The winner of the last Union Internationale Motonautique F1 H2O World Championship—the Grand Prix of London—Swedish driver Erik Stark has agreed to join the formidable Team Abu Dhabi duo of Thani Al-Qemzi and Shaun Torrente to create a distinguished three-driver lineup heading into this weekend’s Grand Prix of France at Évian-les-Baines in Southeastern France.
After winning with Maverick Racing Team in London two weeks ago, Erik Stark is joining Team Abu Dhabi in time for the third round of the F1 H2O World Championship in France this weekend. Photos courtesy Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club
The third round of the F1 H2O World Championship, which features a six-pin, 2.08-kilometer course on Lac Leman in France’s Rhône-Alpes region, comes just two weeks after Stark claimed a victory for the Maverick Racing Team at London’s Royal Victoria Dock to move into title contention behind three-time world champion Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team and Team Abu Dhabi’s Al-Qemzi.
Torrente, the Florida native and winner of the opening round of the series in Portugal, suffered a disappointing outing in London and trails Stark by one point in fourth place. Stark’s signing means that Rashed Al-Qemzi, the defending UIM F2 world champion, is going to concentrate solely on defending his F2 crown along with any UIM World Endurance Championship responsibilities.
“I’m very excited to be part of Team Abu Dhabi,” Stark told speedonthewater.com. “This has been a dream of mine for more than 10 years—it really feels amazing. At the moment I’m in Italy setting up the boat with the team, and the welcome I’ve received is truly over the limits. I’ve already learned new things and I’m sure there’s more to come. I can’t wait to get to work with Guido Cappellini (team manager) and the rest of the team.”
Torrente, who finished third in France last year, said it’s awesome to have Stark, who Torrente has considered a friend for many years, on the team.
“Erik is a great driver and we can keep learning from each other and keep pushing each other,” Torrente said. “I am looking forward to this. I need to learn from the mistakes in London and go to France and get back on track. We have everything we need to be successful and now I need to go and do it. I have a good track record in France. I have been close to wins. Hopefully I can settle it up this time.
“London was a very disappointing weekend for me but at least Thani salvaged points for the team,” he continued. “How it finished wasn’t actually terrible though. I am only seven points off the lead (Chiappe has 27 to Torrente’s 20) and Thani is only three off the lead. The way I look at it is just to move on. The boat went back to DAC to be repaired.”
The testing and qualifying on Lac Leman start Saturday followed by a Sunday a.m. practice session leading up to the Grand Prix of France at 3 p.m. local time.
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