Selio Wins Four Way Battle For 2nd In Championship!
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – December 31, 2008 - It took him over twenty-five years to find his place in racing history, but Jay Price kept his dreams alive while his determination to make it to the top level of the sport paid off after only 21 career race starts. The New Orleans, Louisiana veteran led his Qatar Team to their first ever World title winning the U.I.M. F1 World Championship Series for power boating scoring 105 points and capturing the title by a 36 point margin. Jay becomes the third different American driver to secure the title in the 28 years since the championship began back in 1981.
The Qatar Team under the auspices of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) was an international effort with personnel from four different nations leading the effort that was put together just two years ago with the blessing from His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani a qualified Class 1 international racer in his own right.
Jay, who languished in the lesser formula’s for the past twenty years and was a fixture in Mexico and Cuba having won numerous titles in the 1990’s, got a break a few years back racing in the Middle East and Formula 2 tour. He was awarded the job as lead driver of the newly established team based out of Doha by the QMSF after the injuries to Mohammed Al-Ali at the start of the 2006 campaign forced his retirement. Once getting into the rhythm of F1, Jay now has put together a devastating string of podium performances, having reached the top three in every race he’s finished since the final event of the 2007 campaign which has now stretched to seven and still counting into 2009.
At the start of the 2008 campaign Jay was given a new boat from the DAC shops out of Lake Como in Italy and right out of the gate he showed he was going to be a serious player for the title run by coming home 1.76 seconds behind Grand Prix of Qatar winner Jonas Andersson at his home Grand Prix after qualifying fifth.
The Grand Prix of Portugal in the lovely city of Portimao on the Algarve coast saw Jay charge his way to his first victory of his career after a ferocious fight with young driver Ahmad Al Hameli of Team Abu Dhabi that lasted for over 40 laps before the veteran driver faked one way and went to the other side and drove away to a 16 second victory and took the lead in the championship that he would never loose for the rest of the season.
The next event at the Grand Prix of Finland turned out to be one of the roughest races in the history of the sport. High winds turned Lake Vesijarvi into a swirling mass of water. It was so rough that the race near downtown Lahti was started with a flying green flag start instead of the usual Le Mans start off the dock. This one event showed the talent of the American driver as Jay used all of his years of experience to charge from 18th position to finish 2nd . This was even more remarkable since he was forced to do a slow drive thru penalty after missing a buoy according to the U.I.M. officials on this day.
At the Grand Prix of Russia in St. Petersburg, Jay’s only equipment failure was actually good news for the driver who was struggling to stay in the top ten in the race while fighting a bout of a severe case of the flu that haunted him all weekend.
The series took the summer recess because of the Olympic Games and the second half of the season would determine the championship. Jay, held a 10 point lead over Swedish ace Andersson who had won two victories at the time, but once again Price took advantage of others misfortunes. He won for the second time at the Grand Prix of China in Liuzhou capturing the trophy by 12.34 seconds over Australian pilot David Trask. That victory was now forcing the competition into almost panic mode to take the title away.
Two weeks later at the Grand Prix of China in Shenzhen saw Price start third as he came within 1.77 seconds of winning another event while pushed defending World Champion Sami Selio for all 50 laps.
The dream finally came true at the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi as the Qatar driver earned his first pole of his career and went on to win the championship taking the checkered flag for the third time in seven starts beating Ahmad Al Hameli by over 23 seconds. Jay had finally proved to the world that he earned a place in history with his success in the year long battle with drivers from 15 different nations all hoping for the same glory.
The final event of the season in spectacular Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates with all the pressure off saw the new champion make his only mistake of the year eventually retiring after hitting a turn buoy battling Andersson for third place in a race that was eventually won by Thani Al Qamzi for his first win of the season.
One of the biggest coups that the Qatar Team pulled off was hiring engine guru Brendan Power from Florida. The native Australian, who had made his name known in North America by helping Terry Rinker win the F1-ChampBoat title not only in 2008 but in three of the past four season’s. Brendan, who had come to North America years ago working with legendary driver Bill Seebold, only had one DNF (failure to finish) for the season while watching his number one driver win three times and gain a pole position on his way to the title.
The other member of the team was rookie driver Youssef Al Khulifi who made giant strides in his first year coming directly from jet-ski racing finishing in the top-10 twice during the season with an eighth at the Grand Prix of Finland and a career best sixth at Liuzhou in China after starting 15th. The young driver from Doha finished 2nd in the Rookie-of-the-Year honors and will only be better next season. Young Qatar rookie Ahmed Al Fayyad started three races and failed to finish each event for no points.
All in all, the domination of the Qatar Team who shown by the season end statistics, as they won the “Drivers Championship”, “Team Championship” with 110 points and the “Slam” fast lap of the race award, with Jay gaining 99 points for the seasons eight races.
For defending World Champion Sami Selio his season started in a very frustrating manner but ended with a flourish as the driver from Helsinki, Finland gained 42 of his total 69 points in his final three rounds to take 2nd in the championship at season’s end.
Selio, came out of the first three races with no podium finishes and 12 total points. His pressure packed home Grand Prix event in Lahti turned into a disappointing weekend as he failed to reach the top-six shootout and didn’t finish the event while fighting for a podium finish. His luck seemed to turn around beginning with a 3rd place in St. Petersburg while challenging the rest of the field of drivers during the final half of the season with three pole positions in the final four events.
His victory at the season’s smallest race circuit in Shenzhen was the highlight of his season winning from pole position and leaving him with a shot at the title with two races to go. His second place at the final race in Sharjah in December gave him second in the championship and new hope for winning the title in 2009.
Selio’s teammate, Massimo Roggiero, a veteran driver and builder of the popular BABA boats didn’t race the final half of the season as the Italian started just three events and scored his only point at the season opening round at the Grand Prix of Qatar. The question now is, have we’ve seen the final laps put in by this likeable driver from Arsizio, Italy? Only time will tell. When the season finished the Woodstock Red Devil Racing Team was fourth in the Team Championship with 70 points and Selio taking second in the Pole Position Points Championship with 94 points.
Swedish driver Jonas Andersson was third in the championship with a pair of victories at Doha and St. Petersburg finishing the year with 62 points for his F1 Team Sweden effort. When Jonas was hot, he was red hot, when he was cold, he was ice, becoming a giant statistic for non-finishing having completed just four of the eight events. His win in Doha was his first of what believe should be many more as the 33 year-old from Fruvi continues to find more revenue to make his 2009 more fruitful and a shot at the title.
Rookie-of-the-Year winner Uvis Slakteris of Latvia came from F2 following his lead driver’s path and immediately showed his talents in his Molgaard boat by scoring his first World Championship points in his first race qualifying 16th and taking a sixth at the Grand Prix of Qatar. He earned another career best sixth in Lahti with back to back top-10’s in China with a seventh in Liuzhou and an eighth in Shenzhen. Uvis finished 13th in the championship with 17 points and hopes to come back again next season.
French driver Philippe Tourre was the third member of the F1 Team Sweden group racing four events while finishing two. His best performance of the year came at the opening round in Qatar where he qualified tenth and finished with his only points of the season gaining two with a ninth place effort. He later sold his boat to the Team Abu Dhabi group and has retired from F1.
Fourth in the championship was last year’s Rookie-of-the-Year Ahmad Al Hameli as the driver from Abu Dhabi earned 55 points in an exciting season that saw the 29 year-old earn four podium finishes including a career best pair of second place finishes in Portugal and Abu Dhabi.
Al Hameli was personally being helped during each moment on the water by Team Abu Dhabi Director of Racing and four-time World Champion Scott Gillman who masterfully crafted a good campaign for the young driver and watched his improvement throughout the year. Ahmad’s personal dual in the second half of the season with nine-time World Champion Cappellini was the talk of the paddock. First, Al Hameli was taken out by the Como, Italy native at the start in Liuzhou, China. Then, the two got together once again after Cappellini’s one race suspension this time in Abu Dhabi with Ahamd eventually finishing 2nd to Price, while Guido, had to park his boat with too much damage to continue. Yes, this once again the two clashed at the first corner of the race while battling for an early advantage.
Ahamd’s teammate, Thani Al Qamzi, had a season to forget until he reached the final two rounds at his home country in December. The 30 year-old, who was third in the title hunt in 2007, was picked as a possible World Champion starting this season. That was until he ran off a string of six straight failures to finish. Five of these being mechanicals plus a crash in Lahti, pretty much putting him out of the championship hunt by the mid-season mark eventually finishing eighth with 32 points.
Thani finished in a flurry with a 3rd place in Abu Dhabi and a win to wrap up the year in Sharjah leaving him in a good mood to take up the hunt for the title next season. Al Qamzi won the “Pole Position” Trophy despite failing to earn a pole all season but his consistency was enough to beat out Selio by eight points. Team Abu Dhabi was second in the “Team Championship” with 87 points.
Italian Fabio Comparato had a nice come back campaign finishing fifth in the championship with 43 points. His small 800 Doctor Team saw the driver from Chiogga, have back to back podiums with a pair of thirds at St. Petersburg and Liuzhou. He combined these with a fourth in Sharjah and a fifth in Portimao. His BABA hull had five top ten finishes and two mechanicals during the season as the 11 year racing veteran will be out looking to improve on his one career victory total in ’09.
Joining Fabio as his teammate in the Emirates races was 25 year-old German driver Fabian Kalsow who returned to F1 for the first time in a year and one-half. He was back on a steep learning curve finishing 11th in his BABA boat at Abu Dhabi and failing to start in Sharjah with a last minute mechanical issue. He should be back strong in 2009. The organization finished 8th in the “Team Championship” with a combined total of 43 points.
Sixth in the championship was Australian David Trask. He helped his Trask Brothers Racing Team to fifth in the team championship with two podium finishes and three top five places in just four finishes during the campaign. His second in Liuzhou was the highlight of his season and a third at the first event in Doha started him off in a good way until two straight DNF’s slowed his progress at the mid-season mark. The five year F1 veteran is expecting to bring their new boats to the table next season with a lot of optimism as well.
Older brother Bob Trask was 16th in the championship with 11 total points. His back to back top-10’s with a ninth at Portimao followed by a seventh at the tough Lahti circuit sent him in the right direction eventually taking four top-10’s with three mechanicals for the year. Both brothers are expected back for 2009.
Philippe Chiappe of France led the Atlantic Team finishing seventh in the championship with 40 points. The native of Rouen, continues to show solid performances race after race and was the only driver on the circuit to complete every one of the eight races. His chase for his first podium came ever so close at Liuzhou when he tied his career best with a fourth. He also had a pair of fifth’s at Lahti and Sharjah and took all eight races to top-10 finishes.
His teammate Duarte Benavente finished just three times in his seven starts. He really seemed to be a lot more confident after receiving the latest version of ex-World Champion’s Jonathan Jones DRAGON boat in the Emirates to end the year. The Portugal driver had his best performance of the season at his home Grand Prix in Portimao where he took a fine fourth after starting 13th. His next best effort was an eighth at Sharjah to finish 15th in the drivers championship with 10 points. The team tied for 5th in the “Team Championship” with 52 points.
Pierre Lundin of Sweden joined China CTIC Team after Doha replacing Peng Lin Wu and had three top-five performances including a pair of season best fourth’s back to back at Lahti and St. Petersburg. His shot for a top-five finish in the championship disappeared following back to back DNF’s in the Emirates after a ninth and a fifth in China finishing ninth in the championship with 31 points.
Teammate Philippe Dessertenne of France in his 14th F1 campaign was not happy with his overweight older hull all season despite having five top-10 finishes on his way to 12th in the championship with 20 total points. His high water mark of the season came with a 5th in Russia while his first half of the season turned out better than the second half after scoring three top-10’s early. Philippe is still undecided of his return in ’09. The team was 7th with 51 points overall.
Italian Guido Cappellini of Como, Italy had his most unproductive season in his 19 year career finishing just 10th in the driver’s championship with 27 points for his Tamoil Racing Team. His high point came with a close win at the rough Grand Prix of Finland for his 57th career victory. His only other point earning day came at the opening race in Qatar with a fifth place performance. His season was marked with frustration culminating with a one race suspension when the U.I.M. officials deemed that he caused a race start accident at the Grand Prix of China in Liuzhou docking the 49 year-old a race start in Shenzhen. His only happiness came knowing that new World Champion Jay Price was running one of his boats that he built for the American.
Stanislav Kourtsenovsky returned to F1 racing finishing 14th overall with 16 combined points for the driver from St. Petersburg, Russia. Stan, had one top-five result in Liuzhou combined with four top-10 finishes in the four races he finished. His other races were mired with four failures to finish. The likeable 37 year-old driver is expected back on the circuit next season. Overall the Tamoil team was eighth in the “Team Championship” with 43 points at seasons end.
Italian Francesco Cantando of the Singha Racing Team was best known for his “you tube” crash while fighting for first place at the Grand Prix of Finland at Lahti. His overall performances were better with a return to the podium at the Grand Prix of Portugal as part of his three finishes. Reliability again proved to be worrisome. His failing to finish four times in just seven starts was the team’s downfall. His speed wasn’t in question since he reached the top-six shootout twice with his best qualifying efforts being a pair of fifth’s in Lahti and Shenzhen.
Teammate and fellow Italian Marco Gambi had a stellar year recording his first championship points of his career twice with a fine sixth place performance at the final round in Sharjah after picking up a pair of points with a ninth place in Russia. He failed to start at the opening race in Qatar and dropped out of three more making his results even more encouraging for the upcoming season. The team was 10th in the “Team Championship with 28 points.
The Rainbow Team had four different drivers compete in the series with Norway’s Marit Stromoy starting the season before leaving by the Emirates rounds. Marit, who now makes her home in Copenhagen as an entertainer, struggled with equipment and bad luck crashing out three of the four races she started. Things didn’t get any better for the 31 year-old as she failed to get her boat to the start pontoon in either event in China. She’s hoping to return next season as well.
Italian driver Valerio Lagiannella started just four races this season but did record his first ever championship points with a ninth place at the final event he ran in China at Shenzhen after starting 18th. His best qualifying efforts were three 15th place starts.
Joining the team late was past race winner Ivan Brigada of Italy who did respectfully well with a 12th place in Abu Dhabi in his first race of the season followed by a point earning tenth in Sharjah. Another Italian, Danielle Martignoni, came over from Italian F2 crashing out in Abu Dhabi and taking 12th in Sharjah in his first pair of races on the F1 tour. The four drivers combined for three points for ex-World Champion Fabrizzo Bocca’s team and 11th in the “Team Championship”.
Twenty-seven drivers from 15 different nations took part in the eight race 2008 U.I.M. F1 World Championship Series. The nine month journey to declare a new champion was awarded to a team that dedicated itself in getting the right personnel and driver combination to put together a package that would dominate the world. So, as we close the history books on the 2008 campaign that still shines across the pages of history, we salute Sheikh Hassan, the Qatar Marine Sports Federation and their veteran driver Jay Price for conquering the world in 2008.
Momentum – how long can this carry them? Can they repeat? It hasn’t happened since 2003. We’ll see if a new driver and can step forward and be crowned champion for the fifth straight year in 2009 or whether the Qatar Team can dominate the world once again.
Stay tuned. Be in the know – with F1 H20!