Friday, 23 September: Italian driver Alex Carella of Team Abu Dhabi was on top of the world, literally, leading the drivers’ championship after the two first rounds of the 2016 UIM F1H2O World Championship with 35 points.
All was looking up for the 31-year-old driver from Piacenza as he earned two straight podiums, taking second at the season's opening round in Dubai in March, then following that up with a win in Evian, France in mid-July.
At the time, his closest pursuer was his ex-teammate Shaun Torrente of the Victory Team, as the American had earned two podiums with a pair of thirds and 24 points. The big surprise was that back-to-back world champion Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC China Team had finished just one of two races and was sitting down in third place and was looking up with 20 points.
Then the wheels started falling off the “cart” for the Italian.
In Portimao, Portugal, Carella qualified third but struggled with the set-up and slipped to fifth while the French driver Chiappe came from fourth to first winning for the second time and moving just two points behind Carella for the top spot of the championship nearing the halfway point of the season.
Early September's event in Northern China saw the Italian once again near the top of the field. He qualified fourth and was pushing at the start eventually battling young Finnish driver Filip Roms for second place, looking to add more breathing room at the top of the drivers’ standings in the process.
Then disaster happened almost in a blink of an eye.
Carella's aggressiveness got the better of him in turn two, as he pinched Roms into the corner and they got together ending their day in a violent collision.
The three-time world champion, who has won four times in just nine starts in the People's Republic, had time to ponder his decision in making his aggressive move, while spending the night in hospital before being released the next day. His mistake dropped him now 10 points back of new points’ leader Chiappe as he heads into next weeks’ Grand Prix in Liuzhou.
With just seven points in his last two races Carella is now chasing the back-to-back world champion for the third straight year and the giant question is, can he regain his “mojo” and confidence in the final three races to overtake the French driver as well as his ex-teammate and win the title for a fourth time since 2011?
Well, the statistics are in his favour with three wins in the last five starts in China, but that's what it is, history. Today is what is important and now we'll see if the driver from Northern Italy has something special once again in China to take that next step for another title with another victory.