Sharjah: Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente won his third drivers’ title in the UIM F1H2O World Championship today after the Grand Prix of the Middle East brought the 2022 season to a dramatic conclusion in Sharjah.
Torrente thought his championship hopes had been destroyed after just eight of 38 laps when a brush with Poland’s Bartek Marszalek sent him sideways into an unavoidable collision with team-mate Thani Al Qemzi, putting both Abu Dhabi boats out of the race.
Sweden’s Jonas Andersson, who had grabbed the lead following a flying start, looked to be on his way to a second successive race victory to retain his world title before technical problems on the 28th lap forced his retirement.
His departure paved the way for French three-times former world champion Philippe Chiappe to secure victory on Khalid Lagoon in the last race of his illustrious career.
For Torrente, who won back-to-back world titles in 2018 and 2019, today’s championship conclusion was built on his victories in the opening two rounds of the season in France and Italy, backed up by successive podium finishes.
For Al Qemzi, who finished third in the championship behind Andersson, the wait for a first world drivers’ triumph goes on, although there can be no doubt about his hunger for success, as illustrated by his Grand Prix win in Sardinia two months ago.
The dynamic Abu Dhabi duo had already delivered a fifth consecutive team title to the UAE capital before today’s action got under way with the season’s final three-stage qualifying session.
Andersson grabbed an initial race advantage over Torrente by edging him into third place in the qualifying shoot out, as Chiappe secured pole position. Trailing Torrente by three points at the start of the championship showdown, with Al Qemzi another seven points away, the Swede made the perfect start, powering his way past Chiappe to take the lead into the first turn.
After six laps, the departure of Finn Filip Roms brought out a yellow flag. Just two laps after the restart, the drivers crown looked to be heading back to Sweden following the inescapable crash between Torrente and Al Qemzi, who were both unhurt.
But Andersson, winner of Friday’s Grand Prix of Sharjah, had clearly been experiencing mechanical issues during qualifying, and they eventually caught up with him.
Grand Prix of the Middle East leading positions
1. Philippe Chiappe
2. Bartek Marszalek + 02.73
3. Alberto Comparato + 17.48
4. Alec Weckstrom + 23.57
5. Kalle Viippo + 28.90
6. Cédric Deguisne+ 50.17
7. Ben Jelf + 2Laps
8. Alexandre Bourgeot + 2Laps
2022 UIM F1H2O World Championship leading positions
1. Shaun Torrente (UAE) 69pts
2. Jonas Andersson (SWE) 66pts
3. Thani Al Qemzi (UAE) 59pts
4. Alec Weckstrom (FIN) 48pts
5. Ferdinand Zandbergen (NED) 34pts
6. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) 33pts
7. Bartek Marszalek (POL) 33pts
8. Alberto Comparato (ITA) 26pts