Saturday, 21 December, SHARJAH (UAE): Sweden’s Jonas Andersson did everything in his power in his bid to win his first UIM F1H2O World Championship with a lap-perfect drive to win the Grand Prix of Sharjah, only to have the title cruelly snatched from his grasp on the final lap by defending champion Shaun Torrente.
Going into the race with a five point deficit and starting from pole with his Team Abu Dhabi title rival in fifth, a win for Andersson with Torrente finishing in third would have given him the title and that is how the pair ran for 44 of 45 laps with CTIC F1’s Philippe Chiappe the man in the middle.
But half way round the final lap Chiappe slowed with a trim issue, Torrente moved up into second and followed Andersson across the finishing line to retain his title, the two title rivals finishing the season tied on 79 points apiece with Torrente winning on countback. “Sure it is nice to get the win but this was my chance for the championship and it doesn’t come every year.” said Andersson. “I am very disappointed I was fast all race and in the end to win but lose out when you have the same points is very hard to take.”
It is the first time in the championship’s four decade 36 year history that the world title has been decided on countback with Torrente winning his second successive championship with a better second place tally. “We tried to keep it quiet in the paddock that we had a hurt engine which we damaged in qualifying but the team did everything to make sure it got me round,” Torrente said. “It was only an hour before the race that we decided not to change it, roll the dice and go with it. It held out but the last five laps it was way down but got me to the end.
“It was an amazing situation really dramatic. The three of us were the class of the field and just went away from everybody else. I don’t know what happened to Philippe but Jonas did a great job did everything he could and had to. Today we had that bit of luck that we all need sometimes.”
Poland’s Bartek Marszalek produced by far his best drive of the year and career result, moving up from ninth off the dock and scything his way through the field to finish in third to take his first podium and highest year-end finish. “This is a great result and we deserve it after so many years,” he said. “It was our time and place and I am confident I will be able to repeat this moment. This is a Christmas present for my dad, the team and my family.”
Fourth place went to Torrente’s teammate Thani Al Qemzi with Team Sharjah’s Sami Selio picking up his best result of the season in fifth ahead of the ailing Chiappe.
F1 Atlantic’s Alberto Comparato matched his best finish of the season in seventh, as did Victory’s David Del Pin in eighth with Cedric Deguisne picking up his first points of the season in ninth and the last of the finishers.
Alex Carella was the most dramatic exit on the list of retirees with 10 of the 18 starters failing to go the distance, Carella’s crash on lap seven bringing out the first yellow flag the second waved on lap 14 for the rescue team to replace a damaged turn buoy.
Despite her retirement on lap 23 after running in the top six Emirates Racing’s Marit Stromoy held on with 37 points to earn her highest overall championship finish, ending the season on the prestigious year-end podium in third.
UIM F1H2O GRAND PRIX OF SHARJAH – AMENDED result
1. Jonas Andersson (swe)
2. Shaun Torrente (usa/*uae) + 6.24s
3. Bartek Marszalek (pol) + 8.28s
4. Sami Selio (fin) + 16.26s
5. Philippe Chiappe (fra) + 20.22s
6. Alberto Comparato (ita) + 1lap
7. David Del Pin (ita/*uae) + 1lap
8. Cedric Deguisne (fra) +2laps
(Boat nos 2 Thani Al Qemzi post-race disqualification )
UIM F1H2O WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS – top 6
1. Shaun Torrente (usa/*uae) – 79pts
2. Jonas Andersson (swe) – 79pts
3. Marit Stromoy (nor) – 37pts
4. Thani Al Qemzi (uae) – 27pts
5. Bartek Marszalek (pol) – 26pts
6. Alex Carella (ita/*uae) – 25pts