At the F1H20 World Championship’s Grand Prix of China, in a reversal following a protest by the Qatar Team, the UIM officials returned pole position to defending World Championship driver Alex Carella who was first thought to have gone out of his racing line on his second hot lap for pole in the Q3 session.
The Italian, who sits third in the championship with 39 points, originally had his second lap time erased giving the two time World Champion Sami Selio what he thought was his second straight pole in the last two races of the season with a lap of 44.71 seconds and a speed of 174.73kph. Selio will now start second to Carella tomorrow.
'I'm very happy of the reverse decision made by the officials,' said Carella. 'I know looking at the video as they did later as well that I didn't participate in any dangerous driving, just that my line out of the final turn was different than my first and I went faster to earn the number one position tomorrow. I'll sleep better tonight.'
Meanwhile, the Finnish driver was a bit down but more resolute than ever about fighting tomorrow for his second straight victory sitting second in the championship with 41 points on the season.
'I may have lost pole but I am still really excited about starting up front tomorrow,' said Selio. 'I was thinking about what had happened to me here a year ago and the crash I had that ended my season as I was getting ready to push for my hot lap.
Obviously it's great having to start in the top two of the field and have everyone chasing me. We'll see if I can win again here tomorrow afternoon when it's all over.'
Meanwhile starting in third position on the grid will be Team Abu Dhabi driver Thani Al Qamzi who will start third tomorrow here in Liuzhou with a time of 44.85.
'I won a year ago from second and I truly feel I can do it again this time from third as well,' stated Thani. 'I'll do my best to get this result for my buddy and teammate Ahmed (Al Hameli) who is a half a world away in the hospital in the United States hopefully I can make him feel a little better in the end of the day tomorrow.'
Fourth will be CTIC China Team pilot Philippe Chiappe of France taking a fourth place with a 45.40 second lap and 172.07kph speed around the 2.07 kilometer circuit on the Liu River hoping for another podium in his teams 'home' race.
Fifth was a very disappointed American Shaun Torrente of Team Qatar who's fifth was his lowest qualifying effort of the season. The Miami, Florida driver who is looking for his first podium performance stated he just didn't do a very good job on his two tours finishing with a 45.58 second run on his first of two laps.
Taking sixth quickest is fast rising rookie Youssef Al Rubayan of Kuwait driving for the F1 Atlantic Team who is looking more and more comfortable in his new DAC boat doing a best lap of 45.73 just 1.02 seconds behind Selio on pole.
Marit Stromoy of Team Nautica was seventh in her best qualifying effort of the year with a 45.79, while Italian Francesco Cantando of the Singha Team was eighth with a 45.81 second lap looking for his second win in his seventeenth start in China since 1996.
Replacing Ahmed Al Hameli in the number six boat on Team Abu Dhabi was Majed Al Mansoori coming back to F1 for the first time since 2007. He has recently been spending most of his efforts throttling for Team Abu Dhabi in Class One offshore. Majed did a well-earned 46.44 second lap finishing ninth quickest.
Rounding out the top ten was Sweden's Jonas Andersson of Team Sweden as the 2009 winner of this race managed a 46.56 second lap and a speed of 167.78kph in his new Molgaard boat.
Nineteen drivers from 13 different countries will line-up along the start pontoon in an expected crowd in the tens of thousands for tomorrow's 18th Grand Prix of China in Liuzhou. The fourth race on the calendar will mark the start of the second half of the season with 60 points still up for grabs with five drivers still realistically in a fight for the title.
The UIM F1 H2O World Championship Grand Prix from Liuzhou will start at 15:00 local, (07:00 GMT) and 03:00 Eastern Daylight Time on the East Coast of North America. F1H20 website