Shaun Torrente celebrates with the Qatari flag after winning the opening round of the 2015 UIM F1 H2O World Championship in Doha yesterday.
American Shaun Torrente showed once again he is the class of the field when it comes to his teams home waters as the driver from Miami, Florida set the pace all afternoon and survived a very rough 1.76 kilometre race circuit in a race that ended with 15 of the 36 race laps under a yellow caution flag to take the action packed opening round of the 2015 UIM F1 H2O World Championship on Doha Bay.
The Qatar Team driver now has won the last two times here on the teams home circuit and three of his last four starts on the five-turn “bullring” just inside the Gulf. With the win, the Qatar organisation has won six of the last seven Grand Prix’s here and with the victory Torrente leads the World Drivers Championship with 20 points.
Torrente, who led from the pace boat produced “rolling start” because of the rough conditions deemed by the UIM Commissioner, to be too severe thus canceling the traditional “Le Mans” start, dropping the green flag after two laps and powering away to over an 11 second lead in less than 10 laps.
On lap 22 two-time World Champion Sami Selio made a great move past second year man Erik Stark for fourth and as he 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 bringing out the pace boat for the remainder of the event. Both drivers were lucky to escape serious injury.
“The team handed me a perfect set-up today, with a new boat and a great step-up I guess all our hard work paid off testing earlier this week getting ready for the season opener here,” said Torrente.
“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 and now has a record six podiums in his 13 starts on Doha Bay.
“After the 21 laps and then the accident I wasn’t totally sure I was ready to push in these challenging conditions,” said Philippe. “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 in June. It will be electric.”
The final place on the podium went to Swedish driver Erik Stark of Team Nautica as the rookie-of-the- year driver from 2014, who was just starting his eighth Grand Prix, earned his second podium of his career earning 12 points in the process. Jonas Andersson who had won this race back in 2008 came home a fine fourth place in his Team Sweden boat ahead of past winner and three-time World Champion Alex Carella of Team Abu Dhabi who struggled with his qualifying set-up but ran a strong race finishing fifth after starting tenth. (www.f1h2o.com)
1. Shaun Torrente (QAT) Qatar Team 36 laps
2. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) China CTIC [email protected]
3. Erik Stark (SWE) Team [email protected]
4. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team [email protected]
5. Alex Carella (ITA) Team Abu [email protected]
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