When writing a preview to the start of a new UIM F2 World Championship season, trying to predict who will finish in the top three positions on the leader board come the finale in Abu Dhabi, it’s often easier to look back and suggest it’s bound to be the same familiar faces looking back at you with their medals around their necks.
So, rather than stick my younger neck on the line I will listen to the new UIM F2 Race Director, Pelle Larsson who suggested that both Tobias Munthe Kaas and Brent Dillard will be there or there about when the dust has settled in Abu Dhabi.
Munthe Kaas told me:
For Pelle to say that is a compliment.
The Norwegian racer came very close to finishing in the medal places last season.
After his superb second place at his home Grand Prix his championship title prospect was literally blown away when he crashed out in Q3 at the Portuguese Grand Prix.
Since then he’s used the slightly later start date to the 2019 F2 season to his advantage by carrying out several tests’ sessions.
Back in May his team were at the Drammen Sportsbåtteam test weekend at Akkerhaugen.
I got plenty of seat time there which was so important as it gave us plenty of opportunities to test all our props and engines.
Just going testing as we all know can give you a false sense of security, so to get a better idea of the team’s progress Munthe Kaas raced at the Drammen round of the Norwegian Championship.
He won all three heats:
What I found surprising is that there are five F2 boats in Norway, which would make great National Championship.
This year in Drammen there were just three boats in my class and only me with plans for the World Championship.
I think this is strange as the other drivers for sure need the practice.
Drammen showed they have a strong package, but they are well aware that this season will be tough one.
I consider all my competitors as a threat in some way.
To keep up with the drivers from Team Abu Dhabi will be a hard battle especially as they host the final round in the UAE.
Actually, I have been in Abu Dhabi at all F1H2O races since 2007, now it’s my time to shine there.
Brent Dillard has a slightly different take on how to deal with the competition:
When I played College basketball my coach always told us to just focus on what we can do to get better and not worry about what the competition is doing.
I know there are a lot of great drivers and teams out there, but my philosophy is if we just focus on what we are doing then we will be there in Abu Dhabi competing for the overall championship title come December.
In the meantime, the man from South Carolina has been clocking up those Air Miles making regular trans-Atlantic crossings to test with his new mentor, 2018 UIM F2 World Champion Alberto Comparato in the DAC hull that the young Italian won the title with:
As of now we have only worked on getting the DAC as comfortable as we can for myself and the balance right.
We have one more test session in Italy, that’s where we will set up an identical course layout to the one we will race on to test the props.
Whilst in Italy Comparato (above right) will also be advising him on changing his aggressive “American” style of driving to a smoother style of racing:
In America we learn to drive more aggressively because of the inverted heat racing we do there, you don’t need that here, plus he has also been working with me on taking the right hand turns which I found tricky in my first season.
Probably the most significant aspect to racing F2, which Comparato mastered last season making a consistently fast lap by himself on the course:
In the F2 World Championship you win the race on Saturday in the Q3 shootout, which is what we have been working on.
In the early stages of Dillard’s tunnel boat racing career his Father, Steve Dillard with the full support of Dillard Financial Solutions enlisted the services of Shaun Torrente to mentor the young racer.
The last time I trained with Shaun he was racing with the Victory Team and we were training for Formula 1 in the States.
After two solid days of training and after I thought we were all done Shaun came on the radio and told me ‘now I want you to run two laps back to back and get the fastest one of the two days’.
I didn’t know it then, but he was referring to the Q3 ‘Shootout’.
I wasn’t running in Europe then but now I understand that when you train and you are tired it’s nice to have someone put pressure on you at the end of the test to run your best lap and that’s what Comparato and me are working on now.
His training with Torrente (above)hasn’t stopped though:
Even now we talk a lot but instead of testing in the boat it’s more training on the mental aspect of racing on the world stage which helps because I’m trying to follow in his footsteps.
My father has given me the ‘Best of the Best’ in all categories and I’m excited and extremely thankful he has put this team together this year to give me the best possible chance to win the UIM F2 World Championship title.
This season is shaping up to be a tough one for both racer and machine.
Four Grand Prix in twelve weeks with many kilometres in between will be hard for everyone but as they say nothing great comes easy, and nothing easy can ever equate to greatness.
Chris Davies ARPS, has been photographing and writing about powerboat racing since 1987.