Abu Dhabi, UAE – Norway’s Marit Stromoy won the Grand Prix of Sharjah today for the first ever race victory by a woman driver in the history of the F1H20 World Championship, while Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella and Thani Al-Qamzi rounded off their first season together by clinching the world teams title.
Carella’s second place finish to Stromoy also ensured he claimed runner’s up spot in the drivers’ championship behind Frenchman Philippe Chiappe who took the crown in Abu Dhabi eight days earlier but went out on the 19th lap with mechanical problems today while leading.
Al-Qamzi also suffered a later retirement with mechanical issues, but the Emirati and Italian three-times world champion Carella brought the teams title to the UAE capital for the first time, topping the team standings by 17 points from CTIC China’s Chiappe and Ziwei Xiong.
“We had a nice race, but after five or six laps I had problems with propellers,” said Carella at the finish. “I almost broke two blades and had no speed on the straights. I tried my best to get close to Marit and pass her but she was fast and not letting me through.
“But I’m very pleased that we have won the teams championship, and that I’ve finished second in the drivers’ championship. I’m happy for all the team. To do this in our first season together is a big achievement.”
This was Team Abu Dhabi’s second world championship success of the season after Gary Ballough and John Tomlinson delivered the ever UIM Class 1 crown to Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club last month.
It means this season goes down as the most successful to date for the team, which runs under the patronage of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Advisor to the UAE President and the club’s chairman, and is sponsored by Etihad Airways, the official carrier, Marina Mall and Nirvana Travel & Tourism.
Engine issues cost Chiappe his early lead and the EMIC Team’s Stromoy took up the reins, holding off a fierce challenge from Carella to confirm her Grand Prix breakthough. The winning margin for the Norwegian was a mere 4.70 seconds after a stunning drive into the history books as she became the first woman ever to win a motor sport event at the highest level.
Chiappe had made the best start and passed pole-sitter Erik Stark to snatch the early lead from Stromoy, Carella, Stark, Torrente and Selio. Al-Qamzi slipped to eighth before moving back to seventh, as Chiappe gradually pulled away from the chasing pack.
But the current world champion’s demise promoted Carella to second, Al-Qamzi to sixth and, with Ziong having already fallen by the wayside, gifted the UIM teams’ title to Team Abu Dhabi with 25 of 43 laps remaining.
Stromoy maintained her composure through lap 25, although Carella was breathing down her neck in second and Stark was a close third. Andersson managed to pass Al-Qamzi on lap 30 to take sixth and the Emirati was then forced to withdraw from the race. Portugal’s Duarte Benavente also retired and his demise promoted Nadir Bin Hendi into the top 10.
The Norwegian held her nerve over the closing stages while Torrente passed Stark in the dying seconds to claim third place.
Earlier, Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi and Rashed Al-Qamzi rounded off their highly encouraging 2015 F-4S Trophy campaigns by finishing fourth and sixth respectively in the final race of the season, and the championship.
After his opening lap flip and eventual disqualification the previous day after he had finished in first place, Al-Mehairbi needed a good start in the final race of the season. But both he and Al-
Qemzi made poor starts and finished in fourth and sixth places as Finn Anton Nyholm won again from Germany’s new world champion, Mike Szymura.