Team Abu Dhabi bidding for glory at Grand Prix of France

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Rough conditions: Alex Carella.

Large winds and unsafe water conditions meant Saturday’s morning practice session was cut short and then stopped as officials were forced to postpone the qualifying session due to bad weather at Evian’s Lac Leman.

Victory Team’s Shaun Torrente was among the 18 pilots who took to the waters. He managed to do five laps around the 2.08km course to record the fastest lap of 1min and 06.644 secs before he was forced to stop.

Carella also experienced the conditions during practice and insists it was a tough day.

“The wave was too long,” he said, who completed nine laps with his fastest being in the second with 1min and 08.21 seconds.

His team-mate Al-Qamzi agreed. “It was too rough and quite dangerous,” he said. “It was not possible to push. I tried but did not want to risk the boat.”

This is the second round of the competition with Philippe Chiappe winning the opener in Dubai in March. And the Frenchman insists it would be a “risk” to compete if conditions don’t improve.

“It’s very bad out there,” he said. “Impossible to drive. It’s not a good idea to go out. It’s a lottery but the race is not. The conditions are getting worse. We risk too much in these conditions. If it is like this for qualifying we will not start.”

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Awesome foursome: Team Abu Dhabi.

Boat 36 proved to be resilient even after seeing sister boat Team Abu Dhabi 35 drop back to fifth with engine issues. Thani Al-Qamzi, double UIM F1 H2O world champion Alex Carella, Majed Al-Mansoori and Italian Tullio Abbate led the opening race when luck deserted them.

The two boats then took part in a second endurance race yesterday and Team Abu Dhabi 36 finished third overall after, with Boat 35 down in fifth position. New Star 20 held on to the lead to claim outright victory from Navicart Racing after finishing six laps ahead.

“Winning the first of the races was a great start to the weekend for the entire team,” said a delighted Salem Al Romaithi, assistant general manager of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC). “The race was close and they all made a superb contribution to a great team effort.”

It was far from easy for Team Abu Dhabi in the first race. New Star 20 led after the first hour, with the eventual winners in third place.

Navikart Racing gained the upper hand overtaking Boat 35 after 94 laps. Boat 36 maintained third and New Star fourth. After 137 laps, Team Abu Dhabi 35 held the lead from their team-mates and Navikart, but a mere two laps separated the top three boats in what was developing into a thrilling race.

Navikart regained the advantage after 182 laps and headed into the fifth hour leading Team Abu Dhabi 36 by three.

New Star 22 then snatched the lead after 216 laps. They were a single lap in front of Boat 36, only for Team Abu Dhabi to hit the front and claim a stunning win for the ADIMSC.

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All Emirati crew: Team AD’s Boat 36.

In the race at Necko Lane, Team Abu Dhabi will line up with boats 35 and 36 in the S2 class, with double UIM F1 H2O world champion Alex Carella, teaming up with the Emirati duo of Thani Al Qamzi and Majed Al Mansoori with the experienced Italian Tullio Abbate at the helm of Team Abu Dhabi 35.

Rashid Al-Tayer, Mohammed Al Mehairbi, Rashid Al Qamzi and Faleh Al Mansoori form an all-Emirati Team Abu Dhabi 36.

Al Qamzi and Al Mehairbi kept their hand in with racing action on Lake Lugano two weekends ago and finished sixth and 14th overall in a rain-delayed UIM F2 Championship race at the Italian enclave of Campione d’Italia.

“This is another exciting challenge for Team Abu Dhabi and an excellent opportunity to gain more experience in the endurance discipline that will improve fitness and give our drivers even more time in a racing environment,” said Salem Al-Romaithi, assistant general manager of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club.

“This a famous race with a proud tradition and we are delighted to be here to compete with a strong line-up of drivers that did us so proud at Rouen earlier this summer.”

Carella added: “This is an important race for Team Abu Dhabi because we want to try and win the World Endurance Championship.”

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