Shaun Torrente (left) and teammate Thani Al Qamzi
Shaun Torrente (left) and teammate Thani Al Qamzi Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: It could be anybody’s title as a competitive field in Xiamen is in battle for the fourth round of the 2019 UIM F1H2O World Championship in Xiamen, China this weekend.

Team Amaravati’s Swedish driver Jonas Andersson is cushioned in between the Team Abu Dhabi pair of Shaun Torrente and Thani Al Qamzi, while Norwegian Marit Stromoy from the UAE-based Emirates Racing and four-time world champion Philippe Chiappe’s son-in-law and understudy Peter Morin of the CTIC F1 Shenzhen China team tied for fourth heading into the double-header.

Making an appearance on the F1 calendar for the first time since 1997, the Grand Prix of Xiamen will be held on October 19 followed by the Grand Prix of China at the same venue on Sunday.

Just eight points separate the top three drivers — Torrente at the top with 35 points, followed by Andersson (32) and Al Qamzi (27) — while Stromoy and Morin are joint fourth with 16 points each. The Grand Prix of Sharjah in the third week of December will host the final round of the season, giving each of these drivers ample motivation to get the maximum out of the 60 points on offer before the season ends.

Looking forward to defending his world title is Torrente as he leads all drivers. “We’ve been really prepared with some great test sessions in Abu Dhabi during the past few days in order to get ready for this event,” Torrente told Gulf News.

“In some ways, this feels like a new season with all the changes in the teams starting with Victory and Maverick F1 Racing with new drivers. It’s a strange situation, but we need to keep our focus and aim for two good races so that we are in the best position possible arriving for the final round in Sharjah,” he added.

Team Abu Dhabi is among the favourites to defend their team crown as they lead with 62 points, followed by Team Amaravati (32), Emirates Racing (24), CTIC F1 Shenzhen China (16) and Victory Team (9).

Of notable interest will be Sweden’s Erik Stark as he makes his first appearance for the Dubai-based Victory Team this weekend alongside new teammate David Del Pin, in place of Alex Carella and Ahmad Al Hameli.

The first opportunity for drivers over the weekend will be a two-hour practice session out on the water to get a feel of the 2,516m Wuyan Bay circuit between 7pm and 9pm (UAE time), followed by the Rebellion official qualifying at 3pm (UAE) and the Grand Prix of Xiamen from 8pm (UAE) the following day.

UIM F1H2O World Championship Standings at the end of third round held in Evian, France in July: 1. Shaun Torrente (USA/UAE) 35pts; 2. Jonas Andersson (Sweden) 32pts; 3. Thani Al Qamzi (UAE) 27pts; 4= Marit Stromoy (Norway) 16pts; 4= Peter Morin (France) 16pts; 6. Bartek Marszalek (Poland) 8pts; 7. Alex Carella (Italy) 5pts; 8= Greg Foster (USA) 4pts; 8= Ahmad Al Hameli (UAE) 4pts; 10= Erik Stark (Sweden/UAE) 3pts; 10= Alberto Comparato (Italy) 3pts.