At the Grand Prix of China in Liuzhou, defending World Champion Alex Carella of the Qatar Team held off a determined last year’s winner Thani Al Qamzi of Team Abu Dhabi to win his second race of the season and move into first place in the driver’s championship with a 6.86 second victory.
The fourth round of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship was hi-lighted by a pair of crashes and numerous re-start attempts followed by a two boat incident on lap 11 when Al Qamzi, Sami Selio and Shaun Torrente went three abreast into turn five fighting for second place on a race restart.
The Qatar Team driver, Torrente, who was on the extreme inside, ran out of room and hit Selio from the back sending them both cartwheeling out of the race ending all hopes of the Mad Croc driver Selio of moving into first place in the driver’s championship at the end of the day.
Meanwhile, once the officials gave a green flag on another attempted restart, the race became a two way tussle between Carella and Al Qamzi.
The 27 year-old Italian was able to hold on long enough for his fifth career victory. Alex now has 59 points moving him ahead of the ill Team Abu Dhabi driver Ahmed Al Hameli who remains in hospital in America with 50 earned points and hoping to return before the end of the season.
'I had a real rough afternoon and had to push as hard as I could to hold off Thani,' said Alex. 'The closest he got at one time was within three seconds of me but I was able to pace him to the finish. There are still two races to be run and it’s a long way to the end of the season so I have to just focus on the prize of winning more races before the sun sets in Sharjah in December.'
Taking third and his third podium in four races this season was CTIC China driver Philippe Chiappe. The French pilot, who had a steady race, finishing 14.14 seconds behind for the final podium spot, regained his composure after a slow start dropping him from fourth to sixth before fighting back.
'It's always something special to reach a podium in China,' said Philippe. 'Now my next step is to finally put together a full race and win for the first time, hopefully before the end of the season and a fight for the title as well.'
Fourth was Italian veteran Francesco Cantando of the Singha Team who took part in his 16th Chinese Grand Prix looking for his second victory in the People's Republic.
His steady run kept him just in front of rookie driver Youssef Al Rubayan who is fast learning what it takes to finish in the top five with his best career finish for the Atlantic Team.
Another rookie driving for Team Abu Dhabi and replacing Ahmed Al Hameli was Majed Al Mansoori racing for the first time in five years while finishing a F1 event for the first time in a decade with a sixth.
Russian driver Stanislav Kurtsenovskiy was the second driver of CTIC China to finish in the top ten coming back from a crash in Kiev at the last race to have a steady run to seventh place picking up four points in the process.
Another rookie and the youngest driver in the field Filip Roms of the Mad Croc Team tied for his best career result with an eighth place.
Meanwhile Italian Valerio Lagianella came home ninth for the Singha Team earning points for the third time in four starts this season.
Rounding out the top ten was Norwegian Marit Stromoy of Team Nautica for his first point of the season after stopping briefly for a pit stop before resuming the race three laps down from the leader.
The Grand Prix in Liuzhou was the first time in the history of the series that two female drivers took part and the rookie from Sweden Bimba Sjoholm of Team Sweden was running tenth after qualifying 12th until barrel rolling out of the event on the seventh lap bringing out the pace boat for the first time in the race.
The next stop of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship heads to the heart of the Middle East and Abu Dhabi on the last week of November with many drivers still in the hunt for a World Championship. F1H20 website