By winning today’s incident-filled Union International Motonautique F1H2O World Championship Censtar Grand Prix of China in Xiamen, Team Abu Dhabi driver Shaun Torrente took another step toward defending his world title.
Team Abu Dhabi driver and defending F1 H2O world champion Shaun Torrente of Florida won the incident-filled Grand Prix of China on Sunday. Photo courtesy Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club
The ninth Grand Prix victory of the Florida native’s career and the second this season allowed Torrente to regain the lead in the title race from Jonas Andersson heading into the final round of the series in Sharjah, UAE (Dec. 18-21). Torrente, who finished fourth in Saturday’s Grand Prix of Xiamen, now holds a five-point advantage over the Team Sweden driver who took second on Saturday behind Italian driver Alex Carella of the Maverick F1 Racing team. In third place overall—22 points behind Andersson—is Emirates Racing driver Marit Stromoy, who finished third on Saturday and fourth on Sunday.
Torrente survived four restarts during the hard-earned start-to-finish victory. Difficult conditions with strong winds churning up the waters of Wuyan Bay led to just nine of the 17 starters finishing the race—Carella, Alberto Comparato, Cedric Deguisne and Torrente’s teammate Thani Al Qemzi all crashed out.
Despite a sluggish start and momentarily slipping back off the dock, Torrente managed to emerge in the lead at the end of the start lap chased by Carella with Peter Morin, Stromoy and Philippe Chiappe in pursuit. Torrente held off the challenge for five laps when the first yellow was shown after Deguisne’s boat nosedived, destroying his engine. The second yellow came out almost immediately after the restart on the seventh lap, with Carella looking to pressure Torrente and blowing over.
At the restart on lap 12 Torrente came under pressure from Morin, who maintained a sustained challenge for 10 laps and closed to within 1.3 seconds when the yellow was shown again, this time heralding the exit of Al Qemzi after barrel rolling his DAC, his title challenge evaporating at the same time.
Again Torrente managed the restart well but this time it was Chiappe and Andersson taking up the chase after both passed Stromoy with Chiappe’s teammate Morin retiring on lap 23 with an engine problem.
In the closing stages Torrente looked to have the race under control when the yellow was raised on lap 28 after Comparato caught a wave and nosedived ripping off his left sponson. Torrente led Chiappe and Andersson for three laps before taking the checkered flag under the yellow.
“It was a nerve-racking race with all those restarts and everyone was coming for me,” Torrente said. “The wind was ridiculous—it was just picking the boat up and moving it all over the place. Carella and I were giving it everything, he almost went then I almost went and then he did. But the target was always to get to Sharjah in front.”
Shaun Torrente won the Grand Prix of China ahead of second-place finisher Philippe Chiappe (left) and Jonas Andersson (right). Photo courtesy Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club
Chiappe’s second place gave the three-time champion his first points of the season.
“It’s been a busy weekend, not at all easy and today was a very hard race,” Chiappe said. “It was a good result for the team, and at last I finish a race this year.”
Third place for Andersson kept his title hopes very much intact as he heads to Sharjah as the only challenger to Torrente.
“I am very happy with the result but I just didn’t have the speed today,” Andersson said. “My set up was totally wrong for these conditions, it was just too rough. We are still in the fight and we are going to Sharjah to win.”
Erik Edin had by far his best performance and best result of the season coming home in fifth, Sami Selio another to produce a strong showing in sixth, his teammate Filip Roms’ race ending with technical issues on lap 20.
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