H2O Racing
Union Internationale Motonautique


June 15, 2024

Saturday, June 15:  Canadian rookie sensation Rusty Wyatt claimed his first career pole position after dominating a tricky qualifying session for Sunday’s Regione Sardegna Grand Prix of Italy in Olbia.


A strengthening and gusting wind made racing hazardous on the narrow course but the Sharjah Team driver managed to card an early lap of 37.546sec at the start of Q3 and that was sufficient to earn the Pertamina Grand Prix of Indonesia winner a maiden pole position and catapult him into third in the points’ standings for the F1H2O Pole Position Trophy after three rounds.


Wyatt said: “The conditions were nasty, the wind was nasty and in the top corner it was nasty out there. To get out unscathed, we cannot ask for more. It seems to be working. It fits me (the boat) really well. I have nothing negative to say about the boat. Now I am very excited for the sprint race and the main event.”


Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al-Qamzi continued to impress in his new DAC and the Emirati veteran qualified in second place with a best run of 37.959sec. The CTIC China Team’s Peter Morinrounded off the qualifying podium in third place.


Al-Qamzi said: “It was a good race today. The wind came a little bit and then stronger. But my boat, I am happy with it on rough water. Nothing between first and second. I wanted to finish safe. Big waves in one turn but everything is nice and under control.”


Defending World Champion Jonas Andersson and early series leader Erik Stark were unable to match the leading trio on this occasion and qualified in fourth and fifth positions. Andersson duly moved two points clear of his Swedish rival in the F1H2O Pole Position Trophy standings.


The flying Dutchman Ferdinand Zandbergen guided his Red Devil-SMC F1 Team boat to sixth and his best qualifying finish of the season.




Calm weather conditions were prevalent for the start of the opening qualifying session where six racers would be eliminated in the 20-minute stint. Maverick Racing’s Cédric Deguisne was a late starter but Al-Qamzi all but booked his place in Q2 with an early lap of 38.375sec in his new DAC. That time was soon surpassed by Morin’s run of 38.100sec, as Andersson settled into third with the smaller DAC that he had tested in the opening free practice session on Friday.


Wyatt (38.025sec) hit the top of the standings with 13 minutes remaining but attention focused on the drivers at the rear of the field who were determined not to miss the cut for Q2.


Stark moved into third with a run of 38.342sec and pushed Andersson down to fifth. Meanwhile, Brent Dillard returned to the pontoon for a propeller change and was overtaken by the Victory Team’s Ahmad Al-Fahim: he moved into 13th place with a run of 39.175sec and piled the pressure on the American with five minutes on the clock. Ben Jelf then carded a lap of 39.167sec and pushed Al-Fahim down to 13th only to be repassed by the Emirati who carded a lap of 39.104sec.


Wyatt remained out front when the session ended and Dillard eventually did enough to snatch 11thand push Al-Fahim back into the non-qualifiers. Deguisne, his team-mate Alexandre Bourgeot, the F1 Atlantic Team’s Duarte Benavente, the Sharjah Team’s Filip Roms, Al-Fahim and Jelf failed to qualify, as two-time World Champion Sami Seliö held on by the skin of his teeth in 12th.




A further six drivers would be eliminated in the second 15-minute session with the wind strengthening and beginning to gust on the race course. Wyatt was able to put in a fast early lap of 38.640sec and that topped the standings until Al-Qamzi stormed ahead with a 37.806sec run. Dillard also ran well early on and slotted into third but Alberto Comparato and Marit Strømøy were struggling at the rear of the field.


Wyatt regained the top spot with a lap of 37.756sec but Andersson was still languishing in eighth place with 10 minutes on the clock. The Swede and his title rival Stark climbed to fifth and sixth and pushed Dillard out of the top six. Ferdinand Zandbergen then carded a run of 38.440sec shortly before Dillard barrel-rolled out of contention and forced a yellow flag. With the engine flooded after the incident, the American faced a race against time to be ready for his afternoon Sprint race.


Qualifying resumed after several minutes and additional time was added to the clock. Strømøy, her team-mate Bartak Marszalek, Comparato, Seliö, Team Vietnam’s Stefan Arand and Dillard were eliminated in deteriorating water conditions with Arand teetering on the edge of a spectacular flip near the end. Wyatt topped the times from Al-Qamzi and Morin with Zandbergen, Andersson and Stark joining them in Q3.


Arand said: “The beginning of Q2 was a lot better because the second half after the yellow flag was a mess. The weather was getting worse and worse and I almost lost it a few times at the right-hander. I kept my foot in and trimmed down. It was a lottery whether the boat came back down!”


Strømøy added: “It’s pretty rough. We seem to be having good racing speed in the actual race but we are lacking in qualifying pace. We have to work on the qualifying speed and I am sure we will get there. Every time we go in the boat, we learn something new. We are not too far off.”




Ten minutes of Q3 would determine who started Sunday’s race from pole position. Wyatt was the first driver through and the Canadian carded the target of 37.546sec. Andersson moved into second with a third lap of 38.099sec and pushed Al-Qamzi down to third with seven minutes on the clock. Stark lost control of his Victory Team boat and clouted the turn buoys but was able to continue, as Morin moved ahead of Andersson to snatch second place with a lap of 38.078sec.


Wyatt returned to the pontoon to make a propeller change but none of his rivals was able to match his first lap time and the Sharjah Team driver headed into the remaining three minutes in pole position. Al-Qamzi regained second with a lap of 37.959sec but championship leader Stark and defending champion Andersson were not able to break into the top three with pole going to Wyatt from Al-Qamzi and Morin.


A delegation from Sharjah, headed by His Excellency Khalid Jasmin Al Midfa, arrived in Olbia to attend the Grand Prix.

Yesterday, the delegation toured the paddock to wish good luck and greet the three UAE teams.

They visited the Victory Team, conversing with Ahmed Al Fahim, who was testing his boat, and then proceeded to the Abu Dhabi tent, where they were welcomed by team manager Guido Cappellini and the two Emirati drivers, Rashed Al Qemzi and Thani Al Qamzi.

Finally, they spent a considerable amont of time with their “home team”  Sharjah Team,  conversing with the team manager Scott Gillman and the drivers Filip Roms and Rusty Wyatt, the winner of the first Grand Prix of the season, the Pertamina Grand Prix of Indonesia.

As always, the F1H2O World Championship will conclude in Sharjah in December, with the Road to Sharjah Grand Prix of Sharjah  where the championship winner will be announced.