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American Hopeful Torrente Readies for Opener in Qatar

With the departure of New Orleans driver Jay Price—one of the most successful Americans to ever compete in the Union International Motonautique (UIM) F1 H2O World Championship—another American hopeful, Shaun Torrente, is looking to fill Price’s shoes by representing the United States overseas. The Miami resident will begin his second season on the international circuit this weekend at the Grand Prix of Qatar in Doha Bay.

After finishing the 2011 season with the Qatar Team, Miami's Shaun Torrente joins the team again for the 2012 F1 H2O World Championship season..

After finishing the 2011 season with the Qatar Team, Miami’s Shaun Torrente joins the team again for the 2012 F1 H2O World Championship season, which starts this weekend.Torrente, who began the 2011 season with Team Sweden but finished the final two races in the Qatar Team’s third boat, will be taking Price’s place as a member of the Qatar Team, joining the reigning world champion Alex Carella of Italy. The team is fielded by the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF), which runs under the presidency of His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani.

“I’m truly blessed to have such a great opportunity with a great organization—this is a dream come true,” said Torrente in a brief conversation from his hotel in Qatar. “I’ve been out here for about a week working with the team and getting to know everyone. Unfortunately it’s been a little windy so we’ve only been able to get in a little bit of testing.

“The coolest thing is that I don’t have to worry about a thing, just driving,” he added. “That takes a lot of pressure off. I’m sure I’ll feel some pressure when it comes down to it this weekend, but in all honesty, I had way more pressure last year just trying to make sure everything was coordinated and whether I could even afford to race. That is hardly the case here. Alex and I joke about it, but we are getting treated like kings around here.”

Torrente’s primary sponsor from 2011—Peters & May—announced this week that it will assume a prominent role with the QMSF’s F1 team in its efforts to secure a 2012 UIM world title.

“For a global company such as ours, the opportunity to associate with a truly global race team is inspiring,” Peters & May CEO David Holley said in a press release. “We have high hopes for the 2012 season.”

In his first full season with the Qatar Team, Torrente has high hopes for 2012.In his first full season with the Qatar Team, Torrente has high hopes for 2012.Khalid bin Arhama Al-Kuwari, head of formula racing at QMSF, said the organization is grateful for sponsors like Peters & May that share the common goal of winning a championship.

“I am pleased and confident in our team lineup,” Al-Kuwari said. “With us are an Italian world champion, an American that has full potential to gain a world title and, of course, our brother from Qatar who has the passion to bring pride to our beloved country.”

Al-Kuwari was referring to Qatar’s Khaled Saleh Al Shamlan, who will continue to represent the Qatar Team in the UIM F-4S category.

The Qatar organization has shared success in the last two Grand Prix of Qatar races—Price won them both and Carella finished second in 2011—but that doesn’t mean the team won’t have its work cut out for it this weekend. Team Abu Dhabi, which dominated the final half of the 2011 season, is hoping it can strike gold in Qatar with drivers Thani Al Qamzi, who finished third a year ago, and Ahmed Al Hameli, who won two of his last four starts in 2011.

The 10th Grand Prix of Qatar begins with an hour-long qualifying session on Friday, followed by the Grand Prix action on Saturday (6:45 a.m. EST). You can follow all the racing action live at www.f1h2o.com.