French racer Philippe Chiappe, the defending Union Internationale Motonautique F1 H2O world champion, drove his CTIC China Moore raceboat to a convincing victory at the 14th Grand Prix of Portugal in front of more than 100,000 race fans along the Douro River in Porto. Chiappe chased leader and pole-sitter Sami Selio of Finland for the first 10 laps of the 34-lap event then left the rest of the field behind to win his first race of the season on Sunday.
Philippe Chiappe of France won the 14th Grand Prix of Portugal on Sunday. Photo courtesy Simon Palfrader/Idea Marketing
After making a strong pass on the outside of the back straight going into turns five and six to pass two-time world champ Selio in his Mad Croc Baba Racing boat, the driver from Rouen never looked back en route to picking up his fourth career victory.
“We had a great race,” Chiappe said. “It’s such a great feeling after losing a possible victory in France a month ago. We were determined to get it right this time around and boy am I happy as we are right back at the top of the championship heading to China.”
Chiappe now trails American Shaun Torrente of the Victory Team by just one point in the drivers world championship points standing heading into the next two rounds in China in early October.
Torrente, who was coming out of what he thought was a successful testing session, said he was happy to escape the race in fifth place after struggling to get his Baba Racing boat running ideally in the rough racing conditions.
Competing in his second race with Victory Team, Florida’s Shaun Torrente finished fifth. Photo courtesy Simon Palfrader/Idea Marketing
For Selio, things went from bad to worse. With his throttle cable sticking less than full speed, he and Alex Carella of Team Abu Dhabi were battling side by side for second place when Selio slowed and was hit by Carella sending his boat airborne and finally barrel rolling to a stop. Selio was OK, but frustrated.
“We had the speed and package to win but little things can play a factor and it took our dreams away with it,” said the driver from Helsinki. “We’ll be ready to charge in China in two months—it’s not over by any means for us.”
Finishing runner-up was Swedish driver Erik Stark from the Emirates Team, who started fourth and didn’t give up all day staying right in the hunt for a podium finish. On the restart after the Selio accident brought out the yellow flag, Stark pushed hard to get past Carella and hold him off for the final few laps.
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