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.
Consisting of top motorsport and drifting experts and athletes, the judging panel were assigned the task of evaluating the competitors. Brothers Elias and Johannes Hountdonji, together forming “Team Driftbrothers”, are both expert drifters from Germany with a history of full-on drifting careers. Aleksandr Grinchuk, a Ukrainian native, has participated in every competition in the city of Odessa, Ukraine, since kick-starting his drifting career in 2007. Local racer and Kuwait’s first certified FIA racing driver, Khaled Al Mudhaf, rounded up the highly qualified judging panel.
Aiming to elevate the competition year after year, Abdo Feghali, modified the criteria to challenge the drifters.
This year, their performance was determined based on car look and design (10%), tire smoke (10%), car sound (7%), section one drifting (15%), section 2 drifting (15%), boxes (15%), gates (15%), and pendulum (13%).
The top eight who broke through to round two were Raafat Al Yahyai, Othman Al Takriti, Ahmad Hamada, Sary Zahalan, Mohammed Al Mansouri, Shahab Pishanidar, Ali Makhseed, and Nassim Saad. This time, only four would make it to the next round. While awaiting the action to resume, spectators were treated to a show by Julien Welsch, pro stunt rider since 2009, who displayed his unique talents to the roaring crowd.
The final four from round 2, Rafaat Al Yahyai, Othman Al Takriti, Ahmad Hamada, and Sary Zahalan all went head to head, with one aim; to be crowned the 2017 King of Drift. Local Kuwaiti competitor, Ali Maskheed impressed the judges with his tire smoke and was awarded the King of Smoke title by Falken Tires.
Ultimately, Omani national, Rafaat Al Yahyai, edged past the competition and clinched the title with a jaw-dropping performance – collecting an impressive 378 points, ensuring that the crown remains in Oman, after his compatriot Haitham Al Hadidi won it last year. He said: “I am incredibly happy to be crowned the 2017 King of Drift and delighted that the crown will remain in Oman for another year.”
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:
Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella qualified in third position for Friday’s Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi, the penultimate round of the 2017 UIM F1 H2O World Championship, where outright victory would confirm the Italian’s fourth world title and put him in joint second position alongside former Team Abu Dhabi driver Scott Gillman in the sport’s Hall of Fame.
Carella posted a fastest lap of 43.02sec in a nail biting qualifying session off the Abu Dhabi Breakwater, where several drivers battled for fractions of a second to gain a crucial advantage to take into the 25th race to be hosted by the Abu Dhabi International Sports Club (ADIMSC) since the start of the 1993 season.
Triple World Champion Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC Shenzhen China Team left it until his last lap to register a winning time of 42.83sec and deprived a flying Norwegian Marit Stromoy of a second career pole position.
Eight-tenths of a second separated the top six with Victory Team’s Shaun Torrente finishing fourth, ahead of Carella’s closest title rival Erik Stark and Emirati Ahmed Al-Hameli.
Carella said: “It was not the best qualifying for me. We made some mistakes. I got a bit lost in my rhythm on my best lap. I guess I am ahead of Erik, but I am behind Philippe now. That is not perfect, but it will be a long and difficult race with this water. Marit is a very good driver and I am pleased for her that she delivered such a great performance.”
Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qemzi belied his lack of F1 experience to set some scintillating lap times and was rewarded with eighth place on the pontoon forFriday’s race.
“I am very happy with that and am trying to push harder for the future. I was inside the top six until near the end, but I could not find any clear water to set a faster time. I will try to push hard in the race.”
Thani Al-Qemzi blotted his copybook early in the morning’s practice session when he spectacularly flipped his DAC and was forced to switch to the spare Team Abu Dhabi boat for qualifying. He will start the race from 15th position.
Al-Qemzi said: “I had a good start this morning in practice and then I crashed. I took the spare boat, but I was not happy with it. The crash had no affect on me but the second boat was not so good for me.”
Etihad Airways is the official carrier for Team Abu Dhabi that is also supported by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and runs under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Khalifa Al-Nahyan, advisor to the Head of State and chairman of the board of directors of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club and under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Sultan Bin Khalifa Al-Nahyan, Vice-President and CEO of the ADIMSC. The racing team runs under the umbrella of the ADIMSC, board member and general manager Salem Al-Remeithi and team manager Guido Cappellini.
Cappellini said: “I am surprised because our boat was faster than this in the private test. I don’t know why. Now we check, engine and propeller. I am not happy for this. We work 20 days to not have this result. Saying that, third place is good and it was important to be in front of Stark. Honestly, we pushed hard for the pole position to win the race. Marit was incredible – one perfect lap, a lap of life! Now, if Alex has a very good start and he stays in first, okay, but, if not, maybe it’s better not to take risks.”
Mohammed Al-Mehairbi slipped to third in the UIM F4-S Trophy standings after finishing third behind Mansoor Al-Mansoori, and Jeremy Brisset in race one. Driving for the Victory Team for the first time, Al-Mansoori now leads the series by seven points with three races remaining. Rashed Al-Romaithi came home in seventh place in the second Team Abu Dhabi Molgaard.
After a cracked sponson sidelined disappointed Swedish rookie Erik Edin before the start, eight of the remaining 20 boats would be eliminated in the opening Q1 session.
Ahmed Al-Hameli and Al-Qemzi switched to spare DACs for the start of the session. Carella opened his account with a lap of 45.52sec, but that was surpassed by a flying Bartek Marszalak, Marit Stromoy, Chiappe and Stark.
A flying Ahmed Al-Hameli topped the timings with a flying last lap of 44.50sec, but rookie Matthew Palfreyman, the French duo of Cedric Deguisne and Amaury Jousseaume, Grant Trask, Francesco Cantandio, Thani Al-Qemzi, Mike Szymura and Duarte Benavente were eliminated. Carella and Rashed Al-Qemzi sneaked through to Q2 in 10th and 12th positions.
A further six boats were eliminated in the 15 minutes of Q2, but the yellow flag was raised in the first minute when Sami Selio and Stark collided, Selio flipped over and Stark continued relatively unscathed.
The session was restarted and Stark stormed to the top of the standings with a lap of 43.80sec. Eventual session winner Chiappe, Stark, Carella, Ahmed Al-Hameli, Marit Stromoy and Shaun Torrente made the two-lap shoot-out, but Selio, Rashed Al-Qemzi, Filip Roms, Marszalak, Peter Morin and Jonas Andersson missed out on Q3.
Torrente was first to run his two hot laps and the American posted the target of 43.77sec and improved with a 43.28sec second lap. Stromoy was aiming for her second career pole and the Norwegian opened with a 43.39sec and set a stunning second lap of 42.89sec to snatch provisional pole. Al-Hameli set a first lap of 44.24sec and improved with a 43.43sec lap, but it was not enough for the Victory Team driver.
Carella’s destiny lay ahead and the Italian carded a first tour of 43.02sec to move into second position and was unable to beat that on his second run. That left Stark and Chiappe to spoil the Stromoy party. The Swede opened with a 43.89sec and moved up to fourth with a 43.47sec second lap. Chiappe opened with a 43.50sec and he snatched pole with a 42.83sec lap to cap a memorable qualifying session and ruin a fairytale story for Stromoy.
Chiappe was quickest in the morning’s one-hour practice session that was marred for Team Abu Dhabi when Thani Al-Qemzi spectacularly flipped his DAC at turn two. The Emirati emerged unscathed from the incident, but it was a setback for the team before BRM qualifying. “Not ideal preparation at all but we have a spare boat,” groaned Cappellini.
The session-winning Frenchman posted a potent lap of 43.58sec five minutes from the end of the session to edge Stark (43.77sec) and Carella (43.81sec) into second and third positions. Only three drivers broke the sub 44-second barrier, but Bartek Marzsalek impressed in fourth place with a lap of 44.28sec after fitting a new engine that arrived from Canada via Warsaw at the 11th hour. Rashed Al-Qemzi (45.27sec) slotted into 10th, but fifth-placed Ahmed Al-Hameli somersaulted his spare BABA at turn four in the last minute and the session finished under a yellow flag.
F4-S – race 1
Young Aussie revelation Louise Vella followed up her fastest lap in Thursday afternoon’s practice with the second fastest time in Thursday morning’s practice behind Jeremy Brisset. She went on to qualify in pole position with a last gasp lap of 1min 01.31sec to pip the Frenchman. Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi and Rashed Al-Romaithi were third and eighth in free practice and qualified in fifth and 10th positions. Series leader Mansour Al-Mansoori switched from the Emirates Racing Team to the Victory Team before race week and was third.
Al-Mansoori made a good start in the 18-lap race and he managed to pass Brisset and Vella to take the lead, as Vella maintained second from Al-Mehairbi and Chiappe returned to the pits on the subsequent lap after a collision with Brisset. But the Australian’s good fortune ran out on the fourth lap when she struck a turn buoy and the yellow flag was raised with Al-Mansoori, Al-Mehairbi and Al-Matlae in an all-Emirati top three.
Racing resumed on lap seven, Al-Mansoori maintained his advantage and Al-Matlae managed to edge passed Al-Mehairbi to make it a Victory 1-2 at the head of the field. Brisset also managed to find a way into third position at the expense of the Team Abu Dhabi driver and he passed Al-Matlae to snatch second. Al-Mansoori extended his series lead to seven points over Brisset and Al-Mehairbi slipped to third in the points’ standings with the final podium place. Vella managed to rejoin the race with a one-lap penalty and gained vital points for ninth position, but Al-Matlae lost out on a possible third place with a one-lap penalty for not maintaining his lane at the start.
Further practice and F4 timed trials are permitted on Friday morning, before F4 race two gets underway at 2pm and the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi fires into life at the Breakwater from 3.30pm.
2017 UIM F1 H2O World Championship – qualifying times (Thursday):
Cédric Deguisne (FRA) Maverick F1 Team DNS
Erik Edin (SWE) Team Sweden DNS
2017 UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Trophy – latest positions:
2017 F4-S Trophy – latest positions:
Tom Chiappe (FRA) Emirates Racing Team 0pt
Timetable of events
Friday, December 8
09.10-09.30 F4 free practice
09.40-10.00 F4 time trials
10.15-11.15 F1 free practice
14.00 F4 race 2
15.30 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi