EVIAN, France - (June 24, 2015) - You can learn a lot by looking at numbers. This is what most of us were taught in school by our basic mathematics teacher's throughout our younger years. Oddly enough, it works for sports including the worldwide UIM F1 H2O World Championship for powerboating series as well.
As the tour makes it's first ever stop at the famed French spa resort town of Evian near the foothills of the Alps on Lake Geneva (Lac Leman) as the second round of the 2015 UIM F1 H2O World Championship and the 19th Grand Prix of France (notice all the numbers in the last sentence and it all starts to make sense) let's throw some numbers at you as we focus on the upcoming Grand Prix.
Certain pilots are known for racing with certain numbers on their boats. The rules in the series state that if you win the world title you take over the number one plate and place it on your boat for the following season. This is an honor and shows everyone around the world who is the reigning World Championship title holder.
Let's look at this a little closer.
In the 35 year-old history of the series and this year being the 32nd racing season (numbers again), we have had 13 different drivers earning the title World Champion. Of those, 17 years have been taken up by Italian drivers. Guido Cappellini leads the way with 10 titles in his 20 years of racing. Renato Molinari and Alex Carella are next having earned three apiece with Fabrizio Bocca holding down one.
The United States is second with three drivers establishing a total of six led by Hall-of-Fame driver Scott Gillman's four, Jay Price and Gene Thibodeaux taking one title apiece since the series first season in 1981.
The United Kingdom follows with five titles, split by Jonathan Jones and Bob Spalding each earning two and the late John Hill with his one in 1990. Sami Selio has given Finland a pair of crowns while reigning World Titlist Philippe Chiappe handing France their first "gold medal" last season with a brilliant come from behind championship.
So now, as we get ready and look down the paddock at the boats that will line-up for Sunday's Grand Prix here in Evian, you'll notice a few odd ball thought's.
Firstly, Chiappe, who sits second in the current championship with 15 points is driving boat #1 because of his 2014 championship season. Seven different times the defending champion has won another title back to back with the #1 boat which has happened more times than any other number. Will Philippe add to that here in 2015?
There will be tens of thousands of French fans here this weekend that hope he can.
The second most popular number to win? Number 18. Six times drivers took the title with 18, beginning with Italian Hall-of-Fame driver Renato Molinari doing so in 1981, 1983 and again in 1984. The second driver to do so was, oddly enough, American Scott Gillman during his rookie season in 1997 driving with Fabirzio Bocca's Italian team. Cappellini in 2001 won with #18 on his boat after swapping with world titlist Scott Gillman who had won the year before in 2000. Confused yet? Or are you still with me?
Anyhow, speaking of the California driver Gillman, who now heads the Emirates Team as Team Manager, he has always been known for his now famous #77 in which he won numerous titles in America with it on his boat. At the time he arrived on the worldwide UIM tour the rules didn't allow him to bring the number so he took #18 instead racing with Bocca.
Well, the number #77 has resurfaced again. This time with fellow American Shaun Torrente who is and leader of the Drivers Championship this season and whom is now driving for the new Victory Team based out of Dubai.
When asked whether he knew that the #77 was a famous boat racing number used by Gillman for so many years in North America, the young driver from Miami, Florida, didn't even know history behind it. But, he likes the idea now that he has the number.
Following the #77 plate has been only used a few times. Recently, Russian driver Stanislav Kourtsenovsky ran it in 2010 and 2011 for a few events, while German pilot Fabian Kalsow had it for two races in 2008.
Let's see if Shaun can keep getting good luck, with a number that has had so much success in the past.
Oh, one more bit of number trivia for you. The highest number ever to win a world title? It was Guido Cappellini doing so his final season of racing in 2009 with the #74.
You can follow all the drivers from 12 different nations this weekend at the 19th Grand Prix of France from Evian beginning with official Qualifying taking place at 16:25 local (14:25 GMT) and 10:25 on the East Coast of North America on Saturday the 27th. The official Grand Prix will take place on Sunday the 28th at 15:00 local (13:00 GMT) by going to the tours official website at www.f1h2o.com. The race will be aired on the website as part of the Worldwide Television Broadcast feed and you'll have an opportunity to view it as well.
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