Dubai: Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente put himself in a strong position for a successful defence of his UIM F1H2O World Powerboat Championship title after winning an incident-marred Censtar Grand Prix of China in Xiamen, Fujian province, on Sunday.
Starting from pole position, the Miami resident had to contend with chase from an ever-hungry field that included some of the other title hopefuls including Saturday’s Grand Prix of Xiamen winner Alex Carella, CTIC F1 Shenzhen’s Peter Morin, Sharjah Team’s Marit Stromoy, former three-time world champion Philippe Chiappe along with Sami Selio, Erik Edin, Thani Al Qamzi and Alberto Comparato.
There was, however, no doubt that Torrente and his team had put in those hard yards as his speed was unmatched even as many of the challengers wilted along the way — forcing the yellow flag on at least three occasions during the 32-lap race.
Torrente was followed 0.91 seconds behind by former three-time world champion Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC F1 Shenzhen Team followed by Team Sweden’s Andersson another 2.75 seconds off the pace, while Stromoy drifted in fourth less than five seconds away.
“What a great day. I am blessed to be in such a team that believes so much in me. We have a bunch of kids here who are willing to do anything to ensure we end at the top,” Torrente told Gulf News.
“We all looked at the mirror last night and then we looked at the data and knew we had to put in some hard work. We did exactly that and that is how we got such amazing results today. We re-assessed everything and I just went out on the course knowing that the best way to repay their hard work would be on winning this one, and I did,” he added.
Torrente took his overall tally to 64 points, followed by Andersson in second with 59 points and Stromoy continuing in third with 37 points to set up a mouth-watering sixth and final race on the Buhairah Corniche in Sharjah when the championship concludes on December 18-21.
The first of the yellow flags came out on the fifth lap with Maverick Racing’s Cedric Deguisne limping out, followed by Sharjah Team’s Felipe Roms and Victory Team’s new driver Erik Stark. There was further drama on the seventh lap as Carella went airborne while going full throttle on leader Torrente before the Italian landed his boat engine first after two flips.
With one-third of the race gone, Torrente was battling to hold off Morin, Stromoy and Chiappe — followed by Andersson and Al Qamzi and just when it looked like the field had seen the worst, the yellow flag came out again with Al Qamzi and Francesco Cantando following each other to the pits. With four more laps to go, Alberto Comparato decided to go off — leaving a bare field to complete the race.
1. Shaun Torrente (USA/Team Abu Dhabi); 2. Philippe Chiappe (France/CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team) +0.91 secs; 3. Jonas Andersson (Sweden/Team Sweden) +2.75 secs; 4. Marit Stromoy (Norway/Emirates Racing) +4.32 secs; 5. Erik Edin (Sweden/Team Sweden) +1 lap; 6. Sami Selio (Finland/Sharjah Team) +1 lap; 7. Bartek Marszalek (Poland/Emirates Racing) +1 lap; 8. Greg Foster (USA/Blaze Performance) +1 lap; 9. David Del Pin (Italy/Victory Team) +1 lap; 10. Alberto Comparato (Italy/F1 Atlantic Team).
Drivers’ standings: 1. Shaun Torrente (64); 2. Jonas Andersson (59); 3. Marit Stromoy (37); 4. Thani Al Qamzi (27); 5. Alex Carella (25); 6. Peter Morin (23); 7. Philippe Chiappe (15); Bartek Marszalek (14); 8. Greg Foster (12); 9. Erik Edin (10); 10. Alberto Comparato (8).
Teams standings: 1. Team Abu Dhabi (91 points); 2. Team Sweden (69); 3. Emirates Racing Team (51); 4. CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team (38); 5. Maverick F1 Team (23); 6. Blaze Performance Team (12); 7. Victory Team (11); 11. F1 Atlantic Team (11); 9. Sharjah Team (6).