Happy birthday Philippe Chiappe. On Friday, the Frenchman turned 51 and produced a stunning performance from his first career pole position to stay marginally ahead of second-place finisher Shaun Torrente of Florida and seal his second career UIM F1 H2O World Championship victory at the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi.
CTIC China Team driver Philippe Chiappe earned his second career F1 H2O World Championship victory and moved into the points lead.
The result means that the CTIC China team driver takes a three-point advantage to what promises to a thrilling three-way showdown for the title in Sharjah (UAE) in 27 days (December 19). With Torrente’s Qatar Team teammate Alex Carella finishing fifth, he lost the 10-point lead he held over Chiappe and now Torrente is right in the mix—Chiappe has 50 points, Carella 47 and Torrente 44. Finland’s Sam Selio sits in fourth with 24 points just ahead of rookie Erik Stark with 23.
“We had a wild day,” Philippe said. “We thought this morning that our engine had a real problem since we couldn’t get more than 7,000 rpm out of it. We had to do a lot of creative things to get everything in order for the start and even then I wasn’t 100 percent sure it was perfect. But in the end, it was.
“Now we go to the final race with the lead in the championship and we have to stay at the top of our game in order to stop the two Qatar Team boats in Shaun and Alex or otherwise our dreams won’t be fulfilled.”
Torrente, who has placed second in each of Chiappe’s victories, closed to within a second of the CTIC China Team driver on a couple of occasions, but Chiappe eventually finished 6.57 seconds ahead of the Qatar Team driver. Carella followed Team Abu Dahabi’s Ahmed Al-Hameli and Selio across the line in fifth.
“We are so excited that we are just six points back and will push to the max to make sure we have a say in the title this year,” said Torrente, who collected his second career victory last week and raced in his 20th Grand Prix on Friday. “Remember we were 32 points back a week ago and now we are six, so we are coming.”
Khalid bin Arhama Al-Kuwari, head of formula racing at the Qatar Marine Sports Federation said the course was tough.
“I told the guys the course was tough,” Al-Kuwari said. “We could see that from free practice. We tried our best but it wasn’t our day today. Now we have to go away, regroup and come back and finish first and second in Sharjah.”
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