Carella's Late Season Charge Earns Him The 2012 Championship!
ABU DHABI - Italian star, Alex Carella, captured his second straight UIM F1H2O World Drivers' Championship Trophy by sliding past series points leader Ahmed Al Hameli at the mid-way point of the 2012 campaign after the Team Abu Dhabi driver's season came to a premature end because of serious illness.
With Al Hameli out Carella took full advantage winning two of the final three races on the calendar. The 27 year-old can now claim two world titles in the last two years in just 21 career F1 starts.
The Qatar Team talent started the season like he wasn't going to repeat with that same magic he had when he earned his title in 2011.
At the opening Grand Prix at his home course in Doha back in March, despite qualifying in a fine second place, mechanical problems forced Alex to start near the end of the line-up of competitors in 16th position.
Carella's new teammate, Shaun Torrente, out-dueled him in the race claiming fourth place at the end of the day despite starting farther back in the 18th spot on the start pontoon. The defending World Champion settled for fifth.
Also joining the Qatar Team for its host event and racing for the only time during the season was local driver and possible future star Khalid Al Shamlan. The 32 year-old who had raced in the F4S and Nations Cup Series qualified in a fine seventh spot while taking home two points after finishing ninth at his home Grand Prix the next day.
Three months later at the season's second race in Kazan, Tatarstan in Russia, Carella's new partner from Florida, Torrente, took his first career pole position with Alex starting second making it the only Qatar Team one-two qualifying performance of the 2012 campaign.
The start of another year of bad luck was about to begin for the American, Torrente. From the start Shaun dropped out of the event on the second lap while in first place giving Alex the lead. Carella held up the Qatar Team banner that day winning the event and earning the first of his well-deserved trio of victories on the season.
"I could see that the season was starting to turn in my direction with this win in Kazan." said the always smiling Italian. "I felt things were coming towards me in a positive way and if I just continued to stay focused another title would come my way with the help of my great Qatar Team crew steering me to achieve my goal."
Round three in Kiev in the month of July, saw Alex out qualified once again by his teammate Torrente who was one spot ahead of him in second. Both were chasing two-time World Champion Sami Selio of the Mad Croc Team at the Grand Prix of Ukraine. Sami's stellar performance earned him his 18th pole position of his career and his first of 2012.
Selio would lead from the point until the race had its first re-start. The always aggressive Torrente, waiting to pounce, made a great move to get around Sami into the lead with the defending World Champion in their shadows not too far back as well.
The 33 year-old driver would be heartbroken once again. While on his way to winning for the first time in his career and with just a few laps remaining, Shaun would end his day with a mechanical problem stopping him on the circuit handing the lead back to Selio, earning his 10th career-win in his only victory of the season.
Alex would reach the podium with a third place in Kiev and then put together two straight dominating performances winning back-to-back from pole in Liuzhou, China and in Abu Dhabi.
The Grand Prix in China would see the driver from Codogno, Italy, move into first place in the drivers' standings while solidifying his second Championship at the next round at the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi in late November.
The 2012 World Champion would finish the season in Sharjah with the title already in his back pocket going out and qualifying sixth but dropping out early with mechanical woes for the only time of the season. Alex ended the year with 79 points, 17 more than anybody else. He is now officially classified in the record books as a multi-time World Champion.
Meanwhile his teammate, Torrente, was disqualified from racing in the final two rounds of the campaign after he was ruled by the UIM officials to have driven dangerously after running into Sami Selio on a race re-start in Liuzhou, China while the two were fighting for a podium position.
The accident effectively ended for Selio, the driver from Helsinki, Finland any serious run for a third world title.
Torrente would finish the season tied for 11th in the Championship with 10 points in the four events he started.
With the Qatar Team looking for a teammate for Carella for the final pair of races in the Emirates, they called on the services of six-time American Champion Terry Rinker to race on the international F1 scene for the first time. The 20-year North American F1 racing veteran holds the world record with seven straight victories in the F1 class but, coming to the UIM F1H2O series was like being a rookie again.
Terry, another driver from Florida, got down to business in a boat he had never sat in before and qualified a fine fifth and finished eighth in the race in Abu Dhabi, a race that saw his new teammate Carella capture his world title in.
The next weekend in Sharjah and feeling more comfortable with his new team, Rinker went out and charged from a sixth starting position to finish runner-up in second spot in the race and the first podium for him on the tour. When the dust had cleared, the five time APBA speed champion finished eighth overall in the drivers' standings with 18 points in just two events entered for the year.
Sami Selio in the meantime, would go on to take a podium third place in Abu Dhabi. He then went out and earned his second 2012 pole and was fifth in Sharjah. Sami's remarkable comeback season saw him finish with 60 points in the drivers' standings.
The overall winners of the much sought after Team Championship went this season to Team Abu Dhabi who took it back from last years' winners the Qatar Team with a 119 to 107 margin of victory.
Lead driver Ahmed Al Hameli started the season with a bang, earning pole and winning right from the start in Doha. He then had two back-to-back savvy performances finishing runner-up both in Kazan from third off the dock to a jaw dropping second after beginning way down in 10th at the start in Kiev.
The 33 year-old from Abu Dhabi was looking strong in his quest for his first world title in his sixth season of racing. He however, was stricken with an illness in late summer that sent him to the famous John's Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland in the USA to start treatments and rehabilitation. His unfortunate illness effectively ended his season with 50 points and fifth in the Championship with three straight podiums in just three starts in 2012.
Ahmed's longtime teammate Thani Al Qamzi was a bit overshadowed by Al Hameli's early success, but came on strong at season's end. The 33 year-old put together three continuous podiums including his first victory of the season and his third in the United Arab Emirates at the Grand Prix of Sharjah.
The 11-year racing veteran, who failed to finish the opening round in Qatar, went on to pick up a pair of back-to-back sixth place results in Kazan and Kiev before turning the season around in a big way and ending his campaign with his seventh career victory, finishing third in the Championship for the second straight year with 60 points.
Two other drivers joined Team Abu Dhabi with Al Hameli going missing for the second half of the season. Hall of Fame member and four-time World Champion Scott Gillman got into a race boat for only the second time in five years.
The Team Manager for Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Federation (ADIMSF) qualified seventh and left from the race at his home circuit in Abu Dhabi with a mechanical issue. He switched boats at the final round in Sharjah finishing the race in seventh after qualifying 13th. The driver from Los Angeles, California finished his brief return to racing with four combined points and 16th in the drivers table.
Joining Scott was Majed Al Mansoori who came over from his Class 1 activity to finish sixth in Liuzhou, China. His final race of the season came at his home Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi where he finished 13th while seeing action for the first time since 2007. Majed was classified 15th with six points for the year. He played his part in a key role to once again send Team Abu Dhabi to the top of the Team Championship in the series.
The CTIC China Team was third in the standings with 75 points on the strength of their French driver Philippe Chiappe. The driver from Northern France finished runner-up in the drivers chase with 62 points in his best season in his 10 years of racing in F1.
Philippe completed every Grand Prix and reached the podium in three events including his career tying best second place finish at the season's opening round at the Grand Prix of Qatar. Chiappe had a pair of thirds in Kazan and Liuzhou along with just missing the podium with fourth's at Kiev and Abu Dhabi.
Philippe was in a three driver battle at the final round in Sharjah with Sami Selio and Thani Al Qamzi just beating out both by two points despite his sixth place finish which marked his lowest classification of the season.
His most momentous event of the year was winning the special President's "Match Race" in Kiev in front of tens- of-thousands of race fans who came out an extra day to see F1 boats drag race side-by-side for a special trophy.
Philippe's teammate all season was Russian driver Stanislav Kurtsenovskiy.
"Stan the Man," who was ninth in the Championship with 13 points is pondering retirement. He has just completed his eighth full year of racing since starting his career back in 2000. The well-liked driver from St. Petersburg finished four times, all in the top ten in 2012, with his best results being a pair of seventh's at his home race in Kazan and at Liuzhou in China back in October.
New upcoming driver for the CTIC group who made a splash in a big way in the final two races of the season was 21 year-old Chinese driver Xiong "Leo" Zi-Wei. The racer from Shenzhen came over from the supporting F4S series qualifying a fine 12th in Abu Dhabi before dropping out early in the event while completing the total distance in Sharjah and ending the day in 11th position.
His "signature moment" of the year came with a spectacular blow-over accident in practice in Sharjah and was one of the video highlights of the season. Expect to see more of the ex-automobile "drifting" star in a race boat in 2013.
The Mad Croc Team was in recovery mode with Sami Selio coming back into the sport after a vicious crash last season in Liuzhou, China ended his racing and started a winter of rehabilitation. His season-long performance ending with a three boat battle for the runner-up spot in the Championship which was more than what was expected by the team as they finished fourth in the Team Championship with 70 points.
Helping Sami was the young upcoming driver Filip Roms, who, at 18 years-old was the youngest driver in the history of the sport to suit up for a F1 event. During the season the student from Espoo, Finland gained more and more confidence and finished with three top ten results in the four races he took the distance.
Filip's best result was a seventh at the opening race in Doha after qualifying 13th. He also had an eighth in China and a ninth in Sharjah to finish tied for 11th overall in the drivers' race with 10 points.
Fifth in the 2012 UIM F1H2O World Team Championship was the Singha F1 Racing organisation led by veteran driver Francesco Cantando of Milan. This 16-year veteran and three-time runner-up in the Championship was sixth overall with 38 points.
Of the five races he completed, Francesco never finished lower than sixth and saved his best for last reaching the podium with a third place performance in Sharjah after starting down in eighth position. The driver who builds his own BLAZE boats qualified a season best sixth twice, first in Kazan but failing to finish and again in Kiev where he was classified fifth.
Francesco, who began racing on the tour back in 1996 when he was a law student, will begin the 2013 season in the cockpit starting his 140th Grand Prix which is fourth all-time in the four decade history of the sport.
Valerio Lagiannella was Francesco's teammate for the fifth season, racing in all but the Kiev event and finishing in 14th position in the points table with six points.
For the driver from Merate, Italy, his best weekend was in Kazan where he qualified 13th and finished eighth. Other top ten performances were in Qatar with a 10th and Liuzhou, China where the 40 year-old finished ninth.
Team Sweden was sixth in the Team Championship with 26 points with four different drivers participating in the 2012 campaign. Leading the way was team veteran Jonas Andersson, the four-time tour winner ending up seventh in the Championship with 26 points in his seventh season of racing.
The driver from Fruvi, Sweden had his best race weekend at the final Grand Prix in Sharjah when he qualified second and finished fourth which turned out to be his third top-five performance of the season in the four races he completed. Other notable events were a fifth in Kazan and a fifth in Abu Dhabi.
Joining Jonas in the team was a myriad of drivers throughout the year beginning with Australian Rhys Coles. The veteran from Sydney started 12th off the dock but failed to finish in Doha in his only appearance of the season. Joining up next was rookie Swedish female Bimba Sjoholm who showed some promise when she also qualified 12th only to crash out early in the Grand Prix of China.
Another rookie, Erik Stark, started the final two events in the Emirates for Team Sweden.
Erik, whose nickname is the "dominator", took control of the F2 series in the last two seasons by winning all but two of their events. Here in F1 he failed to finish either race in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. The driver from Stockholm qualified 18th and then 10th at the last two events. Erik has a great future in the sport.
The American owned group Team Nautica had a disappointing season finishing seventh in the Team Championship with eight points despite a pair of talented drivers in their organisation.
Marit Stromoy of Norway led the team as she struggled to regain the form she had shown a year ago when she captured pole position and led the Grand Prix of Portugal in Portimao. Later in the year she again had a great position off the dock in Abu Dhabi starting in second place. But that was 2011.
In 2012 it turned out to be a "black and white" type of season. The first half was nothing but frustration for this very talented and professional driver on and off the race circuit. The ledger reads three straight failures to finish and no points stretching her DNF numbers to 10 races in a row that went back to last season.
Marit ended the year with nothing but hope and plenty of smiles. She put together three straight races in the points column for this 35 year-old performer and entertainer from Oslo with her best being a seventh place finish in Abu Dhabi.
Her teammate is the oldest driver in the sport, Rinaldo Osculati. "Rini" spent all season struggling with set-up and performance gremlins and failing to earn any points during the campaign. Thus, sadly, for the first time in a couple of seasons he finished the year with a zero on his scorecard. He came closest at the final round with a 12th place position in Sharjah.
Both drivers are expected to return in 2013.
The F1 Atlantic Team finished eighth in the team numbers table with their three boat squad.
Earning the most points individually was Kuwaiti rookie driver Youssef Al Rubayan who came over from F2 late last season and finished tenth in the championship this year with 11 points.
Despite finishing just two races all season, Youssef had his best weekend at the Grand Prix of China when he qualified sixth and finished a career best fifth in Liuzhou. His all-time qualifying effort came at Kiev when he managed a fine fourth, finishing seventh in the Grand Prix. Only his three DNF's combined with his crash in Abu Dhabi marred a promising first full season in F1.
Portuguese veteran Duarte Benavente tied for a disappointing 17th position in the Championship with just two points. The likeable driver from Lisbon who has now raced in 13 full campaigns tied for his lowest finishing position.
Despite switching boats during the season, Duarte's bad luck continued. He failed to start the last race in Sharjah, combined with a disqualification in Doha at the first event and two more DNFs at Grands Prix in 2012.
Duarte's two finishes were both in the top 10 with a ninth in Kiev and a 10th in Abu Dhabi.
The third member of the Atlantic Team was French driver Philippe Tourre. The veteran, in his fifth season, was tied with Duarte with two total points in 17th position in the standings. His best afternoon came in his only finish with a ninth place after qualifying 11th in Kazan.
The well liked driver from Paris started four events and dropped out with mechanical issues in three of these races.
The newest full time team on the circuit comes from South Africa as the Caudwell Racing organisation continues development of a new concept for the UIM F1 H2O tour.
During the 2012 season they continually updated their boats entering their newest second generation machine for the final two events in the Emirates to some success.
Signature driver Ivan Brigada of Italy, a race winner on the tour with a Grand Prix victory in Doha back in 2006, earned the first point for the team in their first full season of racing with a fine 10th place finish at the final race in Sharjah.
The 32 year-old driver from Mede, Italy, qualified a season best 14th in Kiev but couldn't bring it home.
South African star driver, in his rookie season in international F1 competition, Brett Stuart, did well running the older design boat in Abu Dhabi. He then lost out on racing the final event of the year when the boat broke up early in the Sharjah weekend. The Johannesburg driver failed to finish the first three events of the season however he did improve with a fine 12th place performance in China just missing out on points.
For Team Manager Kevin Delaney and the rest of the hard working crew of the Caudwell Team this Championship point at the last race was the breakthrough this team was hoping for as they continue to plan for 2013.
Jay Price, the well respected and well-liked 2008 World Champion, returned to F1 for the final two races of the season in the Emirates. His team, Skydive Dubai, did their best putting together a program in very little time using a boat and engine combination that constantly needed tweaking at both events.
The 11-time race winner from New Orleans, Louisiana qualified 11th and failed to finish dropping out early in the Abu Dhabi event.
The following weekend Jay had fun out qualifying his ex-Qatar Team mate with a fine third place effort in Sharjah. Race day wasn't as successful for the veteran driver, with steering problems leading to a get together with another competitor and failing to finish for his second straight race.
Given a full off season to prepare this Victory based team from Dubai could be a factor for 2013 if given the opportunity to perform at a high level.
The eleventh and final team to take part in the 2012 UIM F1 H2O World Championship was headed by boat designer and two-time UIM F1 World Champion, Jonathan Jones of Wales. With the help of longtime builder and friend David Burgess the Dragon F1 Team introduced their new hull with UK driver Malcolm Goodman at the controls for the two races in the Emirates.
Back in the series for the first time since 2009, Malcolm qualified 15th in both races but failed to finish in either Grand Prix.
The tally sheet for the 29th season of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship Tour saw 28 competitors from 16 nations and five different continents take to the 10 month quest to become World Drivers Champion in the most prestigious inshore catamaran series on the planet.
With 2012 marking the largest array of drivers and teams and engine combinations in the championship for the past few years and moving forward with new venue's on the way for 2013, the UIM F1 H2O World Championship series is growing in stature and notoriety year after year, continually leading the way in nautical racing entertainment throughout the world.
All the updated news leading up to the new season can be followed by going to the series official website at www.f1h2o.com.
|UIM F1H2O World Championship|
|CHN||Zhu Hai||Oct 7||TBC|
|UAE||Abu Dhabi||Dec 11||C|
|UIM Nations Cup|
|date and venue could be changed|
|Grand Prix of Sharjah|
|02||Alex Carella||+ 6.55 secs|
|03||Shaun Torrente||+ 13.41 secs|