Carella storms to third in qualifying

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Going strong: Alex Carella clocked 46.06 seconds

Four of the six fastest drivers in BRM Qualifying had taken pole position in Liuzhou before and two hundredths of a second separated the top three in a thrilling session as Ahmed Al-Hameli took pole ahead of Philippe Chiappe.

It meant that Carella was unable to top the times having claimed pole in Liuzhou between 2012-14 as the Team Abu Dhabi driver clocked 46.06 seconds.

Thani Al-Qamzi was plagued by engine issues in yesterday morning’s free practice session and the Carella’s team-mate was eventually eliminated in the second of three qualifying sessions, meaning he will start today’s race from eighth position.

That was one of the closest pole position qualifying sessions for a long time and it puts Alex in a strong position for the start of the race on Monday,” said Salem Al-Romaithi, assistant general manager of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC).

“Rashed Al-Qamzi again showed his consistency and another podium finish enabled him to extend his lead in the F4-S Championship.”

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Chris Harris: Living car lovers' dream on Top Gear

Denzil Pinto 23/09/2016
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Petrolhead: Chris Harris (r)

When it comes to the coolest jobs in the world, Chris Harris’ occupation is a difficult one to top. As co-presenter of ‘Top Gear’, the world’s most popular motoring show, Harris has the enviable task of driving some of the most luxurious and sophisticated cars, more often than not in high speeds at some iconic locations.

His latest adventure brought him to Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi alongside The Stig as part of the BBC Worldwide’s partnership with streaming service Starz Play, meaning UAE viewers can now catch up on the global popular show.

Unsurprisingly, The Stig did not utter a word, but Harris was exactly how he is on screen in the 23rd season and spoke to Sport360 about his favourite cars, why he took up the co-presenting job and what he thinks of movie franchise ‘Fast and Furious’.

What was your very first car?

It was a Mini 998. My dad bought it for me before I passed my driving test. I spent ages doing it up. But I failed my driving test first time and it took me three months to book the next one. It meant I had to look at this thing on my driveway and I couldn’t drive it on the highway.

Out of all the cars, which one is your favourite?

I see it as which cars would I pay to be reunited with. I’ve owned around 100 cars and some of them are gone which you would like back. The Mini is one that I would love to have back, also the Porsche 911 Club Sport which I would love to have back. There’s many cars that I’d like back. I often think about what car I would like to buy and that’swhat excites me.

What’s the most amount of money you have spent on a car?

I don’t have much money so I don’t spend much money on cars. I borrow a lot of money to buy cars and that’s a different thing. So the level that I’ve reached to buy cars has been huge loads. I’ve borrowed £100,000 to buy a car. My life is a series of boxes which I want to tick off and I want to own as many of the cars that I can. Here, I get to drive pretty much any car that I want. Owning a car is a very much a different thing and there’s something about it being yours and sitting in a car which has all your stuff in there. I’m obsessed with that. My problem is I will always spend 80 per cent of my net income on cars.

Chris Harris with the Ferrari F12 TDF.

Chris Harris with the Ferrari F12 TDF.

What do you think of some of the cars here in the UAE?

There are some very, very good cars here. The car culture of here is mind-bending. I’ve been here a few times so I’m quite familiar with the country. If you really research what’s here, the best cars are in this area of the world. The stuff you see on the streets is just the tip. There is a private collection that is lurking behind and the car enthusiasm is massive.

Is there a car out there that you want to try out?

I’ve never driven a Ferrari 250 GTO (right) and there are a lot of nice cars that I’ve never driven. It’s difficult to keep up. I do this stuff on the road but I wouldn’t know what the car is, which is partly because of the design of the cars. The criteria the designers now have to meet for all the safety requirements means cars are now all different. I’m quite busy with my work schedule so I think I’ll need to regeek on the ordinary cars,  which I would love to spend more time on as most of the time I’m spending time in supercars.

What are your impressions of the driving seen in the Fast and Furious films?

I’ve never watched one film. I think partly, it was the cult that was starting off when I was doing a lot of things. When I saw a  couple of clips, it wasn’t something I wanted to see.

I don’t really like the vision of some of those drift shots. My passion is in the reality of car films and I don’t want to fake anything. I always want you to know what the car can do that and I was driving it. It’s a bit like if you miss the first two episodes of a box set, you’re less inclined to watch the rest. In the next three months, I have promised that I will watch each and every film of the franchise. There must be something in it because everyone loves them. I’m not saying I don’t like it but they are so popular, so it’s got be cool.

Ferrari 250 GTO.

Ferrari 250 GTO.

If you had a tank of gas left and could take a lap around Yas Marina, which car would you take?

It would be a 1959 Lister Costin Coupe, of which there is just one. I raced it a couple of years ago and I loved it. That would last two laps because it takes a lot of petrol. That would be good drive for the movement as well as being inside a very nice car.

You had mentioned that you didn’t want to step into the shoes of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. Why the change of heart?

More than a year ago, Chris Evans phoned me and said he was given the job. I didn’t even know the guy. I hadn’t even spoken to him. He’s a massive star in the UK. What he presented to me was that he wanted to do something different. That appealed to me and what I really like about that first season, I was not trying to be one of the others (Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May). They are geniuses in their craft. I’ve admired them from afar and the worst thing you can do is try to emulate them. I’m very different and am not naturally as funny as them but different. I love my cars and hopefully I can bring something different to the show. I thought I had to give it a What really swung it was we all have conversations to ourselves, is strange but true. If I had spoken to the 17-year-old of me and said I wouldn’t fit in, I think the 17-yearold  me would’ve kicked me. I’m massively excited for the future now.

You’ve driven a lot of cars around the world but what is the best track you’ve driven on?

It has to be Nurburgring. Each time I go there, you can’t really get a sense of the track as there are many corners and challenges. For wheel-to-wheel racing, that is a difficultrace because there are not many places to overtake. For sprint racing it has to be the circuit of Spa-Francorchamps.

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