DOHA - (Wednesday, March 11, 2015) - The start of the 32nd season of racing on the UIM F1 H2O World Championship tour is just a few days away, for the 11th Grand Prix of Qatar on Doha Bay on the 13th and 14th of March. As the curtain rises, there will be a totally new portrait of personnel, as the paddock will welcome new faces as the series also heads off to new places in its next 10 months of racing.
The biggest news during the off-season came from Abu Dhabi just a matter of a few weeks ago, when longtime Team Abu Dhabi Race Manager Scott Gillman was replaced by Italian legend Guido Cappellini.
These two "Hall-of-Fame" drivers were known for their bitter 10 year rivalry as they faced off against each other from 1997 to 2007. Cappellini, the driver from Como, Italy came away winning five titles to Californian Gillman's four. When the rivalry came to an end, both drivers during this era, displayed almost identical race records in a hectic time that historians of the sport will soon not to forget.
Now, off the water, Scott, who was a full-time Manager for the Team Abu Dhabi organization for almost a decade has decided to push on and start his own organization that will be known as the Emirates Team.
At the moment, Scott's only choice for driver is his Team Abu Dhabi ex-pilot Ahmed Al Hameli who started with the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) back in 2006 with six victories in 60 race starts. A second driver is expected to join the team by the next event on the schedule.
Meanwhile, Guido has persuaded old friend and three-time World Championship driver Alex Carella to leave Team Qatar and come over to join him on Team Abu Dhabi.
Fourteen year veteran Thani Al Qamzi, who has seven victories in 111 race starts, will stay with the organization and be Carella's teammate in 2015 producing a strong one-two combination in the battle for the Team Championship medal for the upcoming campaign.
Alex, who has been sensational in the past four years with the Qatar Team, arrives in Abu Dhabi with 10 victories in only 32 race starts in his five seasons of racing.
Carella, came into the final event last year, hoping to tie the all-time mark of four straight world titles, set ironically by his new boss Cappellini. He failed accomplish this feat, coming eight points shy of CTIC China Team pilot Philippe Chiappe at seasons end as the Frenchman won his first title while Carella's winning streak of winning titles came to an end.
For the Qatar Team, their line-up this weekend on home waters at the 11th Grand Prix of Qatar will be squarely focused with the American hot shoe Shaun Torrente.
The driver from Miami, Florida comes back to Doha Bay liking his chances by having lead the last four race events winning two of the last three Grand Prix's held here since 2013.
Meanwhile, new destinations also will be a big story for the year. The premiere stop being on the Northern region of Portugal to the ancient city of Porto on the Rio Douro on the weekend of the 1st and 2nd of August.
Porto, is a thrilling jumble of architectural styles from ornately tiled churches to Art Deco shops and down by the riverside the Ponte de Dom Luis 1 Bridge stands out in this 2000 year old city.
With new cities in Europe and a possible site or two in Asia sprinkling up the possibilities for the near future along with the traditional stops in Liuzhou, China, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, 2015 looks like a start of a new era for the sport of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship. Added to this the new teams and new teammates the mix of the season will be full of surprises as the curtain goes up starting this Friday afternoon on the 13th when official qualifying takes place on the western edge of Doha Bay along the corniche at the waterfront of city center in Doha, Qatar for the 11th Grand Prix of Qatar.
You can follow all the "live" qualifying action on water for the battle for pole position taking place at 15:30 local time (12:30 GMT) and 7:30 EST in North America by going to the tours official website at www.f1h2o.com with live statistics as well as the live international worldwide television broadcast.
Be In The Know - With F1 H2O!