American driver Shaun Torrente of the Qatar Team has a little luck on his side when it comes to racing on his team’s home water in Doha, Qatar. For the second race in a row—and the third time in the last four contests—the Florida native earned the victory on Doha Bay.
Florida’s Shaun Torrente earned the victory in the opening round of the 2015 F1 H2O season. Photo courtesy F1 H2O
Torrente, who set the pace all afternoon after winning the pole, survived a rough 1.76-kilometer course in a race that ended with 15 of the 36 laps under a yellow caution flag to take the action-packed opening round of the 2015 Union Internationale Motonautique F1 H2O World Championship in Doha. With the victory, the Qatar organization has won six of the last seven Grand Prix events in Doha.
“The team handed me a perfect setup today with the new boat,” said Torrente who leads the world drivers championship with 20 points. “I guess all our hard work paid off testing earlier this week to get ready for the season opener here. Now we head to what I hear will be another rough water circuit and for me this is something that I relish and can’t wait to get to France in June.”
Finishing a close second was French pilot Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC China Team as the defending world champion did his best to chase down Torrente only to finish runner up for the second straight year. The final place on the podium went to Swedish driver Erik Stark of Team Nautica as the 2014 rookie-of-the-year driver earned his second podium of his career.
“After the 21 laps and then the accident I wasn’t totally sure I was ready to push in these challenging conditions,” Chiappe said. “I am truly happy to finish, take a podium, finish and leave here with 15 points. Now the rest of the field head to my home waters and I can’t wait to race in France in front of so many of my loyal fans. It will be electric.”
The accident Chiappe alluded to came on lap 22 when two-time world champion Sami Selio made a great move past Stark for fourth. When Selio headed to the right-hand turn on the backside of the race circuit he slid past Emirates Team driver Ahmed Al Hameli into third place, but as he pinched in from the outside going for the right-hand corner he lost control briefly, stuffed the boat and it snapped back up right into the path of Al Hameli.
The two boats violently collided flying into the air, both barrel rolling to a stop and bringing out the pace boat for the remainder of the event. Both drivers were lucky to escape serious injury.