F1H2O World Championship
Grand Prix of Portugal – Porto
Veteran Finnish driver Sami Selio struggled through early day mishaps to fight his way back up to the top spot earning his 23rd career pole position and will start ahead of a 20 boat field for tomorrow’s 14th Grand Prix of Portugal at the third round of the 2015 UIM F1 H2O World Championship for powerboating.
The 40 year-old driver from Helsinki, earned his first pole position since Abu Dhabi of 2013, setting a blistering 47.59 second lap for a speed of 163.40 kph around the 2.158 kilometer (1.34 mile) circuit in front of tens of thousands of race fans on a spectacular sun drenched afternoon on the Douro River.
The Mad Croc Baba Racing Team driver was only the third driver of the day to crack a sub 48 second lap on a day when the top five drivers of the final Q3 qualifying battle for pole position were less than one second apart at the end.
“I was really happy on how we dug ourselves out of a hole today,” said Sami. “Now we can focus on the race tomorrow and know that it will be a real challenge with racing on the Douro River with tides and wind playing a real factor in the late afternoon. It’s been nine races since I last won and I’m really hungary to get back on top as well as push for a better position in the championship at the end of the weekend.”
Finishing .16 of second behind was defending World Champion Philippe Chiappe of France on the CTIC China Team as his French built Moore boat couldn’t quiet match the speed of the Italian BABA machine of Selio.
“We thought we had done enough for pole with a 47.75 second lap,” said Philippe. “We are now going to have to get a “jack-rabbit” type of start in order to out drag Sami, but it is a long way down to the commitment buoy and we’ll try out best to out-duel him tomorrow.”
Taking third with a 47.92 second lap and a speed of 162.27 kph was three-time World Champion Alex Carella of the Team Abu Duabi organization just.33 of a second off pole in the end for the Italian driver who is looking for his first ever win in Portugal.
Fourth was young driver Erik Stark of Sweden in the Emirates Team boat. In just his ninth F1 start, Erik ran a 48.32 second lap at 160.93 kph in his first ever Grand Prix in Portugal for Team Manager ex-two time Portuguese winner Scott Gillman.
Fifth fast is Driver Points Championship leader Shaun Torrente for the Victory Team. The American managed a 48.50 second lap and 160.33 kph lap despite lack of time in the boat throughout the day because of engine trouble. The Florida driver is hoping to maintain his five point advantage at the end of tomorrows Grand Prix.
Rounding out the top-six in the shootout was UAE driver Thani Al Qemzi as the veteran driver returned to the racing series for the first time since December of 2014 joining his teammate Alex Carella with both Team Abu Dhabi boats gaining solid top-six positions off the dock for tomorrow’s first Grand Prix event back in Portugal since 2011.
Rounding out the top-10 were, last race winner Youssef Al-Rubayan of Kuwait in the Portuguese based F1 CG ATLANTIC Team in seventh; Ahmed Al Hameli driving the second Emirates Team boat in eighth and Swedish driver Jonas Andersson in a Danish Molgaard boat for Team Sweden was ninth.
Last of the top-10 drivers was Portugal’s “favorite son” Duarte Benavente in his new MOORE built boat from France finishing with a 50.19 time as he chases his sixth career podium in his 122nd start on Sunday.
Round three of the 2015 UIM F1 H2O World Championship series will take place on Sunday afternoon the second of August at 17:15 local (16:15 GMT) and 12:15 EDT on the East Coast of North America. The 14th Grand Prix of Portugal can be watched live via the tours worldwide television broadcast feed by going to the series official website at www.f1h2o.com.