UIM F1 H2O World Championship 2012 for power boating kicked off with the 10th annual Grand Prix of Qatar in Doha this weekend. Ahmed Al Hameli battled Sami Selio at the race start, passed him on the first turn and went on to control the race and win for the first time in Doha in front of thousands of race fans along the corniche today, Saturday 10th March.
The young Team Abu Dhabi driver was pushed by the two-time World Champion from the Mad Croc Team for 39 of the 40 laps and would go on to win by 2.63 seconds for his sixth career victory and move out front in the drivers championship with 20 points at the 10th Grand Prix of Qatar.
'It was great for me and the whole Team Abu Dhabi organization,' said Ahmed. 'It took me four races last year to earn my first points so it's nice to start off with a win and now lead in the championship.'
While Ahmed got the glory, his teammate Thani Al Qamzi had bad luck dropping out of the race in third place on the 31st lap with a mechanical problem for the first non-finish for the Abu Dhabi driver in over a year.
Meanwhile, Selio didn't get the luck he was hoping for, finishing third on the day after being in second for all but the final lap and one-half when he was passed by French driver Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC China Team who jumped from fourth to second and picking up 15 well earned points.
'I was so happy with my Moore boat today,' said Philippe. 'It ran like it was on rails and we had the jump in the final few laps to pass Shaun and Sami to slide from fourth to second which was one of my most exciting day in racing.'
Chiappe's second place ties his best finish in his F1 career after taking second in Shenzhen, China in 2010.
The 'drive of the day' honors may have gone to American Shaun Torrente of Miami, Florida who steered his Qatar Team DAC boat from 18th at the start to finish fourth just 4.96 seconds back of the winner.
Shaun was in position to reach his first career podium sitting in third with less than five laps to be run until the yellow flag came out forcing a third re-start when Chiappe made a great move to get past him in the battle for a podium position.
Torrente would settle for his second straight fourth place in Doha in the last two years.
Shaun's teammate Alex Carella, who had qualified a stunning second on Friday, was forced to start back in the 16th position when his engine let go in Saturday's morning warm-up forcing an engine change and moving him almost to the tail end of the field. The defending World Champion would do a wonderful job working his way to the front taking fifth for his third straight top five performance in his three years racing in Doha.
Italian Francesco Cantando was sixth with an equally great performance starting last and moving steadily to the front in a repaired boat he was running after crashing out in practice and missing qualifying on Friday. The Singha F1 Team driver can call this a victory for the team moving up thirteen places in the Grand Prix.
Stanislav Kurtsenovskiy was seventh in his CTIC China boat having a positive start to his first full season back in F1 in four years.
The youngest driver in the history of the sport Filip Roms of the Mad Croc F1 organization made an impressive debut with a solid drive taking eighth at the end of the afternoon for the 18 year old driver.
Another rookie in his first F1 event was hometown star Khalid Al Shamlan of the Qatar Team who qualified well in seventh position and settled into a well suited ninth picking up two championship points in his first try.
Italian Valerio Lagianella of the Singha F1 Team scored the final point of the afternoon taking 10th position while equaling his total point production of 2011 after qualifying 16th on Friday.
The 2012 UIM F1 H2O World Championship now heads for Kazan in the Republic of Tatarstan in Russia for the second straight year on the weekend of the 23rd and 24th of June.
Last season World Champion Alex Carella took the victory. It turned out to be a Qatar Team day taking first and third on the podium and they'll be hoping to do the same this year as well. Team Abu Dhabi and the other nine teams will be doing their best to stop the streak in Russia. UIM F1 H2O official website