Sunday, 1 October, LIUZHOU (China): Alex Carella pushed himself to the absolute limits of exhaustion to take a sensational victory in today’s UIM F1H2O Grand Prix in Liuzhou.
The Team Abu Dhabi driver was near to collapse at the end of the gruelling 48 lap race, the extreme heat and oppressive humidity clearly taking its toll. “I think I give 99 per cent and leave one to get out of the boat,” he said. “It was a hard weekend, a bit of stress a bit of everything and important for the team that we got this result. This is the first time I drive this new boat in a race and it is fantastic. The engine the set-up the whole package was incredible.”
Today’s win, the 14th of Carella’s career and his second of the season, extends his lead in the championship standings to 16 points with Abu Dhabi moving further ahead in the Teams’ Championship.
Second place went to Sweden’s Erik Stark who described the race as ‘one of the hardest of his life’, with defending champion Philippe Chiappe coming home in third place for CTIC F1 Shenzhen China.
Carella led from pole and for the opening laps absorbed the early pressure from Stark before opening out a comfortable lead. But his hard work was undone on lap 14 when the yellow flag was raised to replace a drifting turn buoy allowing the chasing boats to close up.
He made no mistake on the restart and again held off Stark and was then able to dictate the pace for the remainder of the race and go on to take the win by 4.47seconds.
Despite all his efforts and the race long pressure he applied, Stark was unable to get close enough to force an error out of race leader Carella and following him home to take his second podium of the season to move up into second place in the title race. “I have never raced in such conditions. The heat inside the boat was incredible,” said Stark. “I pushed as hard as I could but could not close the gap.”
Philippe Chiappe trailed Ahmed Al Hameli up until lap 14 but took full advantage of the yellow flag, making the telling pass two laps after the restart to secure the final podium slot to keep in touch in the title race in third spot. “I was a little cautious at the start but then I started to push a little and after the restart I had very good pace.” he said. “It was my first race in this boat and to finish on the podium is very good.”
Shaun Torrente produced one of the drives of the afternoon after starting from tenth and was another to take advantage of the yellow flag situation. He was up into seventh when the flag was raised and from the restart immediately passed Jonas Andersson, whose race came to a premature end on lap 37, and then set about chasing down Marit Stromoy, passing her on lap 36, Stromoy’s race ending on lap 40 when her engine let go, Torrente running out the race in fifth behind his teammate.
Thani Al Qemzi completed the top six, with Mike Szymura producing his best performance and result since moving up into the top-flight from the F4-S Championship to finish in seventh after passing his former F4 rival Rashed Al Qemzi, who again missed out on his first championship points finishing in eleventh.
Bartek Marszalek made up places from starting in 14th to finish in eighth ahead of Filip Roms, with Francesco Cantando overcoming a difficult weekend to take a point in tenth.
For full classifications: http://f1h2o.com/results/2017/grand-prix-of-liuzhou-china/f1h2o