Abu Dhabi: Shaun Torrente aims to extend his winning habit in China this weekend to get back on track for a fourth UIM F1H2O World Championship title with Team Abu Dhabi.
The defending champion won in China in 2018 and 2019 en route to his first of two F1H2O world crowns, and he approaches Sunday’s Grand Prix of Zhengzhou determined to erase memories of his first round disappointment in Indonesia.
Torrente was first to the finish in the opening Grand Prix of the season, only be penalised for a jump start, handing a first career victory to Polish driver Bartek Marszalek.
“Indonesia definitely didn’t finish the way I wanted,” said Torrente. “I won the race on the water, but unfortunately I made a mistake. At least I took a couple of points, so we move forward in China. As usual, I’ll go for the win and try to get back to the top of the table, one lap at a time, one race at a time.”
Torrente has high expectations for three-time UIM F2 champion Rashed Al Qemzi, who takes over in Abu Dhabi 2 from his cousin, veteran Emirati driver, Thani Al Qemzi, who is unavailable for the trip to China.
“Rashed’s integration into the team is not even necessary, because he’s been our spare driver for three or four seasons,” said Torrente. “He’s always been with us, and we’ve raced F2 and endurance together. He’s a really talented, fast driver.
“The main thing for him is to get some experience and to make all the laps. Honestly, if everything goes perfectly, he will have an opportunity to win the race, because he’s that quick. He’s not expected to, but his ability is definitely at that level.”
Al Qemzi. who won the UIM Endurance Championship with Team Abu Dhabi in 2019 and 2021, made his F1H2O debut in Sharjah in 2016 and scored his first points there a year later. He is a naturally confident competitor, and will soak up all the encouragement and motivation he receives from Torrente and team manager, Guido Cappellini.
“I’m very excited to be racing in F1 again and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got for the team,” he said. “Of course, F1 is where I would really like to be. Shaun helped me when we won the endurance championship together, and he’s a great guy. I can learn a lot from him as a driver who has won the world title three times.
“Guido has told me to test the boat in extra free practice, and then the team can prepare it for me for the next day. The weight will be different for me compared to Thani, so some adjustments will be needed, and I’ll see how it suits my style of driving.”
UIM F1H2O World Championship – leading positions:
1. Bartek Marszalek, Stromoy Racing 20 pts
2. Sami Selio, Sharjah Team 15
3. Erik Stark, Victory Team 12
4. Peter Morin, China CTIC Team 9
5. Thani Al Qamzi, Team Abu Dhabi 7
6. Brent Dillard, China CTIC Team 5
7. Filip Roms, Mad Croc Gillman Racing 4
8. Jonas Andersson, Team Sweden 3
9. Shaun Torrente, Team Abu Dhabi 2
10. Ahmad Al Fahim, Victory Team 1