H2O Racing
Union Internationale Motonautique


March 30, 2024


Saturday, March 30:  The Victory Team’s Erik Stark held off a persistent challenge from the Sharjah Team’s championship leader Rusty Wyatt to win the first of two Sprint races held in intense heat at the Grand Prix of Bình Định-Vietnam on Thi Nai Bay in Quy Nhơn late on Saturday morning.


Stark said: “I knew if I could take the start, I trusted myself to pull away as fast as possible. Everything went to plan until the first turn buoy but Rusty was so quick. I was pushing to the maximum all race. At the end, we managed to finish first and pick up good points for the championship. I am very happy. The boat was starting good and I had good pace in the race. If the boat is working well, I am confident that we can do the same in the race tomorrow.”


The China CTIC Team’s Peter Morin finished on the bottom step of the podium and Wyatt’s team-mate Filip Roms and the Red Devil-SMC F1 Team ‘s Ferdinand Zandbergen rounded off the top five until Roms was docked two positions for not maintaining his lane. The Finn’s penalty lifted Zandbergen to fourth and Dillard to fifth with Roms finishing sixth


Stark started on pole for the first of the 18-lap races from championship leader Wyatt and the morning’s free practice session winner Morin. After their engine changes on Friday afternoon, Brent Dillard and Ben Jelf started at the end of the pontoon behind Zandbergen, Roms, Duarte Benavente and Cédric Deguisne.


It was already in excess of 30°C with high humidity and a gentle southeasterly breeze when the opening Sprint race followed the fanfare of the opening ceremony in front of a large and excitable crowd in the grandstand area held in the presence of the acting Vietnamese President Võ Thị Ánh Xuân.


Wyatt had been practicing his starts earlier this morning but he was unable to prevent Stark from staying out in front and the Canadian finished the opening lap trailing in the Swede’s wake. Stark extended his cushion to 2.518 seconds after lap two with Morin a close third and Roms holding fourth.


By lap six, Stark led by 2.048 seconds from Wyatt with a large gap growing behind third-placed Morin to Roms in fourth. Zandbergen, Dillard, Deguisne, Jelf and Benavente rounded off the nine racers.


The leading trio had already lapped several of the tail-enders by the time Stark began lap 13 2.693sec in front of Wyatt. Roms maintained a distant third and Roms appeared to have shaken off the fuel issue that plagued his progress on Friday in fourth.


Despite a nervy moment in the closing minutes, Wyatt was not able to catch Stark and saw his World Championship lead shaved to just three points by finishing second to the Swede. Jelf managed to overhaul Deguisne and snatch seventh behind Morin, Roms, Zandbergen and Dillard. The Briton’s team-mate Benavente finished ninth.