2022 UIM F1 H2O WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Italian Grand Prix of Regione Sardegna, Olbia – October 14-16
OLBIA (SARDINIA): Wednesday, October 12: Officials and teams are making their final preparations for the UIM F1H2O World Championship’s spectacular return to the waters of Sardinia for this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix of Regione Sardegna.
The new race in Olbia is the fourth round of the championship and a late addition to the 2022 calendar. It marks F1H2O racing returning to the Mediterranean island for the first time since Scott Gillman - who now runs Gillman Racing - won the race in 2004.
Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente currently holds a 17-point advantage over his team-mate Thani Al-Qemzi in the points’ standings and victory for the Florida-based driver in northeast Sardinia would put him in a commanding position to take to the back-to-back Sharjah racing finale in December.
Victories in France and at race one in San Nazzaro in Italy, coupled with a third place in the second of the Italian races, have given Torrente the edge over Al-Qemzi, who finished second in races one and three. The consistency of the experienced Team Abu Dhabi duo has also given the ADIMSC-based operation a useful lead in the Teams’ Championship. But indications from the last race weekend in Italy suggest that the outcome of the final three rounds of the year could be even harder to call.
Torrente said: “It’s the best start to a season I’ve ever had. There were 60 points available and I’ve had 52, so that’s a pretty good start. We just need to keep going and take really good points on Sunday. The feeling in the team is good. We want to win every race. I stayed on in Italy for an extra day to test and prepare for Olbia.”
The Sharjah Team’s Sami Selio showed in Italy that he has the pace to turn round his run of cruel luck. The flying Finn was fastest in free practice and qualified second for the last race behind Torrente. Two accidents sidelined the two-time former World Champion in Italy, however, but his Baba has now been repaired and Selio is raring to go.
While he has struggled to turn outright speed into race finishes, team-mate Ferdinand Zandbergen has been the revelation of the first half of the season. The Dutchman capitalised on a somewhat surprising pole position at round three and led from start-to-finish on the Po River to seal a first career F1H2O race win and leap into fourth in the Drivers’ Championship.
Zandbergen said: “I was speechless after the pole position in Italy. Whether I won or not, my weekend could not have been any better. Now it’s a case of keeping the momentum going. I will be aiming for another pole and another win.”
Team Sweden’s Jonas Andersson and Kalle Viippo currently hold third and seventh positions in the Drivers’ Championship and Andersson is well-placed to make a late challenge to defend his world title. The veteran trails Torrente by 21 points and Al-Qemzi by four and will need to build upon the second place he earned in race one at San Nazzaro. Viippo has been in the points at each of the three races and will be aiming to build upon those foundations this weekend.
Peter Morin and three-time World Champion Phillipe Chiappe have enjoyed mixed fortunes at the opening three races of the year. Morin finished on the podium in Mâcon, but was disqualified from the second of the Italian races after struggling at the rear of the field when forced to change his boat before the race. He did, however, set the fastest lap in the third race. Technical issues blighted Chiappe in Italy and the former series pace-setter currently languishes in a surprising 12th in the points’ standings.
Alec Weckström has made an impressive start to his F1H2O career. He finished fifth in the series last year and currently holds sixth in the 2022 rankings. Benefiting from the experience of team manager and four-time World Champion Scott Gillman, the 24-year-old Finn finished fourth and third at the opening two races, but was deprived of a finish at the FIM Grand Prix of Italy because of electrical issues on his DAC.
It has been a topsy-turvy season for female racer Marit Strømøy in the first of the two Strømøy Racing F1H2O Team Babas. She managed to collect five points in France but a violent coming together with Selio on the Po River forced the Norwegian to miss both the Italian mainland races and the Norwegian will be yearning for better luck if she is to add to her four career podium finishes and one race victory. Poland’s Bartak Marszalek drives the second of the team boats and has a point more than Marit after three rounds.
Maverick Racing’s Cédric Deguisne and Alexandre Bourgeot hold eighth and 13th in the points’ standings, with the French duo’s best performances coming at the second of the Po River races last month. Deguisne has been racing in the F1H2O discipline since 2004 and fourth place was his best race finish, coupled with a best of 11th in the Drivers’ Championship. Bourgeot took part in the series for the first-time last year and finished 12th.
Talented young Italian Alberto Comparato is currently ninth in the Drivers’ Championship, despite a pair of non-finishes. The Comparato F1 driver suffered technical issues in France and collided with Chiappe in the first of the two Italian races before finishing fifth in race three. Meanwhile, veteran racer Paolo Longhi has recently joined the team as a second driver and will compete at the last two races in Sharjah.
Engine issues and ongoing technical woes have hampered Portuguese veteran Duarte Benavente this season and the F1 Atlantic Team driver, like Selio, is yet to score a championship point. He first took part in an F1H2O race way back in 1999 and will be calling upon all that experience to turn his fortunes around for the rest of the season.
The weekend’s timetable gets underway with registration and scrutineering on Friday (October 14) morning, before the official pre-event press conference and 90 minutes of extra free practice take place on the 1620-metre, eight-pin course adjacent to the Molo Brin pier in Olbia.
Teams will be permitted a one-hour free practice session on Saturday morning before the all-important qualifying sessions take centre stage from 15.00hrs.
Additional free practice is permitted on Sunday morning and the 2022 Italian Grand Prix of Regione Sardegna fires into life at 15.00hrs.
2022 UIM F1 H2O World Championship – standings after round 3:
1. Shaun Torrente (USA) Team Abu Dhabi 52pts
2. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 35pts
3. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden 31pts
4. Ferdinand Zandbergen (NLD) Sharjah Team 27pts
5. Peter Morin (FRA) China CTIC Team 21pts
5. Alec Weckström (FIN) Gillman Racing 21pts
7. Kalle Viippo (FIN) Team Sweden 10pts
8. Cédric Deguisne (FRA) Maverick Racing 8pts
9. Alberto Comparato (ITA) Comparato F1 7pts
10. Bartek Marszalek (POL) Strømøy Racing F1H2O Team 6pts
11. Marit Strømøy (NOR) Strømøy Racing F1H2O Team 5pts
11. Phillipe Chiappe (FRA) China CTIC Team 5pts
13. Alexandre Bourgeot (FRA) Maverick Racing 4pts
14. Sami Selio (FIN) Sharjah Team 0pt
14. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team 0pt
2022 UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Trophy – standings after round 3:
1. Sami Selio (FIN) Sharjah Team 35pts
1. Shaun Torrente (USA) Team Abu Dhabi 35pts
3. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 34pts
4. Phillipe Chiappe (FRA) China CTIC Team 24pts
5. Ferdinand Zandbergen (NLD) Sharjah Team 20pts
6. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden 18pts
7. Alberto Comparato (ITA) Comparato F1 12pts
8. Peter Morin (FRA) China CTIC Team 9pts
9. Alec Weckström (FIN) Gillman Racing 7pts
2022 UIM F1 H2O Teams’ World Championship – standings after round 3:
1. Team Abu Dhabi 87pts
2. Team Sweden 41pts
3. Sharjah Team 27pts
4. China CTIC Team 26pts
5. Gillman Racing 21pts
6. Maverick Racing 12pts
7. Strømøy Racing F1H2O Team 11pts
8. Comparato F1 7pts
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