Teammate Brigada And Gillman Look To Change Ending!
LAUSANNE, Switzerland - 23rd of May, 2006 –The one big question on everybody’s mind is if Italian Guido Cappellini of the Tamoil Team can re-establish his magic and win for the 7th time at a race he has dominated for almost a decade at the lovely city of Portimao. Once again this historic city plays host to the 8th Annual Grand Prix of Portugal this weekend on the 27th and 28th of May in front of what should be tens of thousands of race fans here along the tourist haven of the Algarve coast of Southern Portugal.
The first race of the European calendar is expected to have a full field of 26 drivers all looking for the same formula that Cappellini has used for so many years to dominate this event. Of all the races, last years event was the native from Como’s toughest victory beating American Scott Gillman of the Emirates Team by just three boat lengths after passing him with two pins to go on the final lap to win his first of four victories on his way to his 9th World Title.
Cappellini, has a real problem however, almost desperate, now chasing points after a less than spectacular being of the season a month again at the Grand Prix of Qatar. In the event, he failed to finish as his engine exploded into a fire ball on the front straight away after qualifying a disappointed 9th.
Rookie Teammate Ivan Brigada took full advantage of Cappellini’s misfortunes and controlled the race after qualifying on the pole in the second Tamoil machine in only the 4th start of his career. Brigada, who may have gotten away with a little luck having just missed crashing his boat more than 4 times in the final 10 laps in Doha, showed the skills of a future champion by holding off 3-time world title holder Scott Gillman who took 2nd place.
The native of Los Angeles is the only other driver to win in Portimao taking the 2004 race on his way to his 3rd World Championship. Gillman, who led every race a year ago but failed to win in all but one, leads his chief rival Cappellini by a 15 point cushion and maybe trying a new strategy of just finishing rather than winning each event as he tried a year ago. This plan worked in 2000 and may just work again in 2006 but the season has a long way to run until the final two Emirates rounds in December.
French driver Philippe Dessertenne of La Rochelle had a great weekend in Doha, qualifying and finishing 3rd but has not put together a string of good finishes in Portimao. In seven previous races he has just one podium back in 2001 along with 3 times failing to finish the event. He thinks he can do a lot better this time but will need to get into the top-6 qualifying “shootout” for the first time if he is going to have a shot at a win. Teammate Philippe Chiappe finished a career best 8th in Doha and is looking for his first ever top 10 in Portugal.
Thani Al Qamzi of the Emirates Team, fourth in the championship, is also looking for better results in Portugal after three previous starts. His best finish thus far has been a 7th a year ago, while Australian Bob Trask is coming off his career best 5th in Qatar and has one top-10 finish at the Grand Prix of Portugal back in 2003 with an 8th place result.
Finland’s Sámi Selio of the Red Devil Seliö F1 Team is a legitimate runner for the world title but came away with a less than spectacular showing in Doha finishing 6th after starting 6th. In Portugal, the driver from Helsinki is hoping to at least improve on his podium finish when he took a 2nd back in 2002 and steers his Red Devil sponsored machine to a first ever victory on the tour.
The Singha Racing Team of Italians Francesco Cantando and Max Moreschi had mixed feelings after the opening round of 2006 with the Monza native Moreschi finishing a career best 7th while his lead teammate Cantando crashed out when his boat took on water while chasing a podium finish early in the race. Cantando has crashed out while leading in Portimao and has 3 runner-up results in 2000, 2003 and 2004 as he chases his 12th career F1 win.
Native son Duarte Benavente was 9th at the opening event and here on home ground has two top-5’s and five top 10’s in seven previous starts. Atlantic Teammate Andy Elliott of Great Britain failed to finish a year ago and has 3 top-10 placements in Portugal.
Italian Fabio Comparato of the Comparato Racing group is hoping to keep two streaks alive having first of all finished every race in Portimao and secondly has finished on the podium for the last three straight years. Always a threat to win, Fabio will once again be hard to be kept off the podium.
New drivers who are expected to arrive in Portimao and make an impact are Sweden’s Jonas Andersson, American Jay Price and China’s Lin Wu Peng.
As we move to race week and the 8th Annual Grand Prix of Portugal, you have to wonder if Guido Cappellini, who has only come back three times in his racing career to win the title after trailing in points after the first event, can do it again this season and make another impact at the race in Portimao. Scott Gillman, who had to come from behind in two of those three years that eh won the title, leads Cappellini by 15 points just underway in the 2006 campaign. It is early in the season but a question is looming; Is Cappellini panicking yet? We’ll soon find out the answer to this and many more answers this weekend at the U.I.M. F1 World Championship as it comes to the Arade River in beautiful Portimao in Portugal.