Shaun Torrente (centre) celebrates his title at the season-ending Grand Prix of Sharjah on Khalid Lagoon Image Credit: Team Abu Dhabi

Sharjah: Newly crowned F1 powerboat champion Shaun Torrente has vowed to do all in his reach to ensure the fair defence of his crown when the 2019 UIM F1H2O World Powerboat Championship season commences with the Grand Prix of Portugal in May next year.

Needing at least a fourth place, Torrente drove his boat safely into third position at the season-ending Grand Prix of Sharjah to finish just four points clear of his Swedish teammate and race winner Erik Stark on the Khalid Lagoon on Saturday. The 12 points from the podium took Torrente’s tally in the overall drivers’ standings to 89 points, while race winner Stark took the runner-up spot with 85 points and Thani Al Qamzi — who limped out with technical issues on the 17th lap — ended third overall with 74 to complete a rare clean sweep for Team Abu Dhabi.

Going into the season finale in Sharjah, Team Abu Dhabi had already sealed their third world teams’ crown in four years on home waters at the end of last week’s Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi. Sharjah’s earnings took their points’ tally to 143 at the top leaving former world champions CTIC Shenzhen F1 China Team in second (96 points), while Team Amaravati were third best with 54 points.

“This is the start of the festive season and also the right time for me to take things easy and relax,” Torrente told Gulf News before leaving for Miami, Florida, to be with his wife Flavia and daughter Isabella during the festive season.

“It’s been a long season, but things have simply been so awesome for me and the team. We have put in the hard work especially during the off-season. Now after a couple of weeks of rest we will start preparing for 2019 with testing probably in February so that we can be ready for the new season.”

According to new regulations in place from 2019, each team will be allowed only two drivers during the race unlike this year when Team Abu Dhabi had a three-man line-up comprising of Torrente, Stark and Al Qamzi. “I think our success comes down to all the pre-season work. So we already have a game plan that has worked and I doubt there will be any major changes for 2019,” Torrente said.

“We are the world champions and I reckon it will take me some time for this feeling to sink in. I have dreamt about on the podium as the F1 champion ever since I was a kid, and this dream came true for me after a rather long wait. At times I feel I have no feeling, but I know that eventually things will settle in and I will come to terms with being the new F1 champion.”