Price Leads But 13 Drivers Still Have Shot At Crown!
SHENZHEN, China – Friday, October 17, 2008 - - Three races remain which means 60 total points are up for the taking as the 2008 U.I.M. F1 World Championship rolls into the dynamic Southern Chinese city of Shenzhen the weekend of October 25-26 on a very challenging five-turn 1.75 kilometer circuit that will go a long way in determining this seasons world drivers champion.
Pilots from four different continents will travel to the pivotal race that could “seal the fate” of many of the 13 drivers that still have a mathematical chance and dreams of the thrill and glory of being crowned World Champion in the most prestigious series in all of power boat racing.
Leading the way is three year F1 pilot Jay Price of the Qatar Team. The driver from New Orleans, Louisiana, with only 19 recorded starts in the premiere F1 class, has accumulated 70 points with a pair of wins and two second place finishes in his five starts this season to hold down a secure 30 point lead in the championship.
Chasing him is his old rival from F2 in Swedish driver Jonas Andersson. He disappointingly crashed out of the last event a week ago in Liuzhou, China gaining no points. Jonas now is most desperate for more than his two wins this season if he has any hope of a title.
“We don’t really plan on doing anything different next race,” said Jay. “We want to continue the consistent performance we’ve shown all season and continue to run strongly in the race to reach another podium. We’re not out counting numbers yet, we still have a lot of work to do before we can crown our first title for the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) who have been so instrumental in our success so far this season.”
Maybe the driver known as the “Ragin Cagin” isn’t counting points yet, but he just could wrap up the title as early as Shenzhen. To do this, he must come home with at least a second place and see if the same scenario that happened last race falls into place. In that event, the top four in the points behind him all failed to finish. It’s a long shot, but still is worth keeping focused on. The race venue in Shenzhen has a reputation for being a struggle to get around cleanly as drivers must watch their mirrors for all the traffic on this short and tricky “Monaco” of courses.
The expected sold out crowd once again will not get a chance to see last years winner Guido Cappellini of Como, Italy compete as the nine-time World Champion was handed a red card penalty by the U.I.M. officials following his first corner incident that caused Team Abu Dhabi driver Ahmad Al Hameli to crash out of the race and hurt his championship hopes as well. The Tamoil Team driver will sit out this event and pretty much wave good-bye to his chances of winning his must sought after 10th world title for the third year in a row.
Moving up quickly in the drivers championship is Australian David Trask who came away with his best ever finish when he took second at Liuzhou last race. He now sits third in the championship with 32 points and hopes for another podium finish in his Trask Brothers Racing GTR boat to keep his dreams alive for his first title.
One point back and fourth in the title run is Italian veteran Fabio Comparato who has come on strongly in the last two races with a pair of podium finishes as he looks for his first victory in 26 races since he last won in Malaysia back in 2004. His best other performance in China was a fourth in Shanghai also in 2004.
Ahmad Al Hameli was “Rookie-of-the-Year” a season ago and has 28 points and fourth place in the championship coming to the forefront with his driving skills in his BABA boat and a pair of podiums thus far this year. His qualifying has been even more impressive with a pole in Portugal and a pair of second’s in Finland and Russia. He will have to switch boats for this race and it remains to be seen how well he handles this unnerving situation.
Last years World Champion Sámi Selio was leading the race from the pole in Liuzhou easily until his boat came to a stop down at the west end of the race course on the 40th lap of the 65 lap event ending his day in tears and losing a real strong chance to get back into the championship hunt. The Woodstock Red Devil Racing driver is known for saving his best performances for the second half of championship and still isn’t out of the race by any means with 27 points. He will need to win this next week in order to have a shot at repeating his title.
Swedish driver Pierre Lundin has a string of eight straight top-10 finishes and will be looking to put his China CTIC Team DAC boat back on the podium for the first time this season. He has a pair of fourth place finishes this year as the driver from Eskilstuna has accumulated 24 points.
French pilot Philippe Chiappe tied his best performance ever with a fourth in Liuzhou and has moved into a tie with Lundin for eighth in the championship. The driver from Rouen may have finished even higher had he not been forced to do a “drive thru” penalty during the race in his BABA Atlantic Team boat.
Stanislav Kourtsenovsky brought the one Tamoil F1 Team boat home for his career best fifth after starting 13th off the dock. The St. Petersburg driver is having one of his best seasons yet, with four top-10 finishes in the five races this season and looking for better results in the future.
Latvian rookie Uvis Slakteris of the F1 Team Sweden effort had his third top-10 effort in Liuzhou and has 14 points which is one ahead of French veteran Philippe Dessertenne of the China CTIC organization. Philippe will be making his ninth Grand Prix of China start which is more than any other driver. His 13 points in the championship make him a slim shot for the title.
All in all, the short “bull ring” of a circuit on Lake Shenzhen will once again be a true challenge to rookie and veteran driver alike. Combine this with a possibility of a 70 lap event; this should make this Grand Prix the ideal for all sorts of drama to play out.
Will the “stealth” like performance of World Championship point’s leader Jay Price once again work as he waits for the right time to strike in the middle of the race while others in front have played all their cards? Or, will we see another charge by Jonas Andersson as he hopes to win for the third time this season and force a real fight to the finish in the United Arab Emirates in the month of December. Time will tell.
Stay tuned, the Ninth Grand Prix of China and the sixth round of the U.I.M. F1 World Championship is about to another page on Lake Shenzhen on the weekend of the 25th and 26th of October.