In the first of two Union Internationale Motonautique F1H2O World Championship races in Portugal to close out an abbreviated F1H2O season, Team Sweden driver Jonas Andersson fought off a powerful challenge from Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente to secure victory in Friday’s Grand Prix of Figueira Da Foz.
Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente (below with his teammates) finished second on Friday to regain the points lead in the F1H2O World Championship standings heading into Sunday’s season finale in Portugal. Photos courtesy Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club
Andersson led every lap but was pushed to the end, finishing just 2.28 seconds ahead of Torrente, the two-time defending world champion who was looking for his third straight victory in Portugal dating back to 2018.
“Shaun pushed me to the final pin but we knew we had a great setup and we held on all the way through for 40 laps and a critical restart as well,” Andersson said in an F1H2O press release. “The important thing is we are still involved in the championship hunt and it all comes down to Sunday afternoon. If we do well in qualifying tomorrow, I’m hoping to make it two straight here to then end a great season.”
With the second-place finish after qualifying second on Thursday, Torrente moved into the overall points lead in his quest to win a third successive drivers’ title. The Florida native now leads the standings by five points ahead of Team Abu Dhabi teammate Thani Al Qemzi with Sunday’s final round on the horizon. And the Abu Dhabi team is on the verge of delivering a fourth successive F1H2O team championship to the UAE capital.
“It always feels good to go into the last one in control of your own destiny, so to speak,” Torrente told speedonthewater.com. “We had a great qualifying yesterday and a great race today in some pretty challenging conditions; it was super windy. The team is staying late tonight to get everything ready for tomorrow’s qualifying and I’m getting ready for the gala dinner. We’re doing the podium at the gala tonight because the wind was so strong it destroyed the podium.
“Overall, I’m so thankful for the team and thankful for the great results today,” he added. “We have a real chance at three in a row, which feels amazing. Either way, I’m very happy with the guys—I’ve really enjoyed the couple of races we’ve done this year.”
Al Qemzi, who had arrived in Portugal as the championship leader, battled his way to a sixth-place finish, which preserves his chance at his first F1H2O driver’s crown in his 21st season. The veteran Emirati driver gained two places on the first lap after starting in ninth following his difficulties in qualifying 24 hours earlier. He gained another place on lap seven when Sharjah Team’s Sami Selio was halted by mechanical problems in the fourth position.
By that point Torrente started closing the gap on Andersson, who had made a brilliant start, moving to within two seconds of the Swede halfway through the 40-lap race.
Gusting winds and rollers added to the difficulty of racing on a narrow 1,770-meter circuit where passing opportunities were extremely limited.
Torrente said he did his best to try to catch Andersson, but also had to battle to keep Frenchman Peter Morin behind him in third. He will now look to turn the tables on Andersson in tomorrow’s three-stage qualifying for Sunday’s concluding Grand Prix of Portugal.
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