Following the first round of the Formula 2 World Championships in Peurunka, Finland, which saw Matthew involved in a first turn incident, damaging his boat, forcing him to retire from the race and leaving the venue with zero points, the team headed to Campione D’Italia, Switzerland for round 2.
Not deterred by the team’s disappointment in Finland, Matthew contacted multiple time World Champion, Massimo Roggiero, who allowed him the pleasure of driving one of his famous BaBa boats.
The team drove to the BaBa factory in Busto Arsizio, Italy for some last minute boat preparations, then made their way to the race venue following a day of testing the boat in San Nazzaro, making sure everything was in working order and Matthew can have some extra time in the boat prior to the race.
Day one was rather frustrating due to extreme weather and a delay in ambulance presence.
The boats managed to get on to the water and eventually completed two sessions of Free Practice. Due to 25 entries and a water approval of 20, the sessions were split in to A and B, with each group allowed an hour to get used to the course and see which propeller suited the water conditions best. Matthew went second quickest in the free practice session, with a 44.94 second lap, just behind Germany’s Stefan Hagin who put down a 44.28. Due to the delays of the day, qualifying was moved to day two, for what would become a jam packed schedule which also included a repecharge race and the main event of the weekend, the Grand Prix.
Day two also saw a mixture of blazing sun and torrential rain, but fortunately did not affect the tight time schedule. After easily making it through qualifying rounds one and two, Matthew found himself in session three, a ten boat shootout, with each driver getting two laps, alone on the course in an attempt to secure the fastest time.
It was Stefan Hagin to beat once again with a lap time of 45.94, when Matthew’s turn came around, Hagin was beaten with a 45.03, putting him at the top. Only two drivers stood between Matthew and his first ever Pole position, which was taken away by Sweden’s Pierre Lundin, who achieved a rapid 44.19 second lap, putting Matthew in 2nd position for the Grand Prix.
Twenty boats lined up on the start pontoon, for what turned out to be a staggered get away due to an issue with the lights. Though Lundin was unfazed and powered towards the first turn, with no red flag for the light error, this left Matthew with 45 laps to chase him down. During lap 14 whilst passing back markers, there was unfortunately a coming together with Sweden’s Bimba Sjoholm, leaving Matt with damage and Sjoholm out of the race.
Getting closer to Lundin, the BaBa hull lost a deck hatch due to the rough conditions, leaving the boat liable to take on water, making the boat more difficult to drive as the race went on. Despite Matt’s efforts, he was unable to close the gap on Lundin and switched to “get me home mode” in order to take the boat safely past the chequered flag in second position, 30 seconds ahead of third place, Erik Edin, also from Sweden.
Photos: Photos: Emilio Carabelli
John raced Offshore UIM Class 3 in the 1980’s & 1990’s.
He served as the Cowes Torquay Cowes Event Director for 4 years, including running the 50 th Anniversary Event in 2010.
He has recently organised 4 British Offshore races under UKOPRA sanction.
He is the Editor of Powerboat Racing World.