Team Qatar’s Carella retains his crown at Tatarstan GP
MIR BASIT HUSSAIN
DOHA DEFENDING champion of UIM F1 H20 Alex Carella of Team Qatar successfully retained his title at the Grand Prix of the Republic of Tatarstan on Saturday. Dodging a fierce challenge from Team Abu Dhabi’s Ahmed al Hameli, Carella retained his crown with a professional performance. In a race full of yellow flags, Hameli secured the second spot.
Frenchman Phillipe Chiappe finished third in a race that ended under a third yellow flag and enabled Carella to move into joint second place in the championship, eight points behind Hameli.
Qatar’s pole position winner Shaun Torrente held his line through the opening turns to hold the outright lead after lap one, but the Qatar Team driver was forced out with a blown engine on the second lap.
Khalid Abdullah al Kuwari qualified in seventh for the second of the F-4S Eurofin Trophy races and finished in a similar position in a contest where England’s Matthew Palfreyman overtook Sweden’s Jesper Forss to clinch his fourth successive race win this season and a 20-point lead in the title race.
“This was a good result for the Qatar team, although it would have been nice to take a one-two finish,” said Khalid bin Arhama al Kuwari, head of formula racing at the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF), which runs under the presidency of His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor al Thani.
“Mechanical problems can happen to any boats anywhere and anytime. It’s just a shame it happened here to Shaun.
Now we can look ahead to the next race and hope to continue where we left off here and get as many points as we can to make sure that the Qatar Team regains the title.” Seventeen drivers from 11 countries took the start of the 40-lap race, with Torrente and Carella determined to maintain their qualifying advantage into the first turn buoy.
Bright and blustery conditions prevailed and Torrente made a perfect start in clear water to finish the first lap 1.48 seconds in front of Carella, with Al-Hameli in third and Cantando moving up to fourth.
But Torrente was forced to pull off the racecourse on lap two with engine failure and duly handed the lead to Carella from Al-Hameli, Chiappe and Al-Qamzi.
Carella completed lap four just 2.44 seconds in front of Al-Hameli and extended his lead to 3.16 seconds through nine laps.
A yellow flag was raised on lap 11 when Brett Stuart’s Caudwell Racing boat broke down and the delay enabled Al-Hameli to close in on Carella’s tail before the restart.
The race restarted on lap 14 and Carella managed to maintain a 2.08 second lead.
He extended that advantage to 3.78 seconds through lap 15. By the halfway point, after lap 20, the World Champion’s lead had risen to 5.52 seconds, as Ivan Brigada and Marit Stromoy fell by the wayside.
The race was yellowflagged again to remove Duarte Benavente’s and Brigada’s stricken boats from the race course and restarted on lap 29. Carella managed to hold off Al-Hameli challenge once again and finished the lap 1.16 seconds in front.
He extended that lead to 4.58 seconds through lap 32 and began to close in on a vital victory, only for the race to be yellow-flagged for a third time when Rinaldo Osculati dug in at speed and flipped his boat over.
There was no time to restart the race and the chequered flag was raised under a yellow flag situation, much to the delight of the Qatar Team.