If qualifying for the Grand Prix of Qatar had a familiar look about it, with the grid comprising of last years top performing drivers then Sami Seliö, the lead driver for the Mad-Croc BaBa Racing Team was desperately hoping the similarity would end there, bizarrely though it didn’t when for the second year running he was out of the race with barely a lap on the board.
Following the morning warm up session, Jonas Andersson was forced into changing his race engine when it broke on the very first lap. This dropped the unfortunate Swede from his well deserved pole position right to the back of the grid. In doing so Seliö inherited the number one spot. As the red lights went out the Finn was immediately in trouble.
In the confusion both Alex Carella and Shaun Torrente scythed past Seliö who came out of the first turn back in third place. France’s Philippe Chiappe was breathily ahead of him before Seliö re-took third place.
“My initial thoughts were ok the start was not one of my best but I found the speed to get back past Chiappe so let’s see whether I could close the gap on Carella.”
Unfortunately for Seliö the answer was not today as his engine cried enough and he was left stranded on the inside of the course. He wouldn’t be the only one taking an ‘early bath’ as soon joining him on the retirement list was Andersson followed by his fellow Swede Erik Stark, who after taking three UIM F2 World Championship titles has now decided to race the F1H2O series. These three Scandinavian drivers would soon be joined on the sidelines by the Kuwaiti racer Youssef Al Rubayan.
With just nine laps to go it looked like the Qatar team would be claiming the top two spots on the podium but it was not to be. As Torrente was heading down the back straight his cockpit hatch flew up into the air. Unbeknown to the spectators the American driver had a power steering failure which had caused a small fire, this had filled his cockpit with smoke obscuring his vision. Fortunately he was just about able to get back to the pits where several mechanics gathered on the pontoon managed to deal with the fire.
This left Carella to score his first ‘home’ victory for the Qatar Team with Chiappe taking second and Portugal’s Duarte Benavente finishing third. As Seliö made his way back to the pits he was fairly philosophical about his early exit.
“There are at least three more races on the calendar so yes it’s going to be tough but the season is not over yet” he said. “The really positive thing is that my team-mate Filip Roms drove a great race, he really did what we all knew he was capable of. All last month he’s been away doing his National Service with the Finnish Army and when he arrived here he had a very bad bout of flu that’s seen him in bed for the last couple of days. To get out of his sick bed and produce a performance like that was just tremendous and bodes well for his future in the sport.”
Result for the F1H2O Grand Prix of Qatar
1. Alex Carella QAT Qatar Team 40 laps
2. Philippe Chiappe FRA CTIC China Team 39 laps
3. Duarte Benavente POR F1 Atlantic Team 38 laps
4. Francesco Cantando ITA Motorglass F1 Team 38 laps
5. Filip Roms FIN Mad-Croc BaBa Racing Team 38 laps
6. Marit Stromoy NOR Team Nautica 37 laps
7. Xiang Ziwei CHN CTIC China Team 36 laps
8. Bartek Marszalek POL Motorglass F1 Team 36 laps
9. Shaun Torrente USA Qatar Team 31 laps
10. Youssef Al Rubayan KUW F1 Atlantic Team 4 laps