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Chiappe’s back on top in Portimão

Chris Davies on 31st July 2016

F1H2o Grand Prix of Portugal, Portimão

Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella maintained his UIM F1 H2O World Championship lead by finishing fifth overall in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portugal on the Arade River in Portimão.

Carella was deprived of his 13th career win by a flying double World Champion, Philippe Chiappe, who hit the front at one-third distance and began to pull away from the Italian. Carella eventually finished fifth behind the Frenchman, double World Champion Sami Selio, Shaun Torrente and Team Sweden’s Jonas Andersson after a niggling technical issue cost him valuable time

Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al-Qamzi reached the finish in seventh position after passing Erik Stark midway through the race, only to be passed again by the Swede in the closing minutes. The result means that the CTIC China Team moves one point ahead of Team Abu Dhabi in the UIM F1 H2O Teams’ Championship.

Carella and Al-Qamzi should have started the 48-lap race from third and ninth places. The Italian lined up for his 41st career Grand Prix start in third, but an engine issue for Ahmed Al-Hameli in Q2 lifted Al-Qamzi up to eighth. Carella made a supreme start and stormed through into the lead at the expense of Stark and Selio. Chiappe climbed to second, Torrente moved up to fourth and Al-Qamzi improved to seventh.

After four laps, Carella’s lead was 1.96 seconds and he continued to edge away from Chiappe, Selio, Torrente and Stark, although Chiappe began to peg the lead to less than two seconds after eight laps. All 19 drivers from 11 nations were still running. Carella began to catch the back-markers and Chiappe closed to within 0.75 seconds through lap 10, as Andersson moved ahead of Stark and into fifth place.

At one-third distance, after 16 laps, Chiappe managed to pass Carella and snatch the lead on the approach to a turn buoy and began to pull away from the Team Abu Dhabi driver in the hot conditions. The gap was 3.33 seconds after lap 18 and 5.36 seconds after lap 20, as Selio and Torrente maintained third and fourth and Al-Qamzi held seventh until he managed to pass Stark and gain sixth position.

By half-distance, after lap 24, Chiappe led by six seconds from Carella, Selio, Torrente, Andersson, Al-Qamzi and Stark and the Frenchman had the bit between his teeth as the race progressed and the margin rose to 8.64 seconds after 29 laps. But Carella began to slow markedly with technical issues and ceded his second position to Selio, as Torrente moved up to third and Andersson also disposed of Carella to take fourth. Al-Qamzi retained sixth.

With nine laps to go, Chiappe led Selio by 7.34 seconds, but Carella’s niggling problem had dropped him 37 seconds behind the race leader. Chiappe managed to hold on to his lead to storm back into title contention with the race win, as Selio and Torrente rounded off the podium and the Team Abu Dhabi duo finished in fifth and seventh places.

2016 Grand Prix of Portugal

1. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) China CTIC Team 48 laps

2. Sami Selio (FIN) Baba Racing @ 6.80sec

3. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team @ 8.90sec

4. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden @ 12.37sec

5. Alex Carella (ITA) Team Abu Dhabi @ 45.22sec

6. Erik Stark (SWE) Emirates Racing Team L1

7. Thani Al-Qamzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi L1

8. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team L1

9. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Emirates Racing Team L1

10. Bartek Marszalak (POL) Blaze Performance Team L1

2016 UIM F1H2O World Championship – Drivers’ Championship standings:

1. Alex Carella (ITA) Team Abu Dhabi 42 pts

2. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) China CTIC Team 40 pts

3. Shaun Torrente (USA) Victory Team 36 pts

4. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden 18 pts

5. Filip Roms (FIN) Baba Racing 17 pts

6. Sami Selio (FIN) Baba Racing 15 pts

7. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team 12 pts

8. Cédric Deguisne (FRA) Maverick Racing 9 pts, etc

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