Gp Of China Marks Start Of 2nd Half Of 2006 U.I.M. F1 Season!!
LAUSANNE, Switzerland – 9th of September, 2006 – The U.I.M. F1 World Championship Series for powerboat racing returns to the lovely and exotic country of China for the 5th time in its history on the 4th and 5th of October to mark the turning point of the 2006 season as the city of Chongzhou hosts the 4th round of the championship.
The U.I.M. F1 powerboat racing history goes back to the 1995 season when the tour stopped at the city of Hangzhou to one of the largest crowds in the history of the sport. Italian Guido Cappellini took the victory in front of close to one-half a million spectators that day when 10,000 local policemen were needed to be on hand to watch the excited throng of people that pushed their way to see F1 powerboat racing for the first time around the circuit.
The next event was at Wuzi in 1996 and again the native of Como, Italy took the victory marking his 6th straight in a season in which he was able to win a record 8 victories in 9 races. A return to China for the 3rd straight year marked the first time the series raced in Xiamen near the South China Sea and Jonathan Jones of Wales came away with his 2nd to last career victory in 1997.
The series returned to China for the first time in the 21st century when in 2004 American Scott Gillman controlled the event winning from the pole in downtown Shanghai on his way to his 3rd World Championship.
This season it’s Cappellini who leads the championship in search of his record breaking 10th World Title. He has accumulated 40 points thanks to two straight wins in the season’s previous three starts at Portimao, Portugal and Como, Italy. The Tamoil Racing number one driver has not however won in China in ten years.
Cappellini needs another victory to establish some breathing space from the two Emirates Team drivers of Thani Al Qamzi and Scott Gillman. Thani, has 31 points with a season best 2nd place finish in Como as he chases his first ever victory on the tour. His teammate Scott Gillman, lost the lead in the championship after dropping out of the Grand Prix of Italy in July and now has slipped to 3rd with 30 points as he searches for his first win of the season and his 2nd in China.
Rookie driver Ivan Brigada of the Tamoil Team took the opening round of the championship winning at the Grand Prix of Qatar but has struggled since then with a pair of accidents in Portugal and Italy. He is still a long shot for the title accumulating 20 points and should bring a strong presence in Chongzhou.
The next four drivers in the title chase are within 1 point of each other led by Italian Fabio Comparato who is 5th in the standings with 13 points with a 3rd at the Grand Prix of Portugal being his best result thus far this season.
French pilot Philippe Dessertenne, Australian Bob Trask and Italian Massimo Roggiero all are tied with 12 points for 6th position. Philippe and Massimo both have podiums with 3rd place finishes as their best result, while Bob Trask looks for his first ever podium finishing a career best 5th in Doha, Qatar at the start of the season.
Rookie Jonas Andersson of Sweden, along with veteran drivers Duarte Benavente of Portugal and David Trask of Australia, all have 9 points and are tied for 9th in the title. Andersson’s best was a 4th in his only finish in Portugal, while Benavente’s 5th at Como has been his highlight of the season while David Trask had a career best tying 4th in Italy.
A total of 21 drivers have scored points this season with a few surprises in this group including American Jay Price with the Qatar Team stepping up to F1 at the seasons 2nd race in Portimao, just missing a podium finish at the Grand Prix of Italy when he ran short of fuel with a lap to finish to take a disappointing 6th position. Another driver, Italian Francesco Cantando of the Singha Team, who is usually in the middle of the championship, is struggling to get going this season with only a 7th place in Portugal for his efforts.
Red Devil driver Sami Selio of Helsinki, Finland who was 2nd in the championship a year ago is also hitting hard times with just a 6th place at the Grand Prix of Qatar followed by a pair of failures to finish at Portugal and Italy.
The first half of the year is now in the history books and as the season now changes direction to the Far and Middle East for the remainder of the campaign, the question remains if Italian Guido Cappellini can retain his edge in the championship or will his European success where he went two for two lose it’s magic as the series heads east. Time will tell as we move into the final three months of the season.