Duarte Benavente won here in Ribadouro, Portugal twelve months ago and come Sunday, the local spectators will once again be out in huge numbers to cheer on their local ‘super-star’.
Benavente took a Silver Medal at last month’s UIM F2 European Championship in Lithuania and many of his fans will expect nothing less than a podium finish.
When I mentioned that to Benavente, he replied:
So, what do you want me say?
Sure you’re hoping for me to say that I will win here on Sunday.
Honestly, there are three drivers much quicker than me, so even a podium spot will be tough going.
The 3 drivers are World Championship leader Alberto Comparato, the reigning Norwegian Champion Tobias Munthe-Kaas and the man that beat him to the European Crown, Edgaras Riabko.
I suggested to Benavente that he could call upon his years of racing experience to upset the form book:
Experience doesn’t give you the speed you need when it comes to deciding the starting grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
If they took the times from Q2, when there are fifteen boats on the water, and set the grid from them then an experience driver would be able to find that good lap to take pole position.
You never race alone, so why should we qualify alone.
Young Italian Comparato stood next to Benavente on the podium a year ago and has now developed a taste for champagne and laurels:
When I stood on the podium at this event last year I came away with a higher level of confidence.
Sure, when we left Finland back in 2016 with a race win it felt good.
In reality though that result was more about luck and other people’s mis-fortune.
Since then the young Italian racer has spent hours in his DAC practicing on circuits that mirror those used at this years Grand Prix and to good effect.
As for his title aspirations he’s playing it rather cool even though he leads the championship by eighteen points:
This weekend my focus will be solely on the race, maybe after Sunday that might change.
Trying his hardest to close that gap will be Tobias Munthe-Kaas and he feels now is the moment to mount an all-out title bid challenge:
Winning the Norwegian Championship against some seriously quick racers has left my head in the best place possible.
We have finally solved the problems with my starts and now my goal will be the top step of that podium on Sunday night.
Comparato can’t relax just yet as I’m coming for him!
Photo: Duarte Benavente winning in Ribadouro last year