Grand Prix of China is the fifth stop on the 2011 UIM F1 H2O World Championship for power boating and is taking place in Liuzhou.
On a rainy day in front of thousands of race fans along the Liu River, in an intensive three boat duel for pole position, Ahmed Al Hameli of Team Abu Dhabi out paced Italian Alex Carella and Frenchman Philippe Chiappe taking fast time with a 47.15 second lap.
The 32 year-old driver from Abu Dhabi pushed by new Ron Anderson engines arriving from the USA kept the competition at bay as Team Qatar driver Carella jumped from ninth quick to second with a 47.29 second lap in his desperate attempt to catch his teammate Jay Price who leads the championship and Carella by a 67 to 57 point margin and qualified fifth with a 47.68 second lap.
'The crew did a great job preparing the perfect package for me today,' said Al Hameli. 'The boat ran perfectly and I was determined to stay out front. We feel we are on a roll and we want to complete another weekend tomorrow like Kiev where we won after taking pole.'
For Carella, it was a must for him to try and jump ahead of Price in trying to close the points gap after he lost ground at the last Grand Prix with a fifth place finish in Kiev back in July.
'I am so happy that we did the job we needed today and tomorrow we'll push for the win,' said Alex. 'We won here in China last year in Linyi and we feel confident we can do it again. Let's see how it all plays out when the afternoon is over.'
Philippe Chiappe was in perfect position to earn his first career pole position sitting just a few tenth's of a second behind Al Hameli feeling great pressure driving for all of China in his new CTIC China French built Moore boat. For the driver from Rouen, the final five minutes of the 15 minute Q3 session saw him settle for third while his teammate Pierre Lundin of Sweden doing a 48.60 second lap finished ninth giving the local team a real shot for two top five finishes for tomorrows Grand Prix.
Team Abu Dhabi driver Thani Al Qamzi came home fourth fastest with a 47.63 looking for his first win in two years, while Price, who has won twice in four starts in Liuzhou hopes to keep his string of four straight podiums intact when the afternoon comes to a close for the Qatar Team.
Sixth quickest is defending World Champion Sami Selio of Finland who won at his only finish in 2009 and needing a win in the most desperate way in order for him to have any chance at back to back titles. Seventh is his young teammate Davide Padovan who hasn't finished in the last two events looking for his first podium in his 13th career start.
Jonas Andersson of Team Sweden who won back in 2009 leads his three boat team in eighth position while Italian Francesco Cantando of the F1 Singha Team will start his record breaking 15th race in China chasing his 13th career win from tenth position on the grid in his Blaze boat.
Drivers from 11 different countries will take to the six turn 2 kilometer race circuit on the Liu River in front of an expected large crowd of race fans from throughout Southern China for tomorrows 16th Grand Prix of China.
The race begins at 16:00 local, 8:00 GMT and 04:00 EST in North America. The fifth Round of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship can be viewed live on the tours official website
beginning at 15:55 local time with the Pre-Race Show heading into the Grand Prix start. F1 H20 website