Dubai: Teams from the UAE are braced for yet another fine showing as the 2017 UIM F1H2O World Championship shifts to China over the weekend.
After a short break for summer, the 19 drivers from 12 countries will resume their on-water rivalries at the Grand Prix of Harbin along the Hulan Estuary Wetland Park circuit — the third round on the 2017 UIM F1H2O World Championship to be held from August 11-13.
Inclement weather saw the opening two rounds of the championship in Portugal and France end in sort-of an anti-climax. But enough was achieved in both European stops to have a new drivers’ leader in Mad Croc Baba Racing’s Sami Selio, with 30 points, followed by Team Abu Dhabi’s Italian driver Alex Carella in second spot with 29 points, and three-time defending world champion Philippe Chiappe, from the CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team, in third place with 20 points.
A former two-time world champion, Selio had a strong outing in Harbin last year when the Finnish driver did the race double of clinching pole and a win in the race. However, at that time Selio had had a poor start to the season and was sitting in sixth place — and 27 and 25 points off leader Carella and ultimate world champion Chiappe, respectively.
But this season things are different as two second-place finishes in Algarve and Evian have put the Finn right at the top, ahead of all competitors. But with Carella and Chiappe keeping up the pressure, things are expected to get even more exciting as the season chugs along.
Among the challengers this weekend, after shrugging off indifferent finishes, will be the three teams and seven drivers from set-ups based in the UAE — Team Abu Dhabi, Victory Team and Emirates Racing Team.
“Historically, UAE teams have always been among the best in the world of powerboat racing. This year, all three have been late off the blocks due to various reasons, but that means nothing as we hope weather conditions will be perfect for some exciting racing during the next two rounds in China,” Huraiz Al Mur Huraiz, chairman of the board of directors of Victory Team, told Gulf News.
“And then the last two rounds will be held in UAE waters in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, and by then we hope we will all be in the reckoning for the world titles in the drivers’ and teams’ categories,” he added.
After Harbin, the fourth round of the 2017 UIM F1H2O World Championship will be held in Liuzhou from September 29 to October 1.
Drivers’ standings after two rounds of the 2017 UIM F1H2O World Championship:
1. Sami Selio (Finland) 30pts; 2. Alex Carella (Italy) 29; 3. Philippe Chiappe (France) 20; 4. Duarte Benavente (Portugal) 14; 5. Shaun Torrente (USA) 12; 6. Ahmad Al Hameli (UAE) 9; 7. Jonas Andersson (Sweden) 7; 8. Bartek Marsalek (Poland) 7; 9. Erik Stark (Sweden) 7; 10. Thani Al Qamzi (UAE) 5.