Jonas Andersson
Jonas Andersson, the current UIM F1H2O World champion, celebrates after winning the round one of the Grand Prix of Sharjah on Friday. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Swedish Jonas Andersson, the current UIM F1H2O World champion, won the race one for Grand Prix of Sharjah on Friday to strengthen his chances of retaining the UIM F1H20 title. The victory placed him just three points behind Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente, who suffered electrical problems and poor engine performance and ended in the sixth spot in the race on Khalid Lagoon.

After completing 38 rounds and 78km on Khalid lagoon, Finn Sami Selio came second, finishing 8.5 seconds behind the Swede, while Poland’s Bartek Marszalek secured the third spot.

The Abu Dhabi team received a significant blow, especially with Thani Al Qemzi, who started the race in ninth position, securing the seventh place, which lowered his world championship rank to third place with his 59 points, trailing behind Andersson, who secured 66 points, while Torrente is the lead 69 points.

Having the momentum

Andersson’s start-to-finish victory from pole position may have given him the momentum, but two-time world champion Torrente will be looking to bounce back in what promises a thrilling finale to the 2022 championship on Sunday.

The race is organised by Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), under the patronage of Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah and Chairman of the Sharjah Executive Council, with the participation of 18 racers from around the world.

Shaun Torrente - Team Abu Dhabi-1671219524056
Shaun Torrente suffered mechanical problems during the round one and finished a distance sixth at Khalid Lagoon. Image Credit: Supplied

Despite a seventh-place finish following his own mechanical difficulties in qualifying, Team Abu Dhabi veteran Thani Al Qemzi still has a fighting chance to claim a first world title, holding third place in the standings, seven points behind Andersson.

The uncertainties of elite world championship powerboat racing, and a history of unpredictable conclusions to the season in Sharjah, mean the title is still very much up for grabs, and the Emirati certainly cannot be discounted.

Previous encounters

Torrente will need no reminding that in 2019 in Sharjah, he snatched the world title from Andersson’s grasp, squeezing into second place behind the Swede on the last lap to beat him on a championship countback.

With a fifth successive world team title already secured, the two Team Abu Dhabi teammates will both go all out to grab pole position on Sunday, looking for a crucial advantage to take into the final round of the championship, the Grand Prix of the Middle East, three hours later.

Torrente’s electrical issues on Friday allowed Sharjah Team’s Sami Selio, Pole Bartek Marszalek, Finn Alec Weckstrom and Italian Alberto Comparato to each sneak ahead of him at a time when second place had looked a certainty for the 2018 and 2019 world champion.

Until that late drama, the American had looked to be well in control of second spot, and what would have been a 13-point championship lead to carry forward to Sunday. It all adds up another fascinating Sunday afternoon power struggle over the spectacular 2,057m Sharjah circuit between the two drivers who have dominated the last three F1H2O championships, and the Emirati star who has been trying to win the world crown for 20 years.

Grand Prix of Sharjah leading positions

1. Jonas Andersson

2. Sami Selio + 08.51

3. Bartek Marszalek + 23.90

4. Alec Weckstrom + 31.97

5. Alberto Comparato + 35.63

6. Shaun Torrente + 43.28

7. Thani Al Qemzi + 45.43

8. Philippe Chiappe + 1Lap

2022 UIM F1H2O World Championship leading positions

1. Shaun Torrente (UAE) 69pts

2. Jonas Andersson (SWE) 66pts

3. Thani Al Qemzi (UAE) 59pts

4. Alec Weckstrom (FIN) 39pts

5. Ferdinand Zandbergen (NED) 34pts

6. Peter Morin (FRA) 21pts