Grand Prix of Russia 2011 is the third stop on the UIM F1 H2O World Championship tour and is being held over the weekend of 16th and 17th July.
by Philippe Stiernon
The newest stars of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship took center stage in qualifying for tomorrow's 12th Grand Prix of Russia as Qatar Team driver Alex Carella earned his first pole of the year and the third of his career and will lead the field of drivers from 12 different nations on the two kilometer course six pin course on Nizny Kaban Lake.
The 26 year-old driver from Piacenza, Italy who has finished second to his teammate Jay Price on the first two Grand Prix's of the year, ran a sizzling 44.63 second lap while Price who was third quick with a 44.91 broke an engine and will be forced to start from the back for the current points leader in the championship.
'We are really happy with the way we progressed throughout the day,' said Alex. 'We were quickest in morning practice and it took us a while to gain the momentum in the qualifying sessions but finally got the lap we needed and then improved it with a 44.88 and went even quicker with a two tenths faster at the end. This could be our lucky day and I'll be delighted to find a way to victory lane since its almost been a year since our last win.'
Running with him step by step in the final Q3 session for pole position was the American rookie driver Shaun Torrente of Team Sweden who actually had pole position for exactly four seconds before Carella went faster to steal it away with a 44.88 to Shaun's 44.89.
'I thought we did a great job considering I had never even driven this boat or a BABA design before today,' said the driver from Miami, Florida. 'We are primed for the Peter's & May sponsored Team Sweden boat to do some rocking tomorrow and we will be ready to roll for the race and hopefully a win or our first podium before days end.'
Shaun's teammate Joas Andersson of Sweden, a two time winner in Russia in the last four starts qualified 10th quick in a BABA boat he nearly destroyed a few weeks ago in testing in Sweden.
Defending race winner and World Champion Sami Selio of the Mad Croc Team came home fourth quickest with a 45.11 second lap ahead of his young teammate second year racer Davide Padovan of Italy who held the top spot on the timing sheets for the first five minutes of the final 15 qualifying session. Padovan, who has had a pair of sixth place finishes this season will be hoping for his first career podium tomorrow afternoon.
Team Abu Dhabi will be headed by youngster Thani Al Qamzi who ran a 45.37 for fifth quickest two spots ahead of four-time World Champion and Team Manager Scott Gillman who came out of retirement after almost four years to replace for this Grand Prix Ahmed Al Hameli who received a red card at the Grand Prix of Portugal. The California driver will start seventh with a 45.97 second lap in his BABA boat.
Philippe Chiappe of France will lead the CTIC China Team tomorrow starting seventh with a 45.66 second lap while running out of fuel late in the session forcing him to run very few tours in the Q3 session. Philippe will be four spots ahead of his teammate Pierre Lundin of Sweden who starts 11th.
Italian Francesco Cantando of the Singha F1 Team will start ninth with a 46.38 while Norway's Marit Stromoy of Team Nautica was bitterly disappointed with a 14th place starting position after losing her radio transmission and missing her final flying lap to get into the top ten.
Racing is scheduled to begin at 1600 local and 1200 GMT tomorrow afternoon in front of an expected large crowd of fans in downtown Kazan. The race can be watched worldwide online
. F1 H20 Championship website
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2:47 PM Sat 16 Jul 2011 GMT
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