Carella fends off Torrente to secure win for Team Abu Dhabi

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Alex Carella speeds away at the Grand Prix of France in Evian.

The Italian managed to fend off a fierce challenge from Victory Team’s Shaun Torrente on Evian’s Lac Leman Sunday afternoon.

Carella led from the start until lap 10, when the American hit the front. The Victory Team driver clouted a turn buoy soon after and was forced to run a drive through penalty lap after the turn buoys had been secured.

Carella regained the lead while Torrente regrouped to reach the chequered flag in third after passing Erik Stark with 11 laps to run.

Carella’s victory by the margin of 11.72 seconds gives him an 11-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship after two rounds and Team Abu Dhabi leads the CTIC China Team by eight points in the Teams’ Championship.

Carella had qualified in pole position for the race after a thrilling Q2 session. “We changed position a couple of times in the Q2 and, at the end, I see a chance on the last lap to take it and we fought and we got the pole position,” he said. “It was great for the time after the hard job they have done for the last few months.

“Taking the win is a fantastic feeling. I dedicate this win to the hard work put in by everyone by Team Abu Dhabi over the last few weeks. It’s a fantastic feeling to be leading the championship.”

With double World Champions Philippe Chiappe and Sami Selio both retiring and Jonas Andersson suffering engine issues, it opened the door for Finland’s Filip Roms to take a career-best second position. Cedric Deguisne also finished a career- best fourth behind Torrente.

Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al-Qamzi qualified in fourth and held his position for the first eight laps until a mechanical issue intervened and forced him down the leader board. The disappointed Emirati eventually retired and failed to pick up any championship points.

The UIM F1 H2O World Championship now heads to Portugal’s Algarve coast and the town of Portimao at the end of the month.

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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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