Although it wasn’t the exact outcome he was hoping for, American driver Shaun Torrente put on a great show for thousands of racing fans in the UIM F1 H2O World Championship season opener in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday. The Miami driver steered his Qatar Team DAC boat from 18th position at the start to fourth place, less than five seconds behind race winner Ahmed Al Hameli of Team Abu Dhabi.
Al-Hameli led from start to finish despite multiple yellow flag stoppages to begin the 2012 season with the maximum amount of points. The young Team Abu Dhabi driver was pushed by the two-time world champion, Sam Selio from the Mad Croc Team, for 39 of the 40 laps and went on to win by 2.63 seconds for his sixth career victory.
Meanwhile, Selio didn’t get the luck he needed, finishing third after being in second for all but the final lap when he was passed by French driver Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC China Team, who jumped from fourth to second to pick up 15 well-earned points.
After suffering technical problems on Friday, Torrente failed to set a qualifying time and was forced to start the race from the back of the field. After a stunning surge, Torrente was sitting in third with less than five laps to go until a yellow flag came out forcing a third restart. On the restart, Chiappe made a great move to pass Torrente, who was on the verge of reaching his first career podium.
Torrente’s teammate Alex Carella, who had qualified second on Friday, started back in the 16th position after his engine let go in Saturday’s morning warm-up, forcing an engine change and moving him almost to the tail end of the field. The defending world champion worked his way toward the front, taking fifth for his third straight top five performance in Doha.
The 2012 UIM F1 H2O World Championship now heads for Kazan in the Republic of Tatarstan in Russia for the second straight year on the weekend June 23-24.
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