Sweden’s Jonas Andersson did everything in his power in his bid to earn his first Union Internationale Motonautique F1H2O World Championship with a lap-perfect drive to win the Grand Prix of Sharjah, only to have the title snatched from his grasp on the final lap by defending champion Shaun Torrente, who is from Florida.
America’s Shaun Torrente (below, click to enlarge) finished second at the F1 H2O Grand Prix of Sharjah to win back-to-back world championships for Team Abu Dhabi. Photos courtesy Vittorio Ubertone/F1 H2O
Going into the season finale with a five-point deficit and starting from the pole with his Team Abu Dhabi title rival in fifth, a victory for Andersson with Torrente finishing in third would have given him the title—and that is how the pair ran for 44 of 45 laps with CTIC F1’s Philippe Chiappe the man in the middle.
But halfway through the final lap, Chiappe—France’s three-time world champion—slowed with a trim issue and Torrente snatched second place in the dying moments of the race, following Andersson across the finishing line six seconds later to retain the title.
Andersson and Torrente finished the season tied at 79 points each with Torrente winning on a countback—both drivers won two races during the season but the American claimed his second successive championship because he recorded one more second-place finish than his Swedish counterpart. It was the first time in the championship’s 36-year history that the world title has been decided on a countback.
There were jubilant scenes beside Khalid Lagoon as Team Abu Dhabi hailed another driver’s title for Torrente, who plunged into the water to celebrate, but also another world team championship.
“I was pushing like crazy, but we have been through so much with that motor this week,” said Torrente. “Every time we took the boat off the water we had to fix something. We tried to keep it quiet in the paddock that we had a hurt engine, which we damaged in qualifying, and the team did everything to make sure it got me round. It was only an hour before the race that we decided not to change it, roll the dice and go with it.
“In the last five laps it was down on power, but I just kept pushing as hard as I could, hoping,” he continued. “When I came down the front straight I saw his (Chiappe’s) motor bobble and I could tell something was wrong. I thought, no way—I couldn’t believe it. I’m just glad I made it home. We didn’t have our best bullet this week, but we still got second place, somehow, some way. And that’s just down to this team for working so hard. They never stopped. I’m just blessed to be with them.”
Torrente paid tribute to Andersson, adding, “Jonas had an amazing season. I feel for him. He was 40 seconds from being world champion. He did everything he could do, but so did I, and I just got lucky at the end.”
Team Sweden’s Jonas Andersson did everything he could on Saturday at the Grand Prix of Sharjah to put himself in position to win his first F1 H2O championship. Photo by Simon Palfrader/F1 H2O
Of course Andersson was frustrated with the outcome.
“Sure it is nice to get the win but this was my chance for the championship and it doesn’t come every year,” Andersson said. “I am very disappointed. I was fast all race and in the end to win but lose out when you have the same points is hard to take.”
Poland’s Bartek Marszalek produced his best drive of the year—and his career—moving up from ninth off the dock to take third for his first podium finish.
“This is a great result and we deserve it after so many years,” Marszalek said. “It was our time and place, and I am confident I will be able to repeat this moment. This is a Christmas present for my dad, the team and my family.”
Fourth place went to Torrente’s teammate, Thani Al Qemzi, who also finished fourth in the overall points championship, with Team Sharjah’s Sami Selio picking up his best result of the season in fifth ahead Chiappe, who fell to sixth place.
F1 Atlantic’s Alberto Comparato matched his best finish of the season in seventh, as did Victory’s David Del Pin in eighth with Cedric Deguisne picking up his first points of the season in ninth as the last of the finishers.
Alex Carella provided the most dramatic exit on the list of retirees with 10 of the 18 starters failing to go the distance. Carella’s crash on the seventh lap brought out the first yellow flag—the second was waved on lap 14 while the rescue team replaced a damaged turn buoy.
Despite her retirement on lap 23 after running in the top six, Emirates Racing’s Marit Stromoy of Norway held on with 37 points to earn her highest overall championship finish, ending the season on the prestigious year-end podium in third.
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