Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente and Thani Al-Qemzi head to England this weekend to take part in the new Grand Prix of London, a thrilling addition to the UIM F1 H2O World Championship calendar that is sure to attract many thousands of new followers to the sport in the heart of England’s capital.
Race officials have devised a course on the River Thames in the centre of East London and the Emirati duo will be hoping to build upon the tremendous start to a season that saw Torrente and Thani Al-Qemzi claim first and second overall for the team running out of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) in last month’s Grand Prix of Portugal.
The race at Royal Victoria Dock is being organised by BRM Europe UK with permission from Idea Marketing SA and under the auspices of the UIM and the Royal Yachting Association (RYA). It will take place on a 1.72km, three-pin elongated rectangular-type course where Torrente is convinced boats will top speeds of 230km/h on the two 850-metre straights.
Championship leader Torrente said:
I’m really excited about this weekend.
I am in Italy for final preparations.
I have a brand new boat in Italy that is identical to my race boat and we are going to test some new propellers for the course.
It’s going to be amazing to be in London, with all the history and the culture and the large fan base, but the racecourse is going to be very different for us drivers.
It’s more like I used to race in the United States with long straights and one-pin turns. I’ve had a lot of experience with that.
That is the positive, but the negative is it’s a bit less fun because the course is less technical.
The hard thing is getting the boats that are no longer designed to go on such long straights to handle at high speeds on the long straights.
The plan was to work on that over two or three days before heading to London.
We are happy where we are and I, personally, want to go for another win.
Team Abu Dhabi faces its usual competition from the likes of three-time World Champion Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team – who finished third in Portugal – and the Victory Team duo of defending World Champion Alex Carella and his team-mate Ahmed Al-Hameli.
They began the season with fourth and sixth-placed finishes, sandwiching Chiappe’s team-mate Peter Morin in fifth.
Two-time World Champion Sami Selio will be hoping to bounce back from disappointment in Portugal and Sweden’s Erik Edin and Norway’s Marit Strømøy will be chasing much-needed championship points.
The weekend will also mark the UIM F1 H2O racing debut of Norway’s Mette Bjerknaes in the Maverick F1 Team.
The weekend’s timetable gets underway with scrutineering and administration on Friday morning (June 15) and teams will be permitted to carry out extra free practice between 15.00hrs and 17.00hrs.
Free practice and time trials for the F4 entrants get underway at 09.00hrs on Saturday morning and precede official F1 practice from 10.15hrs.
The first of the two F4 races takes centre stage at 14.30hrs and BRM Qualifying for F1 boats starts at 15.30hrs.
Further F4 practice and time trials start at 09.10hrs on Sunday morning (June 17) and F1 crews will be permitted a one-hour warm-up from 10.15hrs. The green flag will be waved for the second of the F4 races at 13.30hrs and the flagship Grand Prix of London is scheduled for 15.00hrs.
2018 Grand Prix of London – provisional entries (unofficial):
Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi
Shaun Torrente (USA) Team Abu Dhabi
Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team
Peter Morin (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team
Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team
Alex Carella (ITA) Victory Team
Marit Strømøy (NOR) Emirates Racing Team
Bartek Marszalak (POL) Emirates Racing Team
Grant Trask (AUS) F1 Atlantic Team
Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team
Erik Edin (SWE) Team Sweden
Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden
Sami Selio (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team
Filip Roms (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team
Francesco Cantando (ITA) Blaze F1 Team
Simone Schuft (DEU) Blaze F1 Team
Erik Stark (SWE) or Mike Szymura (DEU) Maverick F1 Team
Cédric Deguisne (FRA) Maverick F1 Team
Mette Bjerknaes (SWE) Maverick F1 Team
2018 UIM F1 H2O World Championship – standings after round 1:
1. Shaun Torrente (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 20pts
2. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 15pts
3. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 12pts
4. Alex Carella (ITA) Victory Team 9pts
5. Peter Morin (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 7pts
6. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team 5pts
7. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team 4pts
8. Francesco Cantando (ITA) Blaze F1 Team 3pts
9. Erik Edin (SWE) Team Sweden 2pts
10. Erik Stark (SWE) Maverick F1 Racing 1pt
2018 UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Championship – standings after round 1:
1. Shaun Torrente (USA) Team Abu Dhabi 20pts
2. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 15pts
3. Alex Carella (ITA) Victory Team 12pts
4. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team 9pts
5. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 7pts
6. Peter Morin (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 5pts