Saturday, 3 September HARBIN (China): Two-time World Champion Sami Selio led his team to a brilliant one-two qualifying effort at the Grand Prix of Harbin in the Q3 Top-Six Shootout session of the official B.R.M. Qualifying at the fourth round of the 2016 UIM F1H2O World Championship.
The 42-year-old driver from Helsinki, first watched his young 22-year-old teammate Filip Roms throw down a brilliant 36.64 second lap around the 1.6 kilometer (one mile) race circuit at the Hulan Estuary Wetland Park just outside the city of Harbin in north-east China, knowing he would have to beat his one-time student in order to get his 25th career pole position.
Selio wasted little time and did just that on the very first lap with a scintillating 36.60 time setting a speed of 201.64kph defeating his BABA Racing teammate by four one-hundreds of a second and earning his seventh pole in China in his 17 race starts in the People's Republic. “We had a terrific set-up and picked the perfect propeller for this short circuit,” said Selio. “I've truly had my ups and downs in China and feel great now that I have back to back poles in 2016 and feel we are starting to realize that great things are hopefully on our way for the rest of the year.
“We will take this one at a time and with my teammate Filip alongside, I couldn't be prouder of him and his progress that he's made this year. We are all one big family on this team and success-breeds-success. Hopefully tomorrow too.”
For the young Roms who will be starting just his 27th career Grand Prix, he bettered his best qualifying performance in a big way by claiming, his best previous performance a pair of eighth place starts in Doha back in 2014. “I'm really starting to feel great with my boat this year and the team has been really pushing me and I am starting to feel the confidence that is needed to be consistent race after race and will be fighting for my first win of my career tomorrow.”
Jonas Andersson of Team Sweden made it an all Scandinavian B.R.M. Podium on Saturday missing the pole by just .25 of a second while running a 200.27kph lap as he hopes to earn his fifth career victory and his first in 49 race starts.
World points leader Alex Carella of Team Abu Dhabi was hoping to take full advantage of Q3 and the shootout after his two nearest pursuers, Philippe Chiappe of France and Shaun Torrente of America, both suffered with electrical and engine problems forcing Chiappe to start down in 15th tomorrow and Torrente looking up in eighth position.
The four-time Grand Prix of China winner will start fourth after running a 36.90 second lap as he holds down his two point advantage in the championship and hoping to increase this by staying ahead of both drivers tomorrow in the race.
Fifth went to Swedish driver Erik Stark in his Emirates Team DAC hull staying one boat in front of his very disappointed teammate Ahmed Al Hameli.
The veteran driver from Abu Dhabi thought he had the pole recording a 36.25 time which was .35 of a second faster than Selio's, only to learn that his time was disallowed for going outside the designed course. His actions dropped him down to sixth on the starting grid for tomorrow, and losing out on what he thought was his 10th career pole.
EMIC Team driver Marit Stromoy of Norway will start seventh on the start dock missing out on reaching the Q3 session by three one-hundreds of a second, just ahead of Torrente who sits eighth.
Portugal veteran Duarte Benavente of F1 Atlantic Team continues to put together a solid season and will start ninth just ahead of two-time China winner Thani Al Qamzi who rounded out the top ten with a 38.64 and a speed of 190.99kph for Team Abu Dhabi.
On the short circuit with space a premium six different drivers were penalized their fast laps for crossing the exit lane in Q2 including Al Qamzi, Benavente, Torrente, Leo Xiong, Andersson and Christophe Larigot affecting their best efforts in moving into Q3. Only Jonas Andersson was able to reach the Top-Six Shootout in Q3.
The fourth round of the 2016 UIM F1H2O World Championship will take place tomorrow, 4 September at 15:00 local, 07:00 UTC and 03:00 EDT on the East Coast of North America with 18 drivers expected to take part in what will be the first of two back-to-back Grand Prix in the People's Republic.