PORTIMAO, Portugal, 18th May, 2019 (WAM) — Victory Team’s former four-time world champion remained within striking distance at the end of official practice of the 18th Grand Prix of Portugal – the second round on the 2019 UIM F1H2O World Championships – being held in Portimao this week.
With former Team Abu Dhabi pilot Erik Stark leading the way for the full field of 19 drivers with the best lap of 43.10 seconds, Alex Carella pitted in fourth with a quick time of 43.77 seconds. This promises to be an engrossing second round as the top four drivers were within one second of each other heading into Saturday’s final preparations.
Stark ran a full 45 laps for his best time of 43.10 seconds followed by defending world champion Shaun Torrente (43.66 secs) from Team Abu Dhabi and former four-time world champion Philippe Chiappe (43.69 secs) of the CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team in third and Carella in fourth with his best effort of 43.77 secs after 35 laps on the challenging Arade River circuit.
“It’s good to see my boat respond so well,” Carella said from the Algarve region of Portugal.
“For sure, this is going to be a great race going by the times the top drivers have registered during practice. But one never knows what can happen as the weekend progresses. We’ve done well so far and the idea will be to continue with this momentum,” Victory Team’s Italian driver added.
Teams are drivers were denied a chance to open their accounts at the end of March after the opening round – the Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia – had to be cancelled due to bad weather conditions in Dammam.
Victory Team’s second driver Ahmed Al Hameli ended in 10th place with a cautious time of 45.27 secs after nine laps on the 1.937km circuit. “We’ve got to make up for lost time and a lost opportunity,” Al Hameli said.
“Sometimes it is best to keep the best for the operational part of the race. Let us see what the next two days holds for us,” he added.
Meanwhile, Victory Team’s Ahmed Al Fahim topped the practice charts in the F4-S class earlier in the afternoon. Now in his second year with the Dubai outfit, Al Fahim began the day with a best lap of 55.49 seconds, and later improved it to 53.70 seconds to leave fellow Emirati Mohammed Al Muhairbi of Team Abu Dhabi second best with a 55.07 secs lap, while Portuguese Pedro Filipe Fortuna followed in third with a best effort of 56.32 secs.
On Saturday, F1 and F4 drivers will head out to another free practice session each before the first F4 race between 1.55 and 2.15 pm. This will be followed by the F1 Rebellion qualifying session from 2.30 to 3.30 pm.
On Sunday, both F4 and F1 boats have an additional free practice before the second F4 race from 2.40 pm followed by the Grand Prix of Portugal from 3.30 pm.