The Grand Prix of Ukraine which is the fourth round of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship, has witnessed an astonishing show of skill by Team Abu Dhabi driver Ahmed Al Hameli who completed a rare weekend sweep at the top of the table in both practice sessions, taking pole position as fastest qualifier and finishing in grand style.
by Philippe Stiernon
The 32 year-old driver from Abu Dhabi had missed the last Grand Prix in Russia because of a red card received in Portugal in May and earned his first victory of the year and the fourth of his career while earning 20 points for the effort.
'We had the perfect set-up all weekend and never missed a beat,' said Ahmed. 'It was almost like a movie, everything we did was spot on and I can't say how happy I am with my crew who worked so hard for this win. It was a physical race, I'm tired but truly happy with the result.'
Finishing just 2.05 seconds behind Ahmed was World Championship points leader Jay Price of the Qatar Team who expanded his lead in the drivers championship by taking 15 points while his young teammate Alex Carella finished off the podium for the first time this season in fifth spot after a slow start now leading him by a ten point margin 67-57 as the series heads to Liuzhou, China on the first weekend of October.
'I was running wild out there for awhile staying with Ahmed lap after lap and getting as close a 1.2 seconds,' said the American. 'But towards the final few laps I decided it was smarter to take the points instead of challenging for the win and it paid off for me picking up 15 valuable points and getting a bit of breathing room in the championship standings.'
Finishing third and on the podium for the first time this season was Sami Selio of Finland as the Mad Croc Team driver got a great start and jumped from fourth to third finishing 13.93 seconds behind and more importantly stayed in the championship points chase with 12 more now holding down 21 for the season for the defending World Champion.
Italian Francesco Cantando of the Singha F1 Team christened his new Blaze boat with a fine fourth place after charging up from seventh early in the event having his most successful race this season so far.
Jonas Andersson of Sweden was sixth in his BABA Team Sweden boat for his second finish of the season while teammate Shaun Torrente of Miami, Florida had a short event in his Peters & May sponsored DAC when his engine expired after one lap.
Thani Al Qamzi had a bit of a disappointing afternoon taking seventh for the second time this year for the driver who came into the Grand Prix with 31 points in third and leaving with 35 at days end for Team Abu Dhabi.
Pierre Lundin of Sweden finished a race for the first time this season bringing his CTIC China Team boat home in eighth after qualifying tenth. His teammate Philippe Chiappe of France came home ninth after having a less than happy weekend after qualifying 11th yesterday and earning only two points for the driver who came into the event in fourth place in the drivers table.
Rounding out the top ten was rookie driver Bartek Marszalek of Poland driving his Team Nautica boat from 15th to his first ever point in only his second career start.
The UIM F1 H2O World Championship now heads for the Far East and the Grand Prix of China in Liuzhou the first weekend of October. The question will be for the remainder of the field will be can Jay Price continue his podium streak or will he falter and open the door to either his teammate Alex Carella, Thani Al Qamzi, Sami Selio or Philippe Chiappe before the season ends in December. Stay tuned, the excitement is only going to get more intense as the 2011 campaign marches on. F1H2O website
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6:09 PM Sat 30 Jul 2011 GMT