Dubai: Reigning champions Team Abu Dhabi and Dubai’s Victory Team will once mount a two-fold challenge when action resumes with the Grand Prix of Portugal — the second round of the 2019 UIM F1H2O World Championship in Portimao, Portugal, this weekend.
Torrente led after four laps at the season-opener in Dammam with a best time of 1:14.36 ahead of Italian Francesco Cantando (1:14.87) when organisers called off the race due to unfavourable racing conditions following storms in Saudi Arabia, at the end of March.
All teams will now have to start off fresh in this week’s second round in the Algarve region of Portugal, where Torrente has some good memories following pole position and a double race win on debut with Team Abu Dhabi last year. “Going back to a venue where you’ve won before makes you feel that you are good for that race course. I really love that venue and I’m looking forward to racing there again,” the American said.
“It was very frustrating to not get started in Saudi Arabia [in March] after all the hard work put in by the team. We want to get the first Grand Prix in the books and start off on a good foot, and I just can’t wait to get going again in Portimao,” he added.
Among Team Abu Dhabi’s biggest rivals will be the Victory Team duo of former four-time world champion Alex Carella and Ahmad Al Hameli along with France’s three-time world champion Philippe Chiappe, who is chasing his fourth win in Portugal in partnership with son-in-law Peter Morin for the CTIC F1 Shenzhen China team.
“We are confident of a start that we truly deserve. We couldn’t test ourselves against the opposition in Saudi Arabia and get the momentum we needed. But that doesn’t mean we have removed our foot from the pedal as we look for that perfect launch of our new season,” Scott Gillman, CEO of Victory Team told media.
“Even though Saudi Arabia was a disappointment we have re-aligned our plans for the remainder of the season with the sole aim of getting the success we deserve,” the American added.
Action on the weekend will get under way with free practice and time trials for F4 drivers from 4pm UAE time followed by free practice for F1 boats from 5pm on Friday.
On Saturday, F1 and F4 drivers will head out to another free practice session on the 1.937km Arade River before the first F4 race at 4.55pm to be followed by the F1 Rebellion qualifying session from 5.30pm. On Sunday, both F4 and F1 boats have an additional free practice before the second F4 race from 5.40pm followed by the Grand Prix of Portugal from 6.30pm.