Abu Dhabi Racing and Peugeot Middle East official driver Sheikh Khalid bin Faisal Al Qassimi, behind the wheel of a 3008 DKR Maxi, with co-driver Xavier Panseri, moved up to seventh overall after finishing fourth on stage 10, the Salta-Belén section in Argentina, which comprised of a total distance of 797km, with 373km of special section.
Stage nine had to be cancelled for safety reasons as organisers did not want to take any risks because of persistent thunderstorms and flooding due to rising river waters.
Al Qassimi, was inside the top five throughout the stage and did a brilliant job for an excellent result at the end of the day to stay inside the top 10 contenders overall.
The challenge for the Abu Dhabi Racing driver was negotiating the narrow tracks in the canyons, but Sheikh Khalid eventually tackled the section to come up with an excellent result at close of business.
He said: “We started the day with two sections to tackle. At about 70km we caught the car ahead of us and when we came to the rios it was quite narrow, so navigation was difficult.
“We found a track which was part of the road-book and we drove about 9km and realised we had missed the track far away from the waypoint. We had to go back so we lost what we gained.
“Then I pushed hard in the second section where I finished 4th overall. It was a good feel for me today although it was rough and difficult.
“Tomorrow (stage 11) will be a very difficult day. It will feature lots of dunes but also vegetation. Smart crews will get the navigation points right, but again as I said it will be a difficult day.”
Stage 11: Belén – Chilecito (747 km)
If the weather is particularly hot, reducing the firmness of the sand, this will be one of the toughest spots in Argentina… and potentially the place where a racer in good shape will be able to shine. As in 2016, the previous day’s special stage times will define the starting order, with a mix of bikes, cars and trucks for the 25 fastest finishers.
In front of 4,000 spectators, Omani Rafaat Al Yahyai managed to clinch the 2017 Red Bull Car Park Drift Series Final title in a spectacular manner. Second place went to Othman Al Takriti from Jordan while Egypt's Ahmad Hamada claimed third spot on the podium.
The day started with motorsport spectators lining up at Sirbb Circuit to witness the high adrenaline spectacle and find out who will claim the coveted 2017 King of Drift title.
The final was held under the patronage of Sheikh Ali Fawaz AlSabah, organized by Basel Salem AlSabah Motor Racing Club, in cooperation with SIRBB Circuit and partners Total, Falken, Shop & Ship, PS4, Nissan, Boubyan Bank, Drag 965, Acqua Eva and Trolley. Media partners, MBC Action, Kuwait Times and Aljarida covered this popular event.
The drifters then began the first heat consisting of 15 drifters on a challenging track concocted by Abdo Feghali, Guinness World Book Record holder for the longest drift.
Round one featured 15 drifters from Kuwait, Egypt, Lebanon, Mauritius, Bahrain, Tunisia, Jordan, Oman, Morocco, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, and Palestine. With only one drifter from each participating country, the Red Bull Car Park Drift rules allows three drifters from the hosting country; this year, Kuwait. The three drifters from Kuwait participated in the local qualifier and topped the leaderboard; the winner, Ali Makhseed, first runner up, Fahad Aljadei, and the third place winner, Abdullah Aljadi.
Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella will have to wait until next weekend’s Grand Prix of Sharjah to make his final push for a fourth UIM F1 H2O World Championship title after finishing third in a scintillating 25th Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi off the Abu Dhabi Breakwater on Friday afternoon.
Triple World Champion Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC Shenzhen China Team didn’t read the Team Abu Dhabi script correctly and the wily Frenchman delivered a stunning start-to-finish victory to reduce the Italian’s lead to 11 points with 20 points at stake for a win next week and 15 for second place. It means Carella will need to finish third or higher to claim his crown if Chiappe manages to win the race.
Norwegian Marit Stromoy missed out on her second ever Grand Prix victory by just 2.37 seconds, but it was a stunning drive by the only female in the championship. Team Sweden’s Erik Stark ceded another five points to Carella with fifth place and cannot catch now the Team Abu Dhabi driver at the final round. Victory Team’s Shaun Torrente finished fourth and Team Sweden’s Jonas Andersson rounded off the top six.
The result means that Carella and Chiappe will go head-to-head on Khaled Lagoon and the pair will also be working closely with their respective teams to try and clinch the UIM Teams’ Championship. Team Abu Dhabi currently holds a 33-point advantage over Team Sweden and 35 points over the CTIC Shenzhen China Team.
Carella said: “I am quite happy with this performance actually. It was a tough race. I did what I could. I pushed and closed the gap to Marit many times but it was just too risky. I think we really have to push at the maximum next week.”
Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi were closely matched throughout the race and had differing fortunes at the finish. Thani reached the chequered flag in seventh position, but fuel pump problems plagued Rashed’s DAC on the final couple of laps and he slipped from 10th to 12th. “It was disappointing for me,” said Rashed. “I pushed hard and was in 10th, then I had this fuel pump problem and it cost me two places.”
Cappellini said: “We are happy because we scored points and Erik (Stark) is now out of contention. It’s just Chiappe and Alex now. But it is very important that we win the Teams’ Championship and we will work hard for that. In case Chiappe wins the race next week and his second driver arrives second, it will give them the same points as us. We need just one point to beat them and three to beat Team Sweden. So this title is very near.”
Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi maintained third in the UIM F4-S Trophy standings after finishing fifth in the second of the 18-lap Abu Dhabi races. Jeremy Brisset led from start-to-finish to move within two points of series leader and race runner-up Mansoor Al-Mansoori of Dubai’s Victory Team. Rashed Al-Romaithi finished ninth in the second of the host team’s boats.
Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi
With technical issues sidelining a disappointed Bartek Marszalek, Matthew Palfreyman and Erik Edin, only 18 boats lined up the starting pontoon for the 52-lap race and engine changes forced Mike Szymura and Sami Selio to the bottom of the running order. As a result, Rashed and Thani Al-Qemzi started from seventh and 13th.
Chiappe led into the first turn buoy from Stromoy, Carella, Torrente and Stark, but the race was yellow flagged when Sami Selio and Cedric Deguisne came together spectacularly at turn five near the beach area of the race course. Selio’s BABA ended up inverted in the water and the double World Champion’s miserable season reached a new low.
Racing resumed on lap six and the leading five boats held station with Chiappe extending his advantage to 2.69 seconds through lap eight and Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi held 10th and 11th places. The Frenchman’s lead over Stromoy grew to 5.87 seconds after 12 laps, as Carella, Torrente and Stark maintained their top five positions and Thani Al-Qemzi moved ahead of Ahmed Al-Hameli to snatch ninth.
But Stromoy was in superb form and began to reduce Chiappe’s lead as the leader began to catch some tail-enders. Both Mike Szymura and Amaury Jousseaume retired and the field had already been reduced to just 14 boats before lap 15. Chiappe regained a second of his advantage into lap 18, but Francesco Cantando and Duarte Benevente also left the fray and the field was whittled down to just 12. The leader had lapped everyone to 10th position by the time he reached lap 24, as Carella, Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi maintained third, ninth and 11th.
By the halfway point, after 26 laps, the top five was unchanged and the leaders settled into a high-speed procession through the middle of the race as cloud cover reduced air temperatures in fading light over the race course. Rashed Al-Qemzi managed to find a way to overtake Al-Hameli and climbed into the top 10 and Thani Al-Qemzi moved in front of Filip Roms to snatch eighth.
Chiappe maintained his composure and benefited from a lighter fuel load to maintain his lead over the pursuing Norwegian and the series leader. The Frenchman reached the chequered flag to claim a deserved win and managed to close the gap on Carella to 11 points. Stromoy rounded off a stunning weekend with second position and Stark maintained his title push with fifth place behind Victory Team’s Shaun Torrente. Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi finished seventh and 12th, but Peter Morin dropped down to ninth in the final minutes.
Deguisne was later red-carded for dangerous driving after his collision with Selio and will miss the final race of the season.
2017 UIM F1 H2O World Championship – result:
Francesco Cantando (ITA) Blaze F1 Team RET
Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team RET
Mike Szymura (DEU) Emirates Racing Team RET
Amaury Jousseaume (FRA) Maverick F1 Team RET
Cédric Deguisne (FRA) Maverick F1 Team RET
Sami Selio (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing RET
Bartek Marszalak (POL) Blaze F1 Team DNS
Matthew Palfreyman (GBR) Emirates Racing Team DNS
Erik Edin (SWE) Team Sweden DNS
2017 UIM F1 H2O World Championship – positions after round 5: