ABU DHABI - April 8, 2013 - It has been said, 'time, heals all wounds'.
For double World Champion Sami Selio of Finland, it's taken precious time. But, the driver on the UIM F1 H2O World Championship tour looks to be finally healing mentally as well as physically and is ready to push for a coveted third World Drivers Championship.
His journey's first step will take place at the season's opening round at the first annual Grand Prix of Brazil in Brasilia on the weekend of the 1st and 2nd of June.
The number one driver of the Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team, was in the midst of challenging for a third title two seasons ago when at the Grand Prix of China in Liuzhou he had a monumental crash. The accident, not only ended his season, but forced him into serious rehabilitation over the winter prior to the start of the 2012 campaign and by his own admission, changed him.
"After my huge accident at the Chinese Grand Prix back in 2011, the passion I've had for powerboat racing, ever since I was a young boy, simply went away," admitted a very candid Selio.
Despite a podium third place result at the first event of 2012 and a victory two races later at the Kiev Region Grand Prix, Selio admits he was still missing something, the motivation to push for another world title.
"When I went out to qualify for the Grand Prix I would settle on a third or fourth place on the grid. I was never pushing it to the edge, which is what I would have done in the past. OK, in Sharjah, I took the pole position but then after the Grand Prix where I finished fifth, I was walking back to the hotel and the fact that I had lost second place in the championship just didn't seem to bother me."
This is hard to believe from one of the series all-time leaders in qualifying in the four decade history of the sport with 19 career pole positions and a record eight poles in one season back in 2009.
Two weeks following Sharjah and just before Christmas Selio began to suffer bouts of depression.
"It's really hard to describe how you feel, but by admitting that there's something wrong means you are on the road to recovery."
Fortunately, for the 10 time winner on the tour, the 2013 World Championship doesn't start its season until the first week of June in South America. This has given Selio the time he needs to fully recover and refocus his drive and determination. A key to this may be his new strenuous work out regime with high altitude training near his winter home in Tenerife.
With the long winter break, it has given the team plenty of time to prepare for the coming campaign.
"This is the first time in over two years that we have had the time to send the boats back to the Baba workshop in Italy for a major overhaul before the first round. In years past, it has been the teams in Qatar and Abu Dhabi that have that luxury, while the European based teams have waited for their containers to arrive. This gives us extra confidence this season."
The 37 year-old from Helsinki feels his young teammate, Filip Roms, who is still a teenager and in his second season, should take his racing game to the 'next level'.
"During the 2012 campaign, the team just asked him to finish the race. This year, we are expecting more from him. Filip needs to develop an understanding of which propellers to run, as well as making his own decisions on how the boat should be set up for both qualifying and the Grand Prix."
Leading his team that is now firmly focused on the opening round taking place in the Federal Capital of Brazil, Selio is eagerly looking forward to the start of the season with a renewed vigor.
"We first started talking about a race in Brazil some 15 years ago and now it looks like we're finally going to make the trip. I always love new venues and with the excellent organization and set up there I can't wait till June. In the meantime, we've worked really hard on preparation, after all, it's a long way to send your equipment and come away with no points. We defiantly don't want that to happen."
Sami, will be looking to improve on his winning percentage having won just once in his last 13 starts as he chases his 11th career Grand Prix victory trophy. Selio's 113 race starts in his 14 years of F1 racing is the second most active and fifth all-time in the four decade history of the sport for the 2007 and 2010 World Champion.
His new found confidence is also reflected in his own well being.
"Having the long winter has helped me get better and now I'm back to full fitness. The hunger has returned!
I have enjoyed the training regime and I'm not worried about the new BMI test. In the past, I would have been very close to the limit but this year I'm in much better shape. More importantly, the focus is back 100% in both my mind and my eye sight. I can't wait to 'get it on.' Let's go racing!"
The 30th Anniversary racing season of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship for powerboating begins on the weekend of the 1-2 of June for the first annual Grand Prix of Brazil in the lovely nations capital of Brasilia.
You can follow all the news leading up to the event as well as watching all the live action from Brasilia by going to the official website of the tour at www.f1h2o.com.
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|UIM F1H2O World Championship|
|UAE||Abu Dhabi||Dec 12|
|UIM Nations Cup|
|date and venue could be changed|
|02||Philippe Chiappe||+ 34.61 secs|
|03||Duarte Benavente||+ 1 Lap|