Abu Dhabi: Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente and Thani Al Qemzi are prepared for another fierce test of their double title ambitions when the 2022 UIM F1H2O World Championship returns to Italy at the weekend.
Just three weeks ago, after in an incident-packed double header in San Nazzaro, Torrente emerged with a 17-point championship lead over his Emirati team-mate, and a third world drivers’ crown well within his grasp.
Since then, the season has taken on a different look, with Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix of Regione Sardegna added to the calendar, ahead of two Grand Prix in three days at December’s season-ending return of the championship to Sharjah.
“I’m really happy about my position,” said Torrente. “It’s the best start to a season I’ve ever had. There were 60 points available, and I’ve got 52, so that’s a pretty good start. We just need to keep going, and take really good points on Sunday, if we can’t win the race.”
“The feeling in the team is good. We want to win every race. We won the first race in San Nazzaro had a second and a third place in the other. I stayed on in Italy for an extra day to test and prepare for Olbia. We’re anxious to get there and, hopefully, get another win.”
Torrente and Al Qemzi arrive in the Sardinian coastal city of Olbia as friendly rivals in the drivers’ title race, and partners in the bid to deliver a fifth successive team crown to Abu Dhabi Marine Sports Club.
They already hold a 46-point advantage over the Team Sweden pairing of Jonas Andersson and
Kalle Viippo. and once again will have the considerable benefit of Guido Cappellini’s experience and local knowledge to count on at the weekend.
Since he took over as team manager in February 2015, the Italian powerboat racing legend has captured 15 world titles, and his desire to win two more this season is as strong as ever.
The championship is returning to Sardinia after an 18-year gap, and Cappellini will have fond memories of his success there, including victories on the way to two of his ten world titles in 2002 and 2003.
Pile on the pressure
If the vastly experienced Al Qemzi is to finally make it his year this time, he may need to win on Olbia to build on his two second places so far this season.
Currently lying third in the standings, reigning world champion Andersson will be looking to pile the pressure on the Team Abu Dhabi duo, as will Sharjah Team’s Ferdinand Zandbergen.
The Dutch rookie followed up his maiden F1H2O pole position last time out in San Nazzaro with an impressive Grand Prix victory, to go fourth in the championship.
Zandbergen can be forgiven if he is already thinking ahead to the final two Grand Prix of the season on Sharjah’s Khalid Lagoon. So too can Torrente, who clinched his second world title there in dramatic style in 2019, edging out Andersson on a countback.
2022 UIM F1H2O World Championship leading positions (provisional):
1. Shaun Torrente (UAE) 52pts
2. Thani Al Qemzi (UAE) 35pts
3. Jonas Andersson (SWE) 31pts
4. Ferdinand Zandbergen (NED) 27pts
5. Peter Morin (FRA) 21pts
6. Alec Weckstrom (FIN) 21pts