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 44.47s
2. Alex Carella (QAT) Qatar Team 45.02s
3. Sami Selio (FIN) Team Mad Croc F1 45.06s
4. Thani Al-Qamzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 45.70s
5. Yousef Al-Rabayan (KUW) F1 Atlantic Team 46.11s
6. Phillipe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC China Team 46.89s
7. Khaled Saleh Al-Shamlan (QAT) Qatar Team 47.96s
8. Stanislav Kourtsenovsky (RUS) CTIC China Team 48.36s
9. Duarte Benavente (POR) F1 Atlantic Team 48.53s
10. Phillipe Tourre (FRA) F1 Atlantic Team 1m 04.38s
19. Shaun Torrente (QAT) Qatar Team 1m 06.84s
2012 UIM F1 H20 Pole Position Championship – standings after round 1
1. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 20 pts
2. Alex Carella (QAT) Qatar Team 15 pts
3. Sami Selio (FIN) Team Mad Croc F1 12 pts
4. Thani Al-Qamzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 9 pts
5. Yousef Al-Rabayan (KUW) F1 Atlantic Team 7 pts
6. Phillipe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC China Team 5 pts
2012 UIM F-4S Championship – standings after race 1
1. Matthew Palfreyman (GBR) Atlantic Team 20 pts
2. Jesper Forss (SWE) Team Sweden 15 pts
3. Tobias Munthe-Kaas (NOR) Team Nautica 12 pts
4. Xiong Ziwei (CHN) CTIC China Team 9 pts
5. Kornel Vo (HUN) Team Mad Croc 7 pts
6. Mohamed Al-Maharbi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 5 pts
7. Valts Silis (LAT) Team Singha 4 pts
8. Khalid Abdullah Al-Kuwari (QAT) Qatar Team 3 pts
10th Grand Prix of Qatar - timetable
Saturday, March 10th
09.15-10.15 Free practice - F1
10.30-10.50 Free practice - F-4S
11.00-11.20 Timed trials - F-4S
13.30-13.50 Race 2 – F-4S
15.45-16.30 10th Grand Prix of Qatar - F1
For further information:
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases).