H2O Racing
Union Internationale Motonautique


June 16, 2024

Sunday, June 16:  Talented Canadian rookie Rusty Wyatt belied his lack of experience in the UIM F1H2O World Championship to earn a stunning victory from pole position at the Regione Sardegna Grand Prix of Italy in Olbia on Sunday afternoon.


Despite a first-lap yellow flag stoppage, Wyatt guided his Sharjah Team DAC to a 12.210-second victory after leading from the rolling start to the finish of a drama-filled race in Sardinia. The success earned the Ontario-based racer a 14-point lead in the World Drivers’ Championship and the Sharjah Team is now tied on 94 points with Team Vietnam at the head of the Teams’ Championship.


Wyatt said: “I hoped that we could get a good start. It was definitely a big advantage to be on pole position. We got a good start and that worked out. We had one heck of a race. I was a bit nervous to be honest. We put it together for the start and kinda checked out as I wanted to. When I hit the lap traffic, at least I had some time to get around.


“What a win! The crew were guiding me through the lap traffic, telling me to take it easy and not to do anything dumb. I just tried to get through the traffic as clean as possible and not let anything come through from behind. We had so many family here. There had to be 25 people at this race. I can’t tell you how good that feels. It’s an incredible rookie year we are having. What a weekend all round.”


The CTIC China Team’s Peter Morin shadowed Wyatt to the finish once Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al-Qamzi had been sidelined with engine problems.  The Frenchman duly moved up to fourth in the Drivers’ Championship. Morin said: “It was a very hard race. It was important to get some good points this afternoon.”       


Strømøy Racing’s Bartak Marszalek stayed clear of the carnage around him and moved through the field to confirm the final place on the podium.


Defending World Champion Jonas Andersson was forced to change his engine before the start and the Swede began the race from 14th position. He gradually moved up to fifth but was not able to pass a hard-charging Marit Strømøy, who netted a season’s best fourth place in the four-stroke DAC. Her result and Marszalek’s podium moved Strømøy Racing into third place in the Teams’ Championship.


Andersson did collect seven championship points and retained second in the championship behind Wyatt, albeit he is now a single point ahead of former series leader Erik Stark. The Swede said: “It was good. We broke everything this weekend; The guys have been working 24 hours. It was good we broke the engine in the warm-up otherwise we break it in the race. I passed some drivers with not so much experience until I arrived at Marit. She was the wall. It was not possible to pass her. For this course, she had a perfect length. We take the points for today.”


The F1 Atlantic Team’s Ben Jelf finished sixth and holds 10th in the Drivers’ Championship in the first of the F1 Atlantic Team boats.  The Victory Team’s Ahmad Al-Fahim was seventh, Morin’s team-mate Brent Dillard was eighth and the Maverick Racing’s Cédric Deguisne and Wyatt’s team-mate Filip Roms rounded off the top 10. The F1 Atlantic Team’s Duarte Benavente and Maverick Racing’s Alexandre Bourgeot finished out of the points in 11th and 12th.


The Victory Team’s Stark had won round two in Vietnam but pulled out with engine issues. Erik said: “The Sprint didn’t go as planned. I did a mistake at the first buoy and Sami passed me on the outside. I was really struggling this weekend and didn’t have the speed we had in Vietnam. The plan was to get as many points as possible. But it just didn’t work out this weekend.”


The race


Dillard started near the rear of the field in 15th after an accident resulted in an engine change for the American on Saturday, while Benavente, who had struggled with a throttle issue in his morning’s Sprint race, lined up in 18th position. Alberto Comparato took 16th on the rolling start after Abu Dhabi team manager Guido Cappellini confirmed that the Italian had clouted a piece of driftwood during his Sprint race and delaminated the sponson before being disqualified for moving in the wrong direction of the course. He was forced to run the spare boat. Roms solved ongoing technical issues and was down in 17th.


Wyatt led the way from Al-Qamzi, Morin and Stark for the rolling start to the 40-lap race on the 1,500-metre Olbia course. But there was late drama for defending World Champion Jonas Andersson, who was forced to change his engine before the start and dropped back to 14th for the rolling start.


Andersson, who admitted that his propeller choice for the morning’s Sprint race had been wrong, said: “To be honest, I don’t know (what happened). We had a problem the whole weekend. The new boat was fantastic but we broke some stupid electric thing. Then, in the warm-up, I felt something was not right and there was a problem inside (the engine). The chance to arrive high now is very low. This course is like Monaco Formula One - very difficult to pass.”


Wyatt had stressed the importance of a good start and the Canadian didn’t disappoint by maintaining his advantage but the race was yellow-flagged on the opening lap when Team Vietnam’s Stefan Arand dug in at the right-hander and somersaulted violently out of the race. Andersson had moved up to 12th but Wyatt led from Al-Qamzi, Morin, Stark, Zandbergen, Seliö and Marszalek. Comparato was also sidelined before the restart after opting to use Al-Qamzi’s spare boat for the race.


Racing resumed after four laps and Wyatt retained his lead with Al-Qamzi, Morin and Stark holding second, third and fourth and Marszalek climbing to fifth. Seliö’s 12th start in Italy was fruitless and the luckless Finn pulled out just after the restart, as Andersson climbed to eighth with title rival Stark pulling off the race course with engine issues after slipping out of the top 10.


By lap 10, at quarter-distance, Wyatt’s lead grew to 10.567sec after Al-Qamzi was sidelined with engine issues on the ninth lap. With drivers dropping like flies after a chaotic start, Morin and Marszalek moved up to second and third and Zandbergen and Strømøy held fourth and fifth with Andersson moving up to seventh behind Jelf.


Wyatt increased his lead to 15.697sec through 16 laps and Andersson overtook Jelf to snatch sixth and began to close in on Strømøy in the four-stroke V8-engined DAC. Morin remained around 15 seconds behind the leader through the next few laps as the drivers held their positions into lap 22. Dillard overhauled Roms and Benavente to move into 10th place.


With 10 laps to go, Wyatt led Morin by 17.520 seconds with Marszalek and Strømøy holding third and fourth after Zandbergen was sidelined after 24 laps. Andersson was running in fifth but still unable to pass Strømøy and snatch fourth place.


Wyatt maintained his composure to claim a second win of the season from three starts and move into the lead in the Drivers’ Championship. Morin delivered another impressive performance to finish second and Marszalek recovered from a late mistake to snatch the final podium place.