Defending World Champion Alex Carella steered his Qatar Team DAC boat to a 46.59 second lap snagging his second straight pole here for tomorrow's 21st Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi the fifth round of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship for powerboating.
The two lap 'shootout' for pole position saw the driver from Italy improve past Team Abu Dhabi driver Thani Al Qamzi by .41 of a second to take his sixth career pole while opening the door for his possible third win of the season and a second straight world title as well.
'We had an excellent set-up for this new course today,' said the 27 year-old. 'I knew the boat and engine were right where we needed to be and the conditions were just right for us to do a sub 47 second lap that we needed for the number one position.'
'Now, it all comes down to the race and with three other World Champions in the field it won't be easy for me believe me. We will do our best and with a little luck can celebrate a new title tomorrow night.'
While Alex grabbed the number one position, Al Qamzi came close to his first pole position himself in ten tries on his home circuit. His 47.00 second lap was fastest for a few moments until Carella topped it.
'I was really pleased to take second today,' said Thani. 'This is my best qualifying effort at this race and I have confidence I can take a shot at my first win of the season and first win on home waters as well tomorrow. We'll see. I'd like to do this for my teammate Ahmed Al Hameli as well who can't race here this weekend because of his illness.'
In third position and still with a real shot at the title is Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC China Team who missed out on pole by .44 of a second. The French driver is 11 points back of Carella and needs to fight his way to the front in order for him to have a good shot at his first title.
ABU DHABI-UAE Philippe Chiappe of France of China CTIC Team at UIM UIM F1 H2O Grand Prix of UAE on the Corniche breakwater, November 29-30, 2012. - Vittorio Ubertone/Idea Marketing Click Here to view large photo
'We need to push quickly towards number one,' said Philippe. 'We are running out of time and races in this season and nothing less than ahead of Alex will be awful tough on our chances if we get to Sharjah next week to far behind in the points.'
The driver from northern France has never won and this event will be his 80th career start. So, everything will need to fall into place for his chance for glory.
Starting fourth will be Jonas Andersson for Team Sweden in a good run in his Danish boat doing a 47.05 lap just missing second by less than a tenth of a second. His teammate, rookie F2 World Champion Erik Stark, will start 18th for this all Swedish team.
ABU DHABI-UAE Jonas Andersson of Sweden of Team Sweden at UIM UIM F1 H2O Grand Prix of UAE on the Corniche breakwater, November 29-30, 2012. - Vittorio Ubertone/Idea Marketing Click Here to view large photo
Fifth in the line-up is six-time North American F1 Champion Terry Rinker. The driver from Florida led the timing sheet for pole briefly with a solid 47.25 second lap in the number two Qatar Team DAC boat. He put on a fine performance considering he had never raced the boat before today.
Two-time World Champion Sami Selio of Finland ran sixth with a 47.44 second lap in his Mad Croc Team BABA hull. Sami, still has a chance for his third title but will need two straight wins and luck to do the almost impossible considering he is 18 points back of Carella.
Hall of Fame driver Scott Gillman, putting on a racing helmet for the first time this season instead of his usual Team Managers hat, did well in his Team Abu Dhabi new BABA hull in a boat he had never driven before this weekend. He timed out with a 48.46 and will be shooting for the podium for his 56th time of his career.
Eighth, in his best qualifying performance of the season, was Portugal native Duarte Benavente who did a 48.5 in his Atlantic Team boat as he chases his fifth career podium tomorrow.
Rounding out the top ten, were a pair of drivers who didn't get a chance to be in the shootout because of technical problems. Marit Stromoy of Norway will start ninth after a starter motor malady for Team Nautica and kept her from running, while Youssef Al Rubayan of Kuwait for the Atlantic Team in tenth position struggling with an engine problem.
Other notables in the line-up are 2008 World Champion Jay Price returning to F1 racing for the first time this season driving for Skydive Dubai experiencing engine problems all day settling for 11th. Just behind him will be rookie driver Ziwei 'Leo' Xiong in 12th position for the CTIC China organization in a great starting spot for the 21 year-old driver.
Two time winner in Abu Dhabi starting back in 14th will be Francesco Cantando of the Singha Team while returning driver Malcolm Goodman is 15th in the new Dragon boat built by ex-World Champion Jonathan Jones.
Twenty-three drivers from 15 different nations will take the start of the 21st Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi in the downtown setting of dynamic Abu Dhabi on Friday afternoon at 15:30 local, 11:30 GMT and 06:30 EST on the East Coast of North America for the fifth and penultimate round of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship. F1H20 website