Emirates Team Dominates The F1 Season Statistics!!
LAUSANNE, Switzerland – 30th of December, 2006 – No one who attended the opening round of the 25th Anniversary season of the U.I.M. F1 World Championship at the Grand Prix of Qatar, could have imaged that this years long struggle for supremacy on the water would come down to a dramatic 50 lap shootout, 8 months later at the Grand Prix of Sharjah.
The storyline couldn’t have been more exciting. The two best drivers in the world with 12 titles between them, gunning it out for a World Title at days end. When the smoke cleared and with the sun setting in the late afternoon, it was the American Scott Gillman standing tall and capturing his 4th World Title in 10 years. His championship gave the Emirates Team their most dominate season in their brief history of the sport.
The native from Los Angeles, California used a different philosophy in 2006. Rather than proving he was fastest, as he showed in 2005, by leading every race but failing to capture the title. This time around, he paced himself and was consistent, finishing with a win at the Grand Prix of China, while reaching the podium 4 different times in the six races to take the title with 69 points.
“We knew we didn’t have the fastest boat this season, so we changed our method of attack,” said Scott. “Having raced now into my 19th season, I knew we could still win if we just continued to reach the podium and pressured the people up front into mistakes. That’s what we did, and that’s why we are wearing the crown again this season.”
Gillman, enjoying his 10th season in the championship, pulled off a real gamble at his home Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi. While leading in points, late in the season, he switched boat hulls from his older DAC to a new BABA boat. He felt his older hull wasn’t a winner any more and made the change. He would eventually finish 2nd in the race before electing to switch back to the DAC for the season finale in Sharjah, always looking for an edge on the competition. The 47 year-old has now taken the title two of the last three season’s and has won the championship almost half the amount of years he has raced on the circuit since joining it full time back in 1997. His four titles have now moved him into 2nd place all-time along with 22 wins and 51 podiums in just 86 career starts.
The Emirates Team also saw the rising of their younger number two driver in Thani Al Qamzi, who came into his own this season. The 28 year-old from Abu Dhabi, captured the season’s final event at the Grand Prix of Sharjah winning convincingly from pole position for his first ever victory. He finished the season with 3 podium appearances and a real shot at the title eventually taking third in points with 63. He may have won the coveted crown but due to a propeller breakage that took him out of the Grand Prix of China, his dreams of the number one spot were doomed and now puts this goal on hold for the 2007 season. Together, he and Scott gave the team two wins and 7 total podiums and the Team Championship with 132 points when all was said and done.
Defending World Champion Guido Cappellini of the Tamoil Team lost the title despite winning half the races taking wins at the Grand Prix’s of Portugal, Como and Abu Dhabi. He had almost a mirrored campaign of Gillman in 2005 when he dominated at times but just couldn’t put together an effort that could close out the title. His failures to finish at the opening round at Doha along with another mechanical miscue at Sharjah spelled disaster for his run at his 10th championship. Under pressure at the Grand Prix of China by his arch-rival Gillman, he made a rare mistake and took out a turn buoy at the sharp 180 degree turn on the course and was penalized a lap, finishing 6th on the day. This misjudgement forced Guido to now chase Gillman from behind in the point’s race with two events to go in the season. The native of Como, Italy did a great job in moving back into a first place tie with Gillman with one race to go, but as he did in 1998, he squandered his chances by dropping out at the halfway point of the race with electrical problems handing Gillman his 4th crown. The only enjoyment the 17 year veteran of F1 could get out of the season was winning the “Qualifying Award” taking three pole positions. His 65 points were enough for 2nd in the title ledger.
The Tamoil Team had two other great young drivers this year including “Rookie-of-the-Year” winner Ivan Brigada who captured his first ever victory in dominating fashion from pole position at the season’s opening round at the Grand Prix of Qatar. His only other finish in just 5 race starts was a fine 2nd place at the final event at the Grand Prix of Sharjah. His string of bad luck was evident with two straight crashes at Portimao and Como and a non-racing accident keeping him away for the Grand Prix of China. The 26 year-old from Pavia, Italy finished 4th in championship with 35 points with a great future and now will look for even more wins in the upcoming season.
The third member of the Tamoil squad is the 2005 Rookie-of-the-Year in German driver Fabian Kalsow who showed flashes of brilliance more than once during the campaign hi-lighted by his fastest lap of the race at the Grand Prix of Como. The 25 year-old from Neustadt, Germany finished 16th in the championship with 8 points and 3 top-10 finishes with a best being a pair of 8th place runs at the Grand Prix’s of Como and China.
The team that made the most progress in the last 12 months was the XPV Racing effort finishing 3rd in the championship with 52 points. The Australian effort with brothers Bob and David Trask who have been “trading paint” for years at their national races “down under” have put their experience to good use with David coming home tied for 5th in the championship with 28 points. The younger of the two brothers, in only his 3rd season of F1 racing, reached a peak with his first podium of his career with a 3rd place in China. Despite 2 times failing to finish, he had 3 top-5’s and this one time Rookie-of-the-Year, improved in qualifying gathering his first top-6 “Shootout” at the Grand Prix of Sharjah and a 5th in the race to top off a great season.
Older brother Bob joined his sibling as he also had his best performance in his 4th season on the tour with a 7th place in the championship garnering 24 points and a season high pair of 5th’s at Qatar and China. The team leader was out running the GTR boats they developed and will be looking forward to introducing the new model at the opening of the 2007 campaign as they continue to bring more “thunder from down under”.
The French-Chinese Team of Charente Maritime headed by likeable veteran Philippe Dessertenne along with teammate Philippe Chiappe ended 4th in the championship with 39 points. The native of La Rochelle, Dessertenne, was tied for 8th overall finishing every race and having his best day at the season opener in Doha when he finished 3rd. His efforts struggled a bit from that point on with a pair of non top-10 performances followed by three top 10’s at the end of the year. The 12 year veteran now has a win and 15 podiums to his career and looks to turn his luck around for the upcoming campaign.
Teammate Chiappe started five events this year taking 11th in the title with 19 points with 4 top-10 finishes. The hi-light to his season came at Abu Dhabi when he started 18th and charged his way to a great 4th place finish the best in his four seasons in F1. The native of Rouen hopes to be back in 2007 to continue his improvement in the series.
The third member of the team was Peng Lin Wu the 40 year-old native of Qingdao, China who joined the team at the Grand Prix of Portugal racing four times finishing every event. It was his first full time back in F1 since the 1997 season with his best effort being a 12th in Abu Dhabi. He is expected to return even stronger for the next season and continue his re-learning curve in the sport.
Fifth in the team championship was the always exciting Qatar Team with 32 points courtesy of a veteran driver in Italian Massimo Roggiero and his rookie teammate Jay Price from New Orleans, Louisiana. This combination proved to be fun to watch on and off the water. Jay, pushed to the very end of the season battling for “Rookie-of-the-Year” honors only to come up short at the end. He would eventually place tied for 8th in the championship with 20 points in just 4 race starts. The “Ragin Cagin” had his career best 2nd at the Grand Prix of China in only his 5th start. Now in the mix of rookie honors, his luck turned bad missing out on the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi after being hospitalized for injuries in practice and missing the race. His long time association with the team makes it look even brighter for 2007.
Teammate Roggiero joined the effort at the Grand Prix of Portugal and immediately made an impact getting four straight top-6 qualifying performances in his own designed BABA boat. His best result of the season came with a podium finish at his home Grand Prix in Como but lack of finishes hurt his championship where he ended taking a 13th place tie with 12 points. He is expected to come back for his 13th season while chasing for his 4th F1 victory in the process.
Native son Mohammed Al Ali of Qatar who raced four times in 2005 and finished the season strongly with a pair of 9th place finishes at both Emirates races, saw action only at his home Grand Prix. He qualified 10th but ended both his day and his season with a tremendous crash in the race and is now hoping he can return in 2007.
The Red Devil Selio F1 Team had 24 points and was 6th in the championship. Team leader Sami Selio had a disappointing season with just 20 points and tying for 8th in the championship despite finishing with a strong 4th place at the Grand Prix of Sharjah. Last year’s runner-up in the championship, had great qualifying efforts with five top-6 efforts in the six starts including his first ever pole position at the Grand Prix of Portugal. However, three straight failures to finish in mid-season killed his chances for his first ever title. The native of Helsinki will be back with a bigger team and a stronger effort in 2007.
Selio’s teammate Julius Leysen tied for 17th in the championship with 4 points as the one time Rookie-of-the-Year had a season best 7th at the Grand Prix of Como. The Herenjhout, Belgium driver in his 4th full season failed to finish half the races and this hurt his chances to reach the top-10 in points. He is expected back for another year to turn his luck around.
One time World Champion Fabrizio Bocca got some much needed new blood into his Rainbow Team when rookie Jonas Andersson of Sweden joined the effort at the season’s 2nd race at the Grand Prix of Portugal. Andersson, a much heralded F2 driver, showed his talents from the start, with a fine 4th place finish in his first race. After getting mixed up in a first lap crash at the Grand Prix in Como, he had two straight failures to finish only to come on strong in the final pair of races in the Emirates with a 5th in Abu Dhabi and his first ever podium and a 3rd in Sharjah. When the season ended the native of Fruvi, Sweden tied for 5th with 28 points.
Teammate Bocca did well despite just two finishes in six starts taking a 9th in his native Como followed by a 12th at the final race in Sharjah. He struggled to once again get the boat to the end of the race. A third member of the team was Italian Valerio Lagiannella who qualified for the season’s first two events failing to finish either and missing the cut in Como to start the race. He ended up with no points but could be back for another season as the team finished tied for 7th.
The Atlantic Team of Duarte Benavente and Andy Elliott came in at tied for 7th place in the championship with 21 points. The two drivers running the Dragon boats built in the shops of multi-time World Champion Jonathan Jones in his Welsh race shop, looked good at times but not as consistent as they both had hoped. Elliott finished tied for 13th in the championship with 12 points with his best race coming at the Grand Prix of China when he started 11th and finished a strong 4th by races end. Three DNF’s hurt his chances to do better in the points.
Benavente, the veteran driver from Portugal, had a great qualifying effort at his home Grand Prix in Portimao but in this event he dropped out early to the dismay of his thousands of fans. In his next race in Como, Italy he came home a wonderful 5th after charging up from the 19th position off the dock. He finished tied for 15th position in the drivers championship with 9 points when it was all over. Both drivers are expected to continue a strong testing program after the holidays and work together to make their association with the team and the Dragon boats even stronger for the upcoming season.
Italian Fabio Comparato and his Comparato Racing effort had a season they would like to re-start. The talented driver from Chiogga, Italy near Venice smiled once all season with a fine podium third place position at the Grand Prix of Portugal. However, with just three top-10 finishes and a failure to start the final season event in Sharjah, this left Fabio ready to get on to the next campaign after finishing this season with 4 points and a tie for 17th in the championship.
Teammate Luigi Roberto of Piacenza, Italy finished tied for 22nd in the championship race with one point with a 10th place finish at the Grand Prix of Portugal. The driver in his 2nd season in F1 hopes to get more racing time in for 2007 and give it an even better shot at making it to the top 10 in next years drivers championship.
Swedish driver Pierre Lundin joined the Comparato team as he made a one off appearance at the Grand Prix of Como starting 16th and dropping out early and being classified 19th at days end.
One of the most talented teams in the paddock had a miserable 2006. It’s one they hope to soon forget as the Singha F1 squad finished in 10th place with just 8 points at seasons end. Talented Francesco Cantando of Milan, Italy, a three time runner-up in the championship in 2000, 2001 and 2004 could only manage a tie for 17th along with his teammate Massimiliano “Max” Moreschi both totaling just 4 points. Cantando battled with the balance of his older boat hull all season long and finished just once in the top-10 with a 7th at the Grand Prix of Portugal. His crashing out at the opener in Qatar seemed to slow his progress and he never got back to true form as he was chasing his 12th career victory.
“Max” seemed to improve early in the season with a 7th place finish in Qatar but struggled to keep the boat going with 4 DNF’s in the next five starts ending any chance of finishing in the top-10 in points for the young 22 year-old driver from Monza, Italy.
Rookie driver from the Emirates, Ahmad Al Hamli in only his 2nd career start gave the ASMC Racing Team their only points of the season with a 9th place finish in Sharjah. The young driver, learning his craft from World Champion Scott Gillman as his teacher, looks like another driver of the future to keep an eye on.
Veteran Marco Gambi pushed as hard as he could with a limited budget failing to finish in the five races he started. He crashed out at the Grand Prix of Portugal and let’s hope next season he has better results for the likeable driver from Milan who has raced many years prior to powerboats in the endurance classes of auto racing.
His other teammate, Franco Leidi, came back out of retirement and was able to start just one event at the first race of the season at the Grand Prix of Qatar. He had an accident that ended his race and maybe some of his confidence for the rest of the season. Hopes are high that we haven’t seen the last of a great ambassador of the sport from Sopra, Italy.
Team Green headed by Laith Pharaon raced four of the six events as the veteran of Saudi Arabia was competitive but didn’t have much luck. His one and only point came at the opening round in Qatar and his failure to finish the remaining races was a true disappointment to a top competitor. He ended his season in spectacular fashion at the Grand Prix of Sharjah by crashing out in a battle for 2nd place with Ivan Brigada possibly seeing the final action in this Miami, Florida driver’s career.
Rookie teammate Leo Bonelli of Italy saw action in only one event at the Grand Prix at Como. His jump start at the beginning of the event, the officials later ruled, caused a two boat accident that red carded Bonelli for the next few races ending his season.
For the 2nd straight season 30 race drivers from four different continents came to challenge the 6 races on 3 different continents for the 2006 U.I.M. F1 World Championship for power boating. The series that hi-lights the worlds most talented drivers racing in front of tens of thousands of race fans around the world while being broadcast live to over 20 countries and 750 million people around the globe bringing the best on the water for the sport of the 21st century. New drivers and new seasons constantly change the overall face of the sport. However, one thing is clear, and that is the dedication, preparation, talent and will to win is all important as the seasons end if you want to be declared World Champion!
For one man, the pressure of the challenge of his sponsor, crew and self proved that the driver from Los Angeles, California USA, Scott Gillman, has shown once again for the 4th time in his 19 years of racing, he is truly the “World Champion” of power boating.
But, as the sun rises and falls and the season goes from winter to spring a new call is heard and the races never stop. The laps are being challenged somewhere around the world as drivers from 18 different time zones prepare for the new challenge to be the 2007 U.I.M. F1World Champion of power boat racing…the season of total commitment is about to begin…enjoy and stay tuned!