Abu Dhabi, 1 December, 2015: Team Abu Dhabi are currently enjoying their most successful season to date, but Thani Al-Qamzi or Alex Carella must produce a win on home waters next week if one of them is to have any chance of bringing a second world title to the UAE capital.
Heading into the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi, penultimate round of the 2015 UIM F1 H2O World Championship on Friday week (11 December), Al-Qamzi and Carella are two of seven drivers who can mathematically still snatch the F1 crown, with the final round to follow in Sharjah a week later.
The Emirati and his Italian team-mate have been testing in earnest at Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) in recent weeks to give themselves the best chance of securing a win, although a home success for either may still not be enough.
Nevertheless, Al-Qamzi and Carella are highly motivated and eager to build on the recent achievements of Class 1 stars John Tomlinson and Gary Ballough, who secured Team Abu Dhabi’s first ever world title last month, and Rashed Al-Tayer and Faleh Al-Mansoori, who last weekend finished runners up in their first season in the UIM XCAT World Series The F1 series was reduced from eight to six rounds with the cancellation of races in Shanghai and Pattaya, and in the last race run in early October, Al-Qamzi maintained his composure to seal a stunning second position on China’s Lui River. As a result, he heads into the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi lying sixth in the championship standings, a point ahead of Carella but 35 shy of the series leader and defending champion, Philippe Chiappe, who won in Abu Dhabi last year. The Frenchman’s clinical win in China sees him arrive in the UAE with a 16-point advantage over the Victory Team’s Shaun Torrente, with 40 pts available for winning the last two rounds.
Kuwait’s Youssef Al-Rubayan is third, a further three points behind. With 20 points on offer to the race winner in Abu Dhabi, another success for Chiappe would give him a second world title, regardless of what happens behind him on the Abu Dhabi course that has hosted a round of the F1 series more times than any other venue in history since 1993.
“We carried out a good test before the XCAT racing with Alex (Carella) and Thani (Al-Qamzi) at different times at ADIMSC and the plan was more testing in the build up to this race,” said Team Abu Dhabi’s racing manager and nine-time former World Champion Guido Cappellini.
“We are very happy with the performances. Thani has really come on to another level. The target is obviously the outright win. We must do that, but there will be 19 or 20 other drivers pushing for the same goal. Realistically, we know we need to win in Abu Dhabi to give ourselves a chance of the title in Sharjah.”
Carella is focused and determined to give himself a chance of snatching a fourth world title in five years on his 33rd Grand Prix outing. “The testing has been fantastic,” said the Italian, who has three previous wins to his name in Abu Dhabi.
“We have found a little extra and that should help us be even more competitive. China was normally a lucky place for me to go and score points, but the non-finish was a bitter setback especially after we lost the points in France. I know that it’s a must win race here and what better place to do it than at home in front of our fans.”
Rashed Al-Qemzi and Mohammed Al-Mehairbi impressed for Team Abu Dhabi in the UIM F-4S Trophy races in China. Al-Qemzi, in particular, was in fine form, although two pole positions were marred by a crash in race one and a one-lap penalty in the second race that deprived him of a first ever victory.
That set-back has given Germany’s Mike Szymura the perfect opportunity to wrap up the championship in Abu Dhabi. The F1 GC Atlantic Team driver heads to ADIMSC with a lead of 27 points after four race wins. Two podium finishes should be sufficient to clinch the title before the final race in Sharjah.
Team Abu Dhabi is supported by Etihad Airways as the official carrier and sponsor and runs under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Khalifa Al-Nahyan, advisor to the Head of State and chairman of the board of directors of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC).