Sharjah: Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella clinched his third pole position of the season as he came within one step of reclaiming his world crown from defending champion Philippe Chiappe at the Grand Prix of Sharjah — the final round in the 2017 UIM F1H2O World Championship — on Thursday.
The 32-year-old Italian driver from Team Abu Dhabi will start Friday’s final race of the season in pole position after he powered his boat to an amazingly quick lap of 45.01 seconds on his second and final lap of the third qualifying session to earn a shot at a fourth world championship crown.
Making his 51st career start, Carella is currently eleven points clear of Chiappe, the three-time defending world champion from the CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team. While Carella comes into the Sharjah race with a tally of 70 points at the top, Chiappe desperately needs all 20 points from a win and a hope that his title challenger finishes outside third place in Friday’s finale. Team Sweden’s Erik Stark is in third with 49 points.
Team Abu Dhabi are within striking distance of a rare double with Carella, after Rashid Al Qamzi had already pocketed the UIM Formula 2 world crown earlier this year.
“This is what we had thought about all through this weekend. I have played this scene over and over again and here we are in control of the start,” Carella told Gulf News.
“Now it is left up to us to dictate from the front and get the necessary points for a fourth world title. But even more important will be the teams’ championship title for Team Abu Dhabi,” he added.
Going into the third and final phase of qualifying, Victory Team’s Ahmad Al Hameli had thrown all caution to the winds while powering to a quick 45.87 seconds. But as the double-lap qualifying continued, Al Hameli was pushed down into fourth as Team Sweden’s Erik Stark — fresh from his experience on the UIM XCAT World Championship — slid into second leaving Bartek Marszalek for third position.
Chiappe went in gamely to challenge the best time, but found himself ending with a best lap of 46.13, more than one second off the top pace set by Carella.
Earlier, missing out on a chance to contest for the BRM Qualifying at the end of Q1 was former two-time Sharjah Champion and former two-time world champion Sami Selio as he was pipped at the very end by Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al Qamzi. Leading the pack of top-12 at the end of the first qualifying was Victory Team’s Torrente with a blistering fast time of 48.06 seconds followed by Felip Roms and the second Victory Team driver Ahmad Al Hameli within two hundredths of a second of each other.
“It was entirely my mistake as I picked up a propeller. I thought it was rougher than it actually looked. Now it’s up to me to make up on race day,” Selio said.
Pole positions standings at the end of the BRM Qualifying held on Khalid Lagoon, Sharjah on Thursday: 1. Alex Carella (45.01 secs); 2. Erik Stark (+0.26); 3. Bartek Marszalek (+0.74); 4. Ahmad Al Hameli (+0.86); 5. Philippe Chiappe (+1.12); 6. Jonas Andersson (+1.14); 7. Marit Stromoy; 8. Felip Roms; 9. Shaun Torrente; 10. Morin; 11. Rashid Al Qamzi; 12. Thani Al Qamzi.