The Victory Team combination of Ahmad Al Hameli and Shaun Torrente at the Grand Prix of Harbin in 2017. Ahmad Al Hameli and Alex Carella will be at the helm for Victory Team this year. Image Credit: Victory Team

Dubai: With a talented crew to back them, Victory Team are excited about their chances for the new powerboat season that commences with the Grand Prix of Portimao, the opening round of the 2018 UIM F1H2O World Championships, in Portugal this weekend.

With American pilot Shaun Torrente crossing over to Team Abu Dhabi, the Dubai-based Victory Team signed four-time defending world champion Alex Carella to race alongside the talented Ahmad Al Hameli. The Victory Team will be mounting their most serious challenge for a maiden F1 world title with a two-boat strategy when a total of 19 drivers take to the waters in Portimao from May 18-20.

Several teams have made changes this season with Poland’s Bartek Marszalek teaming up with Norwegian Marit Strømøy in the Emirates Racing Team, while three-time world champion and last year’s Portugal race winner Philippe Chiappe continuing to head the CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team, and last year’s race runner-up Sami Selio and Filip Roms hoping for a better fortune this year in their Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team.

Germany’s Mike Szymura has switched to the Maverick F1 operation, Erik Edin has replaced Erik Stark in Team Sweden alongside Jonas Andersson and German lady driver Simone Schuft has agreed to join Francesco Cantando in the Blaze F1 Team.

Victory Team has been through some serious preparations in their brand-new custom built boats at its facility in Jebel Ali. At the centre of the operations is their manager Scott Gillman — the former four-time world champion and the second most successful driver in the history of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship.

Gillman, who hails from Los Angeles, California also hold the record for an outstanding 93 per cent rate of podium finishes in his F1 powerboat racing career. Earlier this year, Victory Team announced their brand-new boats built with cutting-edge technology and a high-strength hull constructed from carbon fibre, Kevlar, synthetic fibre, Airex and Nomex. The F1 boat is powered by a 2.5-litre, two-stroke Mercury engine that pumps out 400hp at 9,500rpm with the capacity to accelerate from 0-100km/h in just four seconds and the capability of reaching 220km/h flat out.

“Honestly, we can’t wait to see our new boats running,” Gillman told Gulf News from Italy where the team has been testing for the past one week.

“We are very happy to have the four-time world champion Alex [Carella] in the company of a talented Emirati driver like Ahmad [Al Hameli]. Given this talent, I feel confident we can be on the top of the podium regularly during the season,” he added.

The American driver was proud to belong to a set-up like Victory Team. “I feel very confident for all the support we have from Victory Team. Not only did we get the opportunity to build new boats and do a lot of testing, but we have got that feel of a family where we can achieve for the Victory Team,” Gillman added.