Grand Prix of Russia 2011 is the third stop on the UIM F1 H2O World Championship tour and was held this weekend, 16th and 17th July.
by Philippe Stiernon
The Qatar Team continues to roll through the competition early in the Championship for power boating with Italian Alex Carella winning easily from pole on a brilliant drive defeating Team Abu Dhabi pilot Thani Al Qamzi by 4.55 seconds around the two kilometer six pin race course in downtown Kazan.
Alex took his first win since last years event in Linyi, China snapping his seven race losing streak while earning his second career victory. The triumph moves him that much closer to his teammate Jay Price who now leads the championship by just two points at 52-50 making the next round a week from Saturday in Kiev a key event halfway through the season.
'We had it all working our way today,' said Alex. 'The team did a great job in preparing the boat and engine and I just stayed out of trouble and got to the top step for the first time in almost a year and am really happy about the rest of the season.'
While the Italian drove a smooth race out front his teammate from America scratched and clawed his way to the podium in one of the gutsiest drives seen in years, starting 15th and finishing the day with 12 points and a third straight podium and his 20th in his last 24 starts.
'I am worn out after this drama but I kept thinking about the poor unfortunate souls who were on last weeks tragic boat accident and I dedicated my drive to them today,' said Jay. 'It really inspired me to push to the very last second and I feel like I gave it all I had after 40 laps.'
Team Abu Dhabi had a great day as well with their driver Al Qamzi taking a well earned second after starting fifth his his new BABA boat. His teammate and Team Manager Scott Gillman, who hadn't raced in almost four years, came home with a well earned fourth place gaining valuable points in the Team Championship for the Abu Dhabi group.
'The new boat was just great,' said Thani. 'I really liked the way it handled and am happy that I will improve even more with the setup in the next event in Kiev.'
Gillman was a tired driver but satisfied at the same time, 'I had a ball out their today,' said Scott. 'If we hadn't had the last pace boat situation I may have ended up on the podium which would have been a great day for all of us.'
Meanwhile other teams struggled. Team Sweden ending the day with both drivers in the water and boats badly damaged with Jonas Andersson crashing out of the top ten on the seventh lap while teammate Shaun Torrente sitting in second until his kill switch came out stopping the engine for a moment slowing him down to 10th position by the time he fixed it. Shortly thereafter his boat broke apart unexpectedly in the turn three right hand corner with Shaun crashing heavily and ending his day with a broken rib.
'I'm really disappointed with the result,' said Shaun. 'The broken rib won't keep me out but the boat looks like it won't be ready for Kiev. So, we'll see, we don't have much time to fix it.'
The Mad Croc F1 Team also saw their two drivers Sami Selio the defending World Champion drop out in only one lap when his throttle broke after starting third and his teammate Davide Padovan not lasting much longer going one more lap before he retired.
French driver Philippe Chiappe had a solid performance in the CTIC China boat taking a fifth place with his unlucky teammate Pierre Lundin dropping out two laps from the end while in sixth position.
Norway's Marit Stromoy had a great run of her own starting down in 13th position and moving up to sixth at the end of the event for Team Nautica while local driver Stanislav Kourtsenovsky was a solid seventh moving up ten positions from the start for the Jetechtool F1 Team.
Francesco Cantando of Italy earned more championship points with and eighth place position for the Singha F1 Team while Frenchman Philippe Tourre had a good day taking points for the second straight race for the Atlantic Team.
Teammate Duarte Benavente of Portugal dropped out after just 12 laps failing to finish for the fifth straight time in Russia.
Swiss driver Rinaldo Osculati earned his first points of the season with a fine 10th place finish driving in his Team Nautica BABA hull.
The next round of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship for power boating will be a week from Saturday on 30th July for the first Grand Prix of Ukraine in the lovely and historic city of Kiev. It will mark the halfway point of the season and the question continues to be if the Qatar Team can keep their success that they have displayed thus far this season. You can follow all the stories and qualifying and the Grand Prix by going to the official website
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4:23 PM Sun 17 Jul 2011 GMT
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