The Team Abu Dhabi crew enjoyed a perfect start to the 2022 Union Internationale Motonautique F1H2O World Championship today as Floridian Shaun Torrente delivered a victory at the Grand Prix of France in Macon Val de Saone with teammate Thani Al Qemzi finishing second.
Shaun Torrente took the checkered flag at the Grand Prix of France to open the F1H2O World championship season. Photos courtesy Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club.
Torrente—the world champion in 2018 and 2019—capitalized for his 10th career Grand Prix title when Team Sharjah’s Sami Selio, who earned the pole position in Saturday’s qualifying, dramatically came to a halt after completing 37 of the race’s 60 laps.
“It is great to start the season as a winner,” Torrente stated in an F1H2O press release. “It was a difficult race—the circuit is narrow and it was very windy with rough waves. Thanks to the great job of my team, I was able to control my boat and take the victory.”
According to a press release from Team Abu Dhabi, which is backed by the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club, the team’s two drivers set off in the second and third positions with the aim of piling the pressure on Selio. More than halfway through the race, the Finnish two-time world champion was ultimately denied his first Grand Prix victory since 2016 by mechanical problems.
Thani Al Qemzi (left) and Shaun Torrente (right) celebrated their triumph with team manager Guido Cappellini.
The podium finish, which included third-place finisher Peter Morin of the China CTIC Team, marked the second successive one-two start to an F1H2O season by Team Abu Dhabi, following Al Qemzi’s victory ahead of Torrente in Italy last year. The result underlined the team’s status as favorites for a fifth world team title, and suggested that the two teammates could go on to battle it out to decide this year’s individual F1H2O driver’s crown.
With tens of thousands of spectators—basking in the sunshine—lining the banks of the Saone River circuit in Macon, Selio made a confident start in his pursuit of a 13th career Grand Prix win.
Portugal’s Duarte Benavente became the first race casualty when he went out with mechanical problems on lap 17, and 20 laps later Selio’s departure saw Torrente move into a lead that he never relinquished.
France’s Philippe Chiappe, one of only three drivers in F1H2O history to have claimed a trio of world titles, also endured frustration as he plummeted down the field with a broken propeller on lap 51.
With his third-place result, Morin become the first Frenchman to secure a podium finish in his home Grand Prix event. Finnish rookie Alec Weckstrom finished fourth in Macon ahead of Sweden’s reigning world champion, Jonas Andersson. Norway’s Marit Stromoy rounded out the top six.
Next stop for the F1H2O World Championship is San Nazzaro, Italy, where back-to-back Grand Prix races take place on the Po River on July 16-17.
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