Team Abu Dhabi created another piece of powerboat racing history by securing a second successive 1-2-3 race finish at the Union Internationale Motonautique F1 H2O World Championship Agile Grand Prix of Xiangyang on China’s Han River on Sunday morning.
American driver Shaun Torrente looked good while winning his second race of the 2018 F1 H2O World Championship season in China on Sunday. Photos by Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club
Pole sitter Shaun Torrente, who hails from Florida, claimed his second victory of the season and was followed to the finish line by teammates Thani Al-Qemzi and Erik Stark at the fourth round of the F1 H2O World Championship. The result means that the 40-year-old Al-Qemzi now leads the drivers’ championship by a single point over Stark and two points ahead of Torrente.
Running out of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC), the three DAC drivers were the class of the field and, once Al-Qemzi had passed Team Amaravati’s Jonas Andersson on the opening lap, the three drivers ran a professional and processional race to the finish.
Andersson secured fourth place, while three-time world champion Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team earned valuable points for fifth and Victory Team’s Ahmed Al-Hameli was sixth. Team Abu Dhabi moved further ahead of its rivals in the teams’ championship, while Frenchman Peter Morin earned the fastest lap of the race, a tour of 56.57 seconds.
“I had Erik on my side at the start and then Thani next to Jonas,” a triumphant Torrente said. “The idea was to protect each other at the start and then whoever wins, wins. This is another amazing result for the team. They have done an amazing job. All the hard work that everyone has put in is starting to pay off. It really is a very exciting time and we are in a fantastic position now for a thrilling finish to the championship.”
Thani Al-Qemzi finished in second on China’s Han River to take the F1 H2O overall points championship lead after four rounds.
Warm conditions welcomed teams to the 10th Chinese venue to ever host a Grand Prix. Torrente led the way from Stark, Andersson and Al-Qemzi at the start pontoon for 39 laps of the demanding seven-pin, 2.23-kilometer course. It was a clean start and everyone made it safely through the opening turn buoy. Al-Qemzi proved strong, passing Andersson and Stark to snatch second place, but Torrente began to edge clear and was 3.74 seconds ahead after two laps. Chiappe and Al-Hameli held fifth and sixth positions.
The top 10 held station through as many laps and Torrente extended his advantage to 6.16 seconds into lap 15, but Portugal’s Duarte Benavente and double world champion Sami Selio were sidelined and Thailand’s Sutthipan Sookbuangbon struggled at the rear of the field on his race debut. Four-time world champion Alex Carella had been running in 12th place and also withdrew his Victory Team boat.
Torrente’s lead was down to 3.18 seconds with 12 laps to go, but the top six were running in procession and there were no late dramas for the American. He eased his pace slightly and passed the checkered flag 6.03 seconds in front of Al-Qemzi and stormed back into title contention, as Stark rounded off another historic 1-2-3 finish for Team Abu Dhabi and Al-Qemzi moved to the top of the points’ standings.
The next round of the F1 H2O World Championship resumes in Amaravati in India on Nov. 17-18.
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