Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente took another step towards a third UIM F1H2O World Championship crown today as Sharjah Team’s Ferdinand Zandbergen recorded a memorable victory in the Grand Prix of Italy.
Torrente’s third place just adrift of team-mate Thani Al Qemzi in San Nazzaro means he now holds a 17-point championship lead over the Emirati, with two deciding rounds to follow in Sharjah in December.
For the second time in 24 hours, the technically demanding Po River circuit produced a string of casualties, with only eight of the 12 starters completing the 40-lap race.
After his convincing victory in yesterday’s Grand Prix of Regione Emilia Romagna, Torrente had to call on all his experience to grab a podium place after failing by one place to reach the six-boat qualifying shoot-out earlier in the day.
Zandbergen, in his F1H2O rookie season, took his first pole position in impressive style, and went on to produce another composed performance to score his maiden Grand Prix win.
Al Qemzi’s second place means the veteran Emirati driver still retains hope of a first individual drivers’ title, while his partnership with Torrente already looks like delivering a fifth consecutive team championship to Abu Dhabi.
Sweden’s defending champion Jonas Andersson, meanwhile, kept his hopes alive with fourth place as a pulsating Grand Prix double-header reached its conclusion.
He now trails Torrente by 21 points in third place, however, with the impressive Zandbergen climbing to fourth to underline his challenge.
Fresh from his superb win on Saturday, Torrente had earlier maintained his momentum by winning today’s first qualifying round, with Al Qemzi clocking the sixth fastest lap.
After his crash 24 hours earlier following a mechanical exit while leading the season opener in France, Sharjah Team’s Sami Selio looked to have put all that behind him as he initially set the best time in Q2.
But the Finnish driver made a spectacular exit as his boat suddenly lifted off the water and flipped 360 degrees. He was unhurt, but ruled out of the Grand Prix, although his consolation was in using the radio to guide team-mate Zandbergen to success.
Portugal’s Duarte Benavente and Norway’s Marit Stromoy were also non-starters after yesterday’s mishaps, while Frenchman Peter Morin, Finns Alec Weckstrom and Kalle Viippo and Poland’s Bartek Marszalek failed to reach the finish.
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