ABU DHABI – Monday, 15 June - “Laissez le bon temps rouler” as the French say in such a dynamic way and in English it means; “Let the good times roll” and that's exactly what is expected to happen as the world of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship series comes rolling in lovely Evian next week for the 19th Grand Prix of France on the 26th thru the 28th of June.
The second stop on the 2015 calendar, along the south shore of Lake Geneva (Lac Leman), marks the sixth different locality that the race has been held in this grand pillar of F1 powerboat racing over the years dating all the way back to the series inception in the summer of 1981. Only the countries of Italy, United Arab Emirates and China have held more Grand Prix's with Euro neighbor Italy having hosted a record 39 events in the 35 year history of the sports beginnings.
During this four decade time period, pilots from seven different nations have won the event. Dutch driver Cees van der Velden captured the first Grand Prix on the 13th of September of 1981 defeating Italian Renato Molinari and British Bob Spalding at the Vichy Grand Prix.
Other cities throughout France have hosted events over the years including Lyon, Paris, Chalon-sur-Saone and La Rochelle.
The upcoming weekend brings back a long pause in the French Grand Prix cycle since the last event held along the West Coast and the city of La Rochelle in 2007. It was an historic day as current driver and two-time World Champion Sami Selio of Finland won his first career Grand Prix victory ahead of American Scott Gillman and Swedish pilot Jonas Andersson.
This sport, which features 225 km speeds with highly technical craft that are capable of hard six-g turns in the corners, marking this as the fastest turning vehicle in the racing world is truly one the most exciting as well.
This years event is expected to have drivers reaching out from 10 different nations competing in Evian lead by reigning World Champion Frenchman Philippe Chiappe of Rouen in a French built David Moore designed boat.
The well respected pilot from northern France was truly excited about racing for the first time at a home Grand Prix; “This will a special moment in my career to come here and for the first time my home Grand Prix,” said the 51 year-old driver. “It is very magnificent that I am the first French pilot to have ever won the F1 title just seven months ago and feel that this 2015 season everyone is dedicated to repeat the process.”
Chiappe went on to say: “This is my 13th full season in F1 and many times, I have felt like a past member of the “Foreign Legion” days where I was representing France but in so many far off places racing, that's why I'm so excited about being here, in Evian.”
This will mark Philippe's 93rd career F1 start, most of the time racing for the giant CTIC China organization with teammate Ziwei “Leo” Xiong alongside in his third full season.
Chiappe, is one of nine fellow French drivers who have participated in the 35 years of the sports beginnings and most successful at the same time.
Only fellow friend and now Racing Manager Philippe Dessertenne, for his CTIC China Team, had more race starts in the sport with 111 in 13 full seasons of competing. The highlight of the La Rochelle residents career came back in 2002 when he became the first French driver to win a Grand Prix when he won in Helsinki, Finland in 2002.
Meanwhile, rookie but 15 year racing veteran Christophe Larigot from Boos, will mark the tenth French pilot to grace the UIM F1 H2O paddock. He will be joining the newly named EMIC Team out of Abu Dhabi, racing along teammate Marit Stromoy of Norway.
Larigot, has many good memories and historic performances in endurance racing especially at the 24 Hours of Rouen in the S2000 and S3000 classes. This will be his first attempt in F1 and it will be interesting to see how he “settles in” at his baptism of F1 H2O racing.
Six drivers who last raced on French soil back eight years ago are expected in the drivers line-up at the Grand Prix on the 28th of June in Evian for the 15:00 local (14:00 GMT) start.
The question asked, is, will a French driver in a French built boat win for the first time at the Grand Prix of France?
You can follow both the battle for pole position and the all important starting grid positions on 27 June beginning at 16:25 local (15:25 GMT).
The second round of the 2015 UIM F1 H2) World Championship and the 19th Grand Prix of France on the 28th will be broadcast “live” around the world via the worldwide television broadcast feed that can viewed by going the tour's website at www.f1h2o.com.
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