Mad Croc BABA Racing’s Sami Selio will start Friday’s Grand Prix of China, round 4 of the UIM F1H2O World Championship, in P4 after a dramatic qualifying session on the River Liu which saw Sweden’s Erik Stark and CTIC China’s Xiong Ziwei both crashing out.
The two incidents heavily disrupted the second of three scheduled official qualifying sessions and then with the conditions deteriorating UIM race director Luis Ribeiro called time on proceedings and took the decision not to carry the Q3 top-six shoot out over until race day morning, with the times set in Q2 determining the starting line-up.
After cruising through the first 20 minute session posting the fifth fastest time, Selio looked to be well-placed for a shot at pole from fourth place with a time of 51.39s around the 2000 metre six-pin circuit and just seven-tenths off Chiappe when the chequered flag was given.
And despite being denied the opportunity to go for a 24th career pole position Selio was upbeat about the day’s outcome and optimistic that he can challenge strongly in the Grand Prix. “The conditions were terrible, the winds, waves and a very strong current. There were chances when things improved slightly but I missed the opportunities so I couldn’t push as much as I normally would do. But I am happy the boat is still the right way up, we didn’t risk too much and can still go for the race win tomorrow.” he said, adding. “It all depends on the start, if I get it right we have a chance but right now I am not sure about the set-up. We changed the engine after practice and it is good and the race will be longer than normal so we will see what the conditions are like in the morning.”
With Selio’s number one boat out of action this weekend after his enforced accident in Portugal and still under repair the double world champion and 22 time race winner stepped back into his old hull and used yesterday’s unofficial practice and today’s sessions to re acquaint himself with its characteristics. “We have had to play around a bit getting it set up but the boat is good and it handles well and things have gone well. The only real issue we had was the engine.”
Success in tomorrow’s race for Selio will all hinge on the start and making up places on the run to the first turn, inside him will be Yousef Al Rubayan, Thani al Qamzi and pole-sitter Phlippe Chiappe.