In what’s been rumored for several months, the Dubai-based Victory Team is introducing its own brand of boat to the Union Internationale Motonautique F1 H2O World Championship paddock this week as the tour makes its fifth stop of the year at the 24th Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi (Dec. 10-11), which is the first of back-to-back races in the United Arab Emirates.
The Victory Team showed off its two new F1 H2O raceboats on Monday and plans to race them on Thursday and Friday in Abu Dhabi.
Although it is new to the F1 H2O tour, this move shows that the team, which is well established and world renowned in the offshore racing scene having dominated Class 1 and beyond for more than a decade, is taking its F1 racing program serious.
“We have been working 24 hours a day for the past month getting these two new boats ready,” said American driver Shaun Torrente, who is still in the championship hunt with 39 points and two events left to close out the season. Points leader Philippe Chiappe holds a 16-point lead over Torrente and Youssef Al Rubayan is in third with 36 points followed by Jonas Anderson (29) and Erik Stark (27).
“We realized that we needed to make a change in our philosophy after our race in Evian, France, in June; the boat we had wasn’t a winning machine so we decided to look to the future and plan on getting a competitive package,” Torrente continued in an F1 H2O press release. “However, after finding out we couldn’t purchase a competitive boat, we elected to build our own and now we’ll get our first test this weekend and see how it runs against the competition.”
According to the release, the pair of boats was built with safety as well as speed in mind. The cockpit passed with more than 7,000 newtons of thickness assessed on its structure for the “safety cell,” while the glass cockpit was completed with 10 millimeters of thickness rather than the more standard three millimeters.
“We feel we have hit the mark when it comes to safety,” said Torrente, who has been in his fair share of crashes. “Now, with more than 30 hours of testing on the boats, we are hoping this gets us right in the mix for a run up front for qualifying on Thursday afternoon. True, it’s our first step, but hopefully it’s a giant one at the same time.”
Qualifying is a big step each year at the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi as the fast qualifier has won the race the last five years and in nine of the last 11 starts.
France’s Chiappe, who drives for the CTIC China Team, is hoping to wrap up another title after having won the last two races in Portugal and China, and is looking to duplicate what he accomplished a year ago winning from pole position on his way to his first career title. According to the release there is still hope for nine different drivers on the tour with 40 points up for grabs in two races over the next 10 days.
“We are quietly confident after putting ourselves in position for another title,” Chiappe said. “This team has worked extra hard to repeat, which isn’t always easy to accomplish in a racing sport especially on this tour.”
Qualifying and the battle for pole position will take place on Thursday at 15:30 local (6:30 am on the East Coast of North America). The official qualifying session can be followed in its entirety by going to the tour’s website at www.f1h2o.com.
Chiappe Cruises to First F1 H2O Victory in China
Chiappe Wins in Portugal, Closes in on F1 H2O Points Leader Torrente
Victory Team and Torrente Ready for Portugal After Testing in Italy
Al Rubayan Wins in France After Carella Disqualification, Torrente Takes Fourth
Torrente to Defend Points Lead in Evian with Victory Team
France’s Chiappe Wins in Sharjah to Claim F1 H2O World Crown