On Sunday, Florida native Shaun Torrente grabbed a convincing victory in the Grand Prix of Portugal in Portimao as Team Abu Dhabi executed a perfect start to its double title defense in the Union Internationale Motonautique F1 H2O World Championship.
Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente—the defending F1 H2O world champion who hails from Florida—started the 2019 season with a victory in Portimao, Portugal. Photos courtesy ADIMSC
In his first official race with the No. 1 on the side of his tunnel boat—rough conditions in Saudi Arabia caused the season-opener in April to be cancelled—reigning world drivers’ champion Torrente had to fight off a consistent challenge from teammate Thani Al Qemzi, who finished in second place as the duo scored a one-two finish in Portimao for the second year in a row.
After Torrente had topped qualifying on Saturday just ahead of Al Qemzi, the defending F1 team champions appeared poised to dominate the Grand Prix, which kick started the championship following the opening round weather disruption in Saudi Arabia.
Described by Torrente as “the best starter in the world,” Al Qemzi was unable to force his way into the lead at the start, but with four of 48 laps left, he closed to within half a second of the lead to put extra pressure on his teammate, who also drives for the team backed by the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club.
Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al Qemzi finished second, challenging his teammate Shaun Torrente for nearly all of the 48-lap race in Portugal.
Al Qemzi had signalled his intention to make it his day earlier in the afternoon by setting the fastest time in free practice, but Torrente held on to clinch the victory by a slender 1.38 seconds, with Swede Jonas Andersson in third place for Team Amaravati. Finishing behind Andersson was Peter Morin of France and Marit Stromoy of Norway.
“Everything was fine for the first 20 laps but Thani is such a hard charger and I just had to hold on,” said Torrente, whose thoughts at the finish were already moving toward the Grand Prix of France (July 5-7). “I had some down-trim issues halfway through the race that I had to deal with so I was just doing my best to hold of Thani. We’ll celebrate this today but tomorrow it’s back to work and we prepare for Evian.”
There Goes My Hero
Torrente And Team Abu Dhabi Win 56th Running Of 24 Hours Of Rouen
Strong Wind And Rough Seas Force Cancellation Of F1 H2O Grand Prix Of Saudi Arabia
Inside SOTW Mag: Torrente’s Take: Dream Season—Now What?
Dream Season: American Torrente Earns 2018 F1 H2O World Championship For Team Abu Dhabi
Torrente and Al-Mansoori Claim XCAT World Championship For Team Abu Dhabi