Sharjah: Team Abu Dhabi’s Erik Stark threw himself into the thick for a swing at a maiden world drivers’ title when he took pole position at the Grand Prix of Sharjah — the final round on the 2018 UIM F1H2O World Championship — taking place on the Khalid Lagoon in Sharjah.
Stark, who is currently in third overall behind teammates Shaun Torrente and Thani Al Qamzi — claimed pole position with the quickest lap of 45.61 seconds to push Team Amaravati’s Jonas Andersson in second place a mere 600th of a second slower. Now overcoming early season blues, Mad Croc Baba Racing’s Sami Selio came in with the third best lap with a 46.11 secs, while CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team’s Peter Morin continued his rapid improvement curve with a 46.22 effort for fourth place on the grid.
Victory Team’s defending four-time world champion also showed drastic improvement with the fifth-best lap of 46.55 secs leaving last weekend’s race winner Thani Al Qamzi in sixth with his 46.63 secs.
“It’s been a truly amazing ride for me. I did some mistakes during the first lap, but it was in the second lap that I remained focused and came through,” Stark said.
“By winning the pole position I think I have done half the job. The only thing remaining for me is to go out on the lagoon again and win this race on Saturday. Tomorrow [Friday] we have a rest day and that works well in the bigger picture,” the Team Abu Dhabi driver added.
The drama unfolded at the end of Q2 of the qualifying when championship leader and Torrente was nudged out of the Q3 shoot-out by teammate Al Qamzi in the dying seconds of the session. The Miami resident, who is also gunning for his maiden world crown will start from seventh. Torrente later complained that he couldn’t go out for one final lap at the fag end of Q2 as his electrics had failed.
Winner of the last race and currently in second overall, Al Qamzi will now start in sixth alongside his teammate to what he can possibly do to play catch-up with Stark at the top of the grid.
Friday will be a relatively relaxed day with an official free practice session for the aquabikes from 10.15am while the third and final Motos for all four classes will be held from 2 to 4pm followed by the presentation of trophies to the world champions.
Pole Positions for the start of the Grand Prix of Sharjah — the final round on the 2018 UIM F1H2O World Championship — to be held on the Khalid Lagoon in Sharjah, on Saturday: 1. Erik Stark (Sweden) Team Abu Dhabi (45.61secs); 2. Jonas Andersson (Sweden) Team Amaravati (45.67); 3. Sami Selio (Finland) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team (45.79); 4. Peter Morin (France) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team (46.22); 5. Alex Carella (Italy) Victory Team (46.55); 6. Thani Al Qamzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi (46.63); 7. Shaun Torrente (USA) Team Abu Dhabi (47.34); 8. Filip Roms (Finland) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team (48.11); 9. Erik Edin (Sweden) Team Amaravati (48.53); 10. Francesco Cantando (Italy) Blaze F1 Team (48.95); 11. Marit Strømøy (Norway) Emirates Racing Team (50.67); 12. Bartek Marszalak (Poland) Emirates Racing Team (DNS); 13. Philippe Chiappe (France) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team (50.40); 14. Sutthipan Sookbuangbon (Thailand) Maverick F1 Team (52.20); 15. Simone Schuft (Germany) Blaze F1 Team (55.66); 16. Cédric Deguisne (France) Maverick F1 Team (1min, 07.88secs); 17. Grant Trask (Austria) F1 Atlantic Team (1: 48.96); 18. Duarte Benavente (Portugal) F1 Atlantic Team (DNS); 19. Ahmad Al Hameli (UAE) Victory Team (DNS).
*DNS — Did Not Start.