The Grand Prix of Qatar, opening round of the 2014 UIM F1 H2O World Championship, gets underway tomorrow in Doha. Today, Swedish driver Jonas Andersson captured his second career pole and his second on Doha Bay and will lead the field of drivers from 11 different nations.
The 39 year-old driver from Fruvi, spent very little time on the water and dug himself out of a giant hole after crashing heavily submarining his boat in the last seconds of morning free practice replacing bits of boat and replacing his engine in order to continue the qualifying for the rest of the day.
Jonas recovered running to the top of the timing sheets throughout all three qualifying sessions of Friday afternoon's racing taking the number one position with a 41.34 second lap and a speed of 169.81kph around the five-turn two kilometer course.
The Team Sweden driver only went faster as the afternoon continued and gave boat builder Christian Molgaard of Denmark his first F1 H2O pole at the same time.
'We came a long way back from what happened to us this morning,' said Jonas. 'We came here knowing that we have won here before and this is always a great race event for us considering I finished second and on the podium here a year ago as well.'
'We'll be ready to chase our fifth career victory tomorrow.'
Running second was Finnish two-time World Champion driver Sami Selio of the Mad Croc Team who made the Swedish-Finnish rivalry alive again this time on the water missing pole by just .7/100's of a second with a 41.41 second lap.
'We thought we had the right set-up to take the pole,' said Selio. 'We were hoping to nail down our third pole here and our 23rd career number one and by missing it by only seven one-hundredths of a second, well, we'll take it and push early tomorrow and hopefully start the season as we did in 2013 with a win in our first start.'
The Qatar Team, which has won three of the last four races here on home waters, saw their pair of drivers headed by last years winner, Miami, Florida's Shaun Torrente, taking third with a 41.44 second lap and 169.40kph speed which was just .10 of a second behind Andersson.
The three-time World Champion Alex Carella, who is still looking for his first win in Qatar with his fourth season with the team, was just .59 seconds back with a time of a 42.03 and a speed of 167.02kph.
'We'll took the third place today,' said Shaun. 'We struggled with the water conditions and the swells especially in the second session and I had to put everything I had in me to move from seventh, which would have kept me out of the final Q3 top-six 'shootout' to fifth just to make it in. I'm looking forward to pushing for my second straight victory here tomorrow.'
For Carella, it was a bad break of a rouge wave that threw off his rhythm to earn a pole for a second straight year, 'We were doing well until I got to the final corner on my first lap when I encountered a real roller that upset the boat and my flow. We are ready to push for a win tomorrow believe me.'
French driver Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC China Team who finished third in the series a year ago and who has done a lot of testing over the winter in the region had to settle for fifth with a time of 43.43, which was 2.09 seconds behind the pole sitter Andersson.
The final driver in the top-six 'shootout' Youssef Al Rubayan of the F1 GC Atlantic organization who finished in third last year here for his only podium thus far in his young career was sixth with a 43.77 second lap fighting the rough water conditions early in the session.
Just missing the Q3 battle for pole position was Portugal's Duarte Benavente who steered his BABA F1 GC Atlantic Team boat to a 43.40 while young Filip Roms of Finland was eighth with a 43.64 second lap for the Mad Croc Team.
Finishing ninth was Norway's Marit Stromoy for Team Nautica and a 44.16 while Chinese driver Ziwei 'Leo' Xiong rounded out the top ten with a 45.97 lap.
Fourteen drivers from 11 different nations will set off for a 40 lap event tomorrow for the Grand Prix of Qatar beginning at 15:45 local (12:45 GMT) and 08:45 EST on the East Coast of North America. F1H20 website