ABU DHABI - Friday, 17 May - A world class driver who has tried just about every form of powerboat racing is taking up the gauntlet by joining the premiere series in the world on water, the UIM F1 H2O World Championship.
Norway's Pal Virik Nilsen has signed a contract to join Team Azerbaijan and will be making his debut at the season opener at the Inaugural Grand Prix of Brazil in Brasilia on the 1st and 2nd of June.
The 38 year-old from Sandefjord, Norway, has raced in over 220 events since his powerboat racing debut back in 1992. He began in the T-400 Class, gaining experience as he climbed the ladder of the sport by also racing in the S-550, S-850, Formula 4, 3 and 2000 classes before moving on to competing in the Offshore circuits of Supercat and Class-1.
"It's such a thrilling moment to join Jonas Andersson and the rest of the Team Azerbaijan crew," said Pal. "My long time friend and co-teammate earlier this year in Class-1 Offshore Marit Stromoy who also races in F1, clued me in on how great and challenging the F1 series truly is and now I'm part of it and really ready "to rock" against the greatest drivers in the world."
Pal has won six UIM World and European Championship medals in different offshore and circuit classes over the years including the world Formula 4 title in 1998.
More recently the Norwegian has made 32 starts in Class-1. He made his debut at the Trondheim Grand Prix in Norway in 2005 with Giorgioffshore. In 2007 he switched roles from driver to throttle-man to form an exciting partnership with Tom Barry-Cotter racing for the Spirit of Norway outfit. Later that year, under the Maritimo Australia banner the duo went on to start a streak of winning by earning a hat-trick of titles in the Australian Offshore Superboat Championship in 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons.
The Norwegian has finished three times on the podium in Class-1 in 2009 and once in 2011. Last season he competed in Class-1 and the F2 World Championship. His F2 win in Cagliari in Italy was the highlight of a season cut short by injury.
Pal is serious about staying in physical shape and was out doing his interval running in Sweden in the last 24 hours making sure he'll be fresh for the start of the season in Brasilia in just two weeks time.
He joins a long list of successful Norwegian pilots in F1 dating back to the mid 1990's with Thomas Guttormsen and Frode Sundsdal, and later with Rolf Sunde and Marit Stromy.
Virik Nilsen's arrival will mark the third driver in Team Azerbaijan organization. Also, joining him Brasilia will be national driver Paul Gaiser from Rio, returning to F1 at his home Grand Prix for the first time in a decade.
You can follow Pal's progress against the world's most talented drivers by going to the UIM F1 H2O World Championship Series official website at www.f1h2o.com for all the latest news and by watching "live" both qualifying on the 1st and the Grand Prix final on the 2nd of June.
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