ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - 18th of September, 2010 – The summer break has just about come to an end and now the attention of the powerboat racing world shifts to a month long tour of China with three Grand Prix's in four weeks. It all begins on the 2nd and 3rd of October in the flourishing and dynamic northern city of Linyi, as they make their debut of hosting their first UIM F1 H2O World Championship event on the Yihe River.
The tension at the top of the drivers points championship couldn't be more intense with four drivers including two ex-World Champion's right in the fight for the lead led by Team Abu Dhabi driver Thani Al Qamzi who has 21 points, along with 2008 title holder Jay Price of the Qatar Team both scoring third and fourth place finishes after the two opening rounds at the Grand Prix's of Portugal and Russia.
Just a point behind are the two drivers who have won Grand Prix's this season with Team Abu Dhabi pilot Ahmed Al Hameli winner of the first race of 2010 in Portimao, along with a failure to finish in St. Petersburg, tied with 2007 World Champion Sami Selio of Team Mad Croc coming off his eighth career victory at the last event on the Neva River after failing to finish in Portugal back in May.
The drama doesn't stop there however, three time runner-up in the World Championship Francesco Cantando of the Singha F1 Team is holding down 15 points with a 2nd place finish in Portimao while fellow Italian rookie Alex Carella sits tied with Cantando in fifth after his second place finish in St. Petersburg in July.
“You can't get any closer in the drivers title chase and now the fun really begins for the championship,” said Price. “We are ready to go for our first win of 2010 in Linyi, and all the while, my crew has had strategy sessions this summer getting us hopefully ready to earn our second victory in China since Liuzhou of 2008.”
The driver from New Orleans in America had done well when finishing events in China, with a win along with three second places in his four complete Grand Prix events. In his career, Jay has reached the podium 17 times in his 27 finishes for an average of 63% which is third best in the history of the sport.
His chief rival Finnish driver Sami Selio has an unbelievable streak of his own, scoring pole positions at the last six Grand Prix's in China that date back to Liuzhou of 2008. The driver from Helsinki already holds the record for the most pole positions in one season, with eight set last year, and is coming off a winning performance from pole in Russia at the last Grand Prix.
In China, Selio has turned his fastest times in qualifying into victories on race day having won three of the last five races and is one win away from tying retired World Champion Guido Cappellini for most victories with Cappellini needing 12 starts to reach his mark to Selio's 10 starts.
Thani Al Qamzi has a victory in China back in Xi'an in 2007 inspired by his teammate and now Race Director of Team Abu Dhabi Scott Gilllman. The Californian ended his long and storied carrier that day when illness forced him to retire. Historically, Scott had two Grand Prix wins and a second place in the three races he finished. Al Qamzi has three podiums in the 10 races he's started in China.
Younger teammate Ahmed Al Hameli has not had the best of luck in China with just one podium finish at the Grand Prix of Shenzhen in 2008 with five mechanical failures haunting him in his most recent memories in the far east.
Francesco Cantando started his UIM F1 H2O career back in Wuxi in 1996 and has raced in China more than any other driver still active on the circuit. His best performances were a pair of runner-up seconds last season in Liuzhou and Shenzhen and overall has three podium's in the six races he's completed in the sixteen year history of coming to China,
Other noteable performances from drivers on the tour have Swedish driver Jonas Andersson of the Azerbaijan Team winning once in his previous nine starts in China earning victory at last years Grand Prix in Liuzhou while picking up a podium third the next week in Shenzhen.
Portugal's Duarte Benavente has scored seven top 10's in his ten race starts, while teammate on the Atlantic Team German Fabian Kalsow had his best afternoon as a driver thus far with a fourth at the Grand Prix in Shenzhen a season ago.
Pierre Lundin of Sweden driving for the CTIC China Team has finished fifth or better in the five races he's completed in China including a personal best third at last years event in Liuzhou.
A grueling schedule is about to begin in less than two weeks and drivers from around the world will once again gather at a new venue in the exotic country of the Far East, China, for the start of a three race marathon that will go a long way in determining the 2010 UIM F1 H2O World Championship.
One thing is for sure, there is no clear favorite for the title and this scrum of drivers fighting their way to a title will only get better as the month of October rolls along. Stay tuned.
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