Team Abu Dhabi driver Alex Carella, a three-time world champion, mixed his talent with a little luck for 48 laps and ended up coming home with a well- earned victory at the second round of the 2016 Union Internationale Motonautique F1 H2O World Championship at the 20th Grand Prix of France on Lac Léman in Evian.
Italian driver Alex Carella won the second F1 H2O World Championship race in Evian, France. Photo by Vittorio Ubertone/Idea Marketing
According to an F1 H2O press release, the event, which was attended by representatives of leading international sporting federations, including the I.O.C., F.I.A. and F.A.I. along with UIM President Dr. Raffaele Chiulli, saw the 20 drivers from 12 different nations honor the victims of the recent tragedy in Nice with black ribbons adorned on their boats as they lined up on the starting grid.
Carella, who hails from Italy, took off from pole position with his former Qatar Team teammate—Victory Team’s Shaun Torrente of Florida—driving a brand new French-built Moore boat coming up alongside Carella, who had the inside lane through the commitment buoy and moved into an immediate lead.
Victory Team driver Shaun Torrente finished third after a strong race at the Grand Prix of France. Photo by Simon Palfrader
French driver Philippe Chiappe—the points championship leader after winning in Dubai in March—was holding a solid third as he chased the battling pair. The two-time defending world champ would once again suffer heartbreak on his home waters for the second straight year after his Mercury engine stopped on the 21st lap and he earned no points, which left thousands of spectators along the two-kilometer circuit disappointed.
Meanwhile, pushing forward was Swedish driver Jonas Andersson of Team Sweden, who made it all the way to third place before dropping out with engine issues on the 19th lap.
Torrente made his move on the 10th lap, powering past his ex-teammate and building a five-second lead. Shortly thereafter he made the mistake of the race, sliding into and hitting the outside pin in turn number three and bringing out a yellow flag, forcing the Victory Team driver to do a drive-through penalty, which dropped him to fifth place.
The podium finishers from the F1 H2O Grand Prix of France. Photo by Simon Palfrader
From there Carella cruised alone in first place. Behind him a series of titanic battles ensued with Torrente storming up and reaching Swedish star Erik Stark of the Emirates Team as they fought for fourth place for many laps. Torrente passed the ex-F2 world champion as Stark eventually retired in 11th place on the 39th lap.
Meanwhile, 22-year-old Filip Roms of BABA Racing charged from 10th at the start to third place. He was then gifted second when Chiappe dropped out moving him up to second place for the first time in his career. The most heated of duels started.
A drama-filled final 10 laps began as Torrente, now in third place, hounded the young driver, who, in only his 23rd start, was forced to cover his position for lap after lap. In the end, Carella cruised home, winning his 12th career Grand Prix and moving into first place in the points standings with 35. Roms finished in second just eight tenths of a second ahead of Torrente in his slightly damaged Moore hull earning 12 more points and moving into second in the championship standings with 24 points.
Local drivers Cedric Deguisne of Maverick Racing had a well-earned fourth position a lap behind the leader, with fellow Frenchman Christophe Larigot of F1 Atlantic Team finishing fifth. Marit Stromoy took sixth after starting seventh for the EMIC Team, while Portugal’s Duarte Benavente slid into seventh place after qualifying eighth in his F1 Atlantic Team Moore-built boat.
The next round of the UIM F1H2O World Championship takes place in Portimao, Portugal, in two weeks (July 30-31) on the Arade River for the 15th Grand Prix of Portugal.
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