Alex Carella (second right) holds his trophy with Khalid bin Arhama Al Kuwari and the Qatar Team members in Liuzhou, China, yesterday. Carella won the Grand Prix of China, a victory that took the Qatar-backed pilot to the top of the UIM F1 H20 World Championship points’ standings.
LIUZHOU, China: Qatar’s defending world champion Alex Carella climbed to the top of the UIM F1 H20 World Championship points standings after taking a start-to-finish victory in yesterday’s 19th Grand Prix of China on the Liu River in Liuzhou.
The Italian was pushed hard early on by his team-mate Shaun Torrente, but electrical gremlins cost the former series leader dearly and he slipped down the leader board before climbing back to sixth at the finish.
Finland’s Sami Selio finished second to tie Carella in the championship standings and Frenchman Phillipe Chiappe was third.
The Qatar Team leads the UIM Teams’ Championship by a staggering 25 points after three races.
“I had a really good pace and felt that I could stay with Alex but we had an electrical problem,” said a disappointed Torrente.
He added: “It seemed to dry out and I thought I could have got passed Jonas (Andersson) but it was not worth taking the risks. I need the points.”
Khalid bin Arhama Al Kuwari, who runs the operation under the umbrella of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) and the presidency of Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al Thani said: “I would like to congratulate my team on another fine all-round performance, which sees Alex lead the world championship and Qatar leading the teams’ championship.”
He added: “We were running one-two before and after the yellow flag and then Shaun had his electrical problem. These things can happen. That is racing. But he managed to finish and get some points. Now we go to Qatar in a good position and can look forward to trying to win the championship again in the Middle East.”
Germany’s Mike Szymura extended his lead in the UIM F-4S championship to 27 points with a narrow 2.05-second victory in the second of the weekend’s 20-minute races.
Qatar’s Khalid Abdullah Al Kuwari did not finish after engine issues, although he did take part in both the morning’s practice and qualifying sessions.
Carella and Torrente had pole positions at the start of the 38-lap race and reaching the turn buoy in front was crucial for the Qatar Team pair.
They managed to stay out in front until the yellow flag was raised on the second lap after an incident involving China’s Xiong Ziwei and drivers held station until racing resumed on lap six.
Carella stayed 2.33 seconds in front of Torrente through lap seven and the lead was virtually unchanged four laps later, although both Selio and Chiappe remained in close contention in third and fourth. Duarte Benavente and Francesco Cantando had already retired.
But Torrente hit electrical trouble before halfway, lost second position and slipped down the running, as Selio took up the challenge to Qatar’s defending world champion.
The Finn trailed Carella by just four seconds after 19 laps, although Torrente recovered to maintain seventh place in the running order.
The championship leader was now on a charge after his earlier problems and he passed Yousef Al Rubayan to claim sixth.
Carella retained a 3.09-second overall lead over Selio after lap 26 of 38.
Torrente began to close in on both Jonas Andersson and Thani Al Qamzi in his quest to climb back to fourth behind Carella, Selio and Chiappe. With seven laps to run, Carella’s lead was trimmed to just 1.6 seconds and Torrente was finding it difficult to pass Andersson and snatch fifth position.
Carella managed to hold on and reached the chequered flag for his first win of the season and a joint lead in the championship.
Selio was second and Chiappe crossed the line in third.
Torrente could not find a way to overtake either Al Qamzi or Andersson and finished sixth.
The Qatar Team duo ran for 27 and 11 laps in yesterday morning’s second free practice session and carded the third and fifth quickest times. The morning belonged to Selio; his fastest lap of 46.22 seconds was sufficient to beat Chiappe by 0.24 seconds to win the session. THE PENINSULA