This morning’s news that Mercury Racing is launching a new four-stroke V-8 outboard engine called 360 APX for the F1H2O World Championship International tunnel-boat racing circuit has the powerboat-racing world buzzing, especially within the nine-team series. To learn a bit more about the 360-hp creation, which is exclusive to qualified Formula One tunnel boat teams, we caught up with two-time, back-to-back defending F1H2O world champion Shaun Torrente.
Shaun Torrente and the entire Team Abu Dhabi crew is eager to start working with the new 360 APX from Mercury Racing. Photo courtesy Arek Rejs/F1H2O
Here’s what the Florida-based member of Team Abu Dhabi had to say.
Will the 360 APX have an immediate impact on the sport?
I think the 360 APX will have an immediate impact as far as our plans for the future and how we are going to implement it. Obviously with the pandemic, things have been pushed back a bit. Our teams over there haven’t been able to incorporate it—we were supposed to test it already but obviously with the pandemic, the timeline changed. We’re just working on it now.
Looking at the engine package itself, what are its strengths as a racing engine?
I think the biggest strength of the engine is the environmental impact. Being a four stroke it should be much cleaner for the environment. The longevity of the powerhead itself should be much, much better than what we have now, considering what we have now only lasts four hours. Basically after a single race we have to replace pistons, rods and crankshaft. It’s very labor intensive and very expensive, so I think longevity will be the biggest thing.
Have you spoken with your Team Abu Dhabi teammates and fellow competitors about it? If so, what’s the general feeling/consensus toward the engine?
We speak all the time about the new engine. We spoke it about 20 or 30 times over the last year even before the pandemic as it was being developed. We’ve spoken to other competitors with mixed emotions, they feel it will be more cost-effective and a better business model long-term.
Said the two-time F1H2O champion, “The longevity of the powerhead itself should be much, much better than what we have now.”
Were you and your teammates involved with the development of the 360 APX?
So it was very important for Mercury Racing to make sure they did not look like they were playing favorites in any way, so I never did a test with it at all. I was given some very generic impressions and that was it. Our main role with Mercury was to provide data. Their engineering team did a wonderful job of talking with the team and they leaned on our team quite a bit because our data is very good. We provided a lot of data of what we currently run so they could know that they were in the ballpark with the new engine and also understand failure modes and those sort of things. And how the motor is going to be truly used.
They were great about asking questions and issues we had with current and mid-sections and so on. They’ve been really, really good about that. So that was my role, really, just to provide information. I provided a lot of information but didn’t get a lot of information back.
Do you foresee significant changes to acceleration, top speed and handling with the new power?
For sure there will be changes. I don’t think top speed and acceleration will be hugely different.
Your sport is precise. Do anticipate a learning curve with the 360 APX?
Absolutely, there will be a huge learning curve with anything like this, and in fact one of the most important things we can do is to test and understand that learning curve, because the guys who can figure it out first are going to be the ones who can capitalize on the change.
Editor’s note: A member of the speedonthewater.com test team that includes Grant Bruggemann and John Tomlinson, Shaun Torrente also contributes of column to Speed On The Water digital magazine.