F1 H2O Grand Prix of Sharjah, the final stop of the 2011 UIM F1 H2O World Championship, was held today, Friday 16th December.
What was expected to be a 37-lap battle for the World Championship ended three corners into the opening lap when Qatar Team driver Jay Price got tangled up with his teammate Alex Carella going into the circuits tightest turn crashing out in spectacular fashion ending both drivers day and giving the young Italian his first World Championship in only his 15th career start.
'I had a great start passing Jay for second and was a bit surprised that Jay came up on me on the inside two turns later.' said Alex. 'I'm sorry for Jay but I am also elated that I put myself into a position to take the title and now it's time for the Qatar Team to celebrate a great year for both Jay and me.'
The 26 year-old outscored the 2008 World Champion by a 84-79 margin having won races in Kazan and last week in Abu Dhabi with both drivers suffering their first did not finish (DNF) result of the season as a result of the accident.
Hamed Al Hameli from UAE of Team Abu Dhabi - F1 H2O Grand Prix of Sharjah 2011 - Paul Lakatos/Idea Marketing
On the re-start, pole sitting Team Abu Dhabi driver Ahmed Al Hameli immediately pulled away from French pilot Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC China Team with his teammate Thani Al Qamzi challenging the driver from Rouen a few laps later taking over second and making it a 1-2 Team Abu Dhabi result all the way to the finish of the 37 lap event.
'I am so excited to end the season by winning here for the second straight year and finishing fourth in the championship despite not picking up any points in the first three events of the season,' said Ahmed. 'Now, with this momentum hopefully we can carry this over to next March when we open the season in Doha.'
Behind the three boat battle up front, a tremendous four boat dust up for fifth place was taking place behind Italian Francesco Cantando of the Singha Team in fourth with American rookie Shaun Torrente driving for the Qatar Team sponsored by Peters and May having the drive of the day starting 16th and eventually taking fifth.
Marit Stromoy from Norway of Team Nautica - F1 H2O Grand Prix of Sharjah 2011 - Paul Lakatos/Idea Marketing
Norway's Marit Stromoy who was sitting in fifth for much of the afternoon looking for a top-five finish until she took out the third turn buoy and was disqualified. Also in the mix were Swedish drivers Pierre Lundin driving for the CTIC China team having a great run coming from the back of the grid slowing late when he lost his propeller and ending his race 33 laps into the race in tears.
Swede Jonas Andersson of Team Sweden also in the tussle came up short in the end retiring on the final lap and being classified eighth.
Portugal pilot Duarte Benavente came home sixth for the Atlantic Team for his best performance of the year in his Dragon boat. Australian Rhys Coles in only his third career start for Team Sweden came home a fine seventh while Italian Davide Padovan was ninth for the Mad Croc Team.
Italian Valerio Lagiannella of the Singha Team earned his first point of the season taking tenth and becoming the 23rd driver of the season to pick up World Championship points.
So, after a 10 month journey that began in early March in Doha and ending today in Sharjah of the United Arab Emirates, young Italian Alex Carella took his first of what could be many crowns leading his Qatar Team to a one-two drivers championship, Team Championship and Pole Championship. Team Abu Dhabi will be ready to challenge the number one position in 2012 with both their drivers finishing third and fourth in the driver standings.
The 2012 campaign is just 12 weeks away with the opening round along the corniche in Doha in early March to begin what should be another special year of the worlds most challenging racing series on water the UIM F1H2O World Championship tour.
UIM F1 H20 World Championship website
Hamed Al Hameli from UAE of Team Abu Dhabi - F1H2O Grand Prix of Sharjah 2011 - Vittorio Ubertone/Idea Marketing