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F1 H2O Season Begins with Exciting Racing at Inaugural Grand Prix of Dubai

On Friday, French driver and two-time defending world champion Philippe Chiappe rocketed off from the start and led each of the 48 laps to win the inaugural Grand Prix of Dubai at the opening round of the 2016 Union Internationale Motonautique F1 H2O World Championship held along the inner city lagoon in front of thousands of United Arab Emirates fans.

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Two-time defending F1 H2O champion Philippe Chiappe got the jump on the rest of the competition by winning the 2016 season opener. Photo by Vittorio Ubertone/Idea Marketing

The CTIC F1 China Team driver made a clean start and was being pushed hard from start-to-finish by Team Abu Dhabi driver Alex Carella. The three-time champion from Italy tried every which way to find an avenue to slide into a strong position to challenge through traffic, but it never happened with Chiappe holding point and winning for the sixth time in his career.

“It was a great way to start the season and a great day for my team, as my young teammate ‘Leo’ Xiong finished fifth for the best run in his career,” said Chiappe, who hails from Rouen. “The restart was no problem as we had clear water, but the final few laps and a lot of traffic on this small 1.96-kilometer race circuit forced me to make every move a smart one in the final moments with Alex hovering right behind. It worked out in the end and it’s nice to go home with 20 points in the bank heading to my home race in Evian, France in mid-July.”

Second-place driver Carella was like a shadow to Chiappe, but couldn’t get close enough to challenge the leader at the end. “I tried everything I could to find a way to get close to him,” said Carella, whose teammate—Thani Al Qamzi—qualified sixth but dropped out early on the seventh lap. “I’m hoping we can find that little bit extra in France and this time take the victory.”

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From left: Carella, Chiappe and Torrente pose for more pictures following the podium ceremony after the F1 H2O season opener in Dubai. Photo by Simon Palfrader/Idea Marketing

Representing the local community, Victory Team driver Shaun Torrente of Florida had to claw and scratch his way to the podium with a third-place finish after starting fifth. The American finally passed fourth-place Jonas Andersson of Team Sweden on a nifty move on the restart at the two-thirds mark of the race earning him 12 valuable points for the organization that is based in Dubai.

“Yeah, I battled with Jonas all day long,” Torrente said. “We had great fun and I really enjoyed the restart. I’m worn out but satisfied with a podium start to the season. The new boat is getting there—there’s still more work to do.”

Thirteen of the 18 starters finished the event as the series now takes a spring recess before heading to Evian in France for the second round of the F1H2O World Championship on July 15-17.

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