Wednesday, January 17: Three-time World Champion Shaun Torrente announced via a social media post from Florida on Tuesday evening that he has officially retired from the UIM F1H2O World Championship and is no longer a member of Team Abu Dhabi.
Winner of the World Championship in 2018, 2019 and 2022, Torrente was one of the flair drivers in the sport, one of the few who could captivate a crowd and suddenly turn on a sequence of fast laps to leave his rivals trailing in his wake.
He started racing in his native USA when he was just 15-years-old after early interest in circuit racing in a Mini GT. Shaun became the SST-120 (F2) World Champion on two occasions in 2002 and 2003, before graduating to the North American F1 Championship that he won three times.
The Fort Myers family man made his F1H2O debut in Abu Dhabi in 2007, although he did not start the actual race. He had to wait until 2011 to make his full Grand Prix debut with the Qatar Team that was at the forefront of the championship at that point. Fourth in his team’s home Grand Prix was an explosive start for the young American but retirements followed in Portugal, Russia, Ukraine and Abu Dhabi, before he finished the season with fifth in Sharjah to round off the year equal 10th in the championship standings.
Shaun only took part in four Grand Prix the following year on his way to 11th in the title race but he and Qatar team-mate Alex Carella took the championship by storm in 2013, with Carella winning the last race of the season in Sharjah to deprive the American of the chance of claiming a first world title. Torrente was now one of the leading lights in the sport and he and Carella shadowed Philippe Chiappe to the world title in 2014.
When the Qatar Team withdrew from the sport after Torrente had won the opening round of the 2015 season in Doha Bay, the American was snapped up by the Victory Team for the Grand Prix of France onwards and he continued to deliver top level results, finishing third in the series again to Chiappe and Carella.
By now, Torrente was knocking on the door of ultimate success, although his second season with the Victory Team delivered one win, three thirds and three fourth-place finishes and he again finished just short of Chiappe. His last season with the Victory Team, in 2018, resulted in eighth place in the Drivers’ Championship.
So began his association with Team Abu Dhabi and the start of the fateful 2018 season where he became embroiled in a gripping duel with Erik Stark.
Torrente drew first blood with victory in Portugal, Stark replied with a win on the River Thames in London and then back-to-back successes in Xiangyang and Amaravati gave Torrente the upper hand heading to the final two races of the season in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. The American held his nerve under extreme pressure to carve out a result on Khalid Lagoon and third place in the last race of the year behind Stark and Jonas Andersson was enough to achieve his dream of becoming World Champion for the first time.
It didn’t get any easier from then on either. The 2019 championship was fought out over five rounds and Jonas Andersson was now emerging as one of his main rivals. The duo traded blows in Portimão, Évian and the double-header in Xiamen and the world title was decided on the final round when Andersson claimed the win and Torrente did enough to snatch the title on a tie-breaker with second place in Sharjah.
When racing resumed after the global lockdowns in 2021, Torrente finished third behind Andersson and team-mate Thani Al-Qamzi and then set about trying to win his third title in 2022.
Once again, Andersson was his closest rival in a season where the two racers traded podium finishes and three GP wins heading for another showdown in Sharjah. Torrente led by three points with the scene set for a winner-takes-all battle on Khalid Lagoon. The title looked to be heading to Sweden after Torrente retired prematurely but that all changed within sight of the finish when Andersson ground to a halt with electrical gremlins and a shell-shocked Torrente discovered from the paddock that he had won the World Championship for a third time.
From 65 career F1H2O race starts, Torrente claimed three world titles, 11 Grand Prix victories, 30 podium finishes, 11 pole positions and amassed 609 career points.
Speaking on social media on Tuesday evening, he said: “Thirteen years! It has been an amazing journey that has exceeded every single expectation! Today is the day I am officially retiring from F1H2O. It is time to focus on things here at home. I am blessed with an amazing family and business that require my full attention. Triple world champion – more than I could have ever dreamed!”
Everyone at H2O Racing wishes Shaun and his family every success for the future. It’s been a blast….."until the next time?!"