Wednesday, November 8: H2O Racing has announced an exciting new racing itinerary for the Road to Sharjah-Grand Prix of Sharjah on December 8th-10th.
Following on from the success of the recent Regione Sardegna Grand Prix of Italy, where a revised race weekend itinerary was used to better cater for 20 race boats on the Olbia course, officials have built upon the success and feedback from that race by modifying the format of the final round of the UIM F1H2O World Championship.
Twenty-one boats are expected to feature in the season’s finale on Khalid Lagoon and, in a bid to give teams and drivers more time on the water and to increase the exposure of the race for sponsors, spectators and a worldwide television audience alike, an exciting new format will be rolled out.
The one-hour free practice on Friday afternoon (December 8th), starting at 15.00hrs (UAE time), will run to its usual format with all boats on the water at the same time. BRM Qualifications then take centre stage from 09.30hrs on Saturday (December 9th) morning and a similar format will be used to previous races, with all boats racing together in Q1, followed by Q2 to the usual format to determine the final six boats for the Q3 pole position session.
The format then changes for two 15-minute sprint races on Saturday afternoon, starting at 15.00hrs and 15.35hrs, respectively. The line-up for Sprint race 1 will feature the boats that qualified fastest, fourth, fifth, eighth, ninth, 12th, 13th, 16th, 17th, 20th and 21st in the three qualifying sessions. Sprint race 2 will feature boats that qualified second, third, sixth, seventh, 10th, 11th, 14th, 15th, 18th, 19th and 22nd.
Provided that they complete the Sprint race and 70% of the laps, the top five from each sprint race will automatically qualify for the Road to Sharjah-Grand Prix of Sharjah. If less than five boats have qualified from one of the sprint races, extra starting positions will be assigned on Sunday morning.
A second 20-minute qualifying session starts at 09.30hrs on Sunday (December 10th) and this will determine the starting positions from 11th to 21st for the Grand Prix. The stint is only available to boats that have not already qualified for the race and the fastest will be assigned starting positions, 11th, 12th and so on, although all boats will participate in the race. In the eventuality of bad water conditions or the session not taking place, boats will be assigned a starting position under the same criteria as the top 10.
A one-hour free practice session will then follow for all boats starting at 10.00hrs.
After the traditional parade lap, the 2023 Road to Sharjah-Grand Prix of Sharjah will fire into life at 15.00hrs. The starting grid will be determined by the positions in the sprint race, with the sprint race winner with the fastest qualifying time starting on pole, ahead of the winner of the other sprint race and so on. The second half of the pontoon line-up will be arranged from the fastest lap times set in Sunday morning’s second qualifying stint.