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Alex Carella faces must-win Abu Dhabi GP battle

Abu Dhabi: Alex Carella, the reigning world champion and driver of the Qatar Team, will have to beat his colleague Shaun Torrente in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Friday to defend his UIM Formula One Powerboats title.

Meanwhile, Thani Al Qamzi and Ahmad Al Hamly, both of the Abu Dhabi Team, have to produce their best at the Breakwater in order to end on the podium this year as both were forced to retire in the Doha GP last week because of electrical problems and engine trouble respectively.

Finn Sami Selio won the pole run of the event in 45.2 seconds followed by Frenchman Philippe Chiappe in 45.11, Italian Carella with 45.28 and UAE Ahmad Al Hamly with 45.68 in fourth place. The Abu Dhabi GP is a part of the Marine Festival organised by the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) to celebrate the 42nd National Day.

Torrente was a surprise winner in the accident-packed race last week in Qatar. It was his maiden first-place finish in 14 career race starts. He leads the drivers’ standings with 55 points followed by his teammate Carella with 48, Selio with 44, Chiappe, with 39, Jonas Andersson of Sweden, with 27 and Al Qamzi with 22, while Al Hamly is placed 11th with only seven points.

The Abu Dhabi GP is the penultimate round of the World Championship as Sharjah will host the final round next week at Khalid Lagoon with only 40 points at stake in the two rounds.

Al Qamzi was a third-place finisher last season in both the drivers’ championship as his daring performances led the Abu Dhabi Team to win the team event in style. But this year he has not registered a singe podium finish in the four races of the series and was forced to retire in Doha last week to increase the margin between himself and the leaders. It was brave enough from Al Hamly to return to the fast lanes of the UIM FI races after a long absence because of cancer.

“He was one of the most promising young drivers and he needs only time to return to his best,” Salem Al Rumaithi, the Director of the ADIMSC and the Manager of the Abu Dhabi Team told Gulf News on Thursday.

“Thani [Al Qamzi] was unfortunate to have to retire from the last race because he was in a good position to threaten the leaders but the difference increased and we have to wait and see what both drivers will do on home waters here and in Sharjah next week.”

FRIDAY’S SCHEDULE

10:15-11:15 am: FI free practice

15:15-15:30: FI parade lap

15:30-16:15 Abu Dhabi FI Grand Prix (maximum 45 minutes)

16:20-16:45 Prizegiving ceremonies