Trio of "New Name" drivers have Championship hopes!
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – 26th of September, 2008 – After the summer recess, it’s back to full speed for the U.I.M. F1 World Championship for power boating as the 2008 campaign heads to China for back to back races beginning with the Grand Prix at Liuzhou on the weekend of the 11th and 12th of October.
Liuzhou, known as the “dragon city” is in the middle of the Guanxi Province in the Southwest part of China and is hosting F1 power boats for the first time as the U.I.M. F1 World Championship arrives for its 8th Grand Prix in this exotic land dating back to 1995.
As the 5th race of the 2008 season kicks off the second half of the campaign, Qatar Team driver Jay Price of New Orleans, Louisiana leads the drivers championship with 50 points after winning at the Grand Prix of Portugal along with a pair of runner-up finishes at his home Grand Prix in Doha and at the Grand Prix of Finland in Lahti in June. The American had his 4 race podium streak stopped when he failed to finish at the last Grand Prix in St. Petersburg in Russia.
“We are ready to continue our solid success that we had in the first half of the season and carry it into the 2nd half as we chase our first World Championship,” said Jay. “We have a great crew of people with a lot of experience and when you have that mix, you don’t get flustered easily when the pressure is put on you. You just do your work and forget all the little things around you that can distract you towards winning a title. We have a ways to go, but I feel we are on the right track.”
The Qatar effort leads the Team Championship with 43 points helped by rookie teammate Youssef Al Khulifi as the young driver from Doha has 3 points after a fine 8th place finish at the very rough event at the Grand Prix of Finland in Lahti.
Chasing him is his old friend and rival Jonas Andersson of F1 Team Sweden who has a pair of wins at Doha and St. Petersburg in the only race finishes he’s been able to complete this year. His 2 for 2 performances should scare all his rivals if the 33 year-old from Fruvi, Sweden can get his reliability in order for the final four races. His 40 points with his two victories gives him 2nd place in the World Drivers Championship 10 behind Price.
Teammate Philippe Tourre of Paris, France is 17th in the championship with 2 points. He did well with a fine 6th place finish at Xi’an last year after qualifying 15th.
Third in the championship is young Abu Dhabi driver Ahmad Al Hameli who drives for Team Abu Dhabi and who has been lightning quick in qualifying with a pole in Portimao followed by a pair of 2nd place starts at Lahti and St. Petersburg. His race finishes have been strong as well with a 2nd in Portimao, Portugal to Jay Price and a 3rd in Lahti. His 10th place finish in St. Petersburg was a disappointment but he is hoping to change his luck and earn his first ever F1 victory this season here in China.
While last years “Rookie-of-the-Year” Ahmad has had a lot of good success his friend and teammate Thani Al Qamzi has watched 2008 turn into a nightmare during the first half of the campaign. The driver from Abu Dhabi, who won in China last year at Xi’an, has 4 straight non-finishes and is looking for his first points of the season. A new boat, which was reported on its way could help turn things around for him before the season ends however.
All together these top three drivers of Price, Andersson and Al Hameli have a total of 46 combined F1 starts in their career. Jay Price has the best performance of the three with a 2nd place podium finish at the 2006 Chinese event while Jonas has 3 straight DNF’s and Ahmad’s best performance is a 9th last year in Xi’an.
Veteran Guido Cappellini of Como, Italy arrives in China with more victories and more starts than anyone in the history of the sport. The 9-time World Champion has won in China dating back to 1995 in Hangzhou and again in Wuxi in 1996 and Shenzhen last year. He has finished on the podium in 6 of the previous 7 events in China.
The 49 year-old driver has had a checkered 2008 season so far. Granted, his 57th career victory with a win in Finland snapped a 3 race losing streak, however a pair of not finishing results in Portimao and St. Petersburg along with a penalty filled 5th place finish at the opening round in Doha has not helped. He is sitting with 27 points or 23 points behind the leader Jay Price and needs to start winning to get back into the championship hunt as he pursues his 10th title.
Russian co-driver on the Tamoil F1 Team Stanislav Kourtsenovsky is 14th in the championship with 9 points and pair of back to back 7th places to his credit in his 3 finishes this season. The driver from St. Petersburg is looking forward to his first top 10 finish after crashing out last year in Xi’an and finishing 11th in Shenzhen.
Defending World Champion Sámi Selio of Finland and lead driver for the Woodstock Red Devil Racing effort is currently 5th in the championship coming off a momentum changing 2nd place finish at the last race in St. Petersburg and now is tied with Cappellini with 27 points. One year ago, the driver from Helsinki came to China having snapped his 9 year drought be winning at the Grand Prix of France in La Rochelle.
Since that time Selio has won 2 of his last 8 starts and has 13 straight top-10 finishes going for him. Sámi finished both races a year ago in China on the podium with a pair of 3rd place positions turning around his season and putting him into position to take a world title.
Teammate to Sámi is veteran Italian Massimo Roggiero who is 19th this season with a single point earned at the opening round in Doha. In his other two starts the driver from Northern Italy has crashed out in Portimao and failed to finish in St. Petersburg.
Swedish driver Pierre Lundin has once again impressed the boat racing world with three straight top 7 performances including back to 4th place finishes in Finland and Russia. The driver for the China CTIC Team is hoping to continue and add to his 22 points and another top 5 finish in the drivers championship for a 2nd straight season. Chinese driver Peng Lin Wu started the season with a failure to finish in Doha for his only start in 2008. His first race in his native land was back in 1997 at Xiamen where he finished 18th. His best result was a 13th at Xi’an last year.
Fellow driver on the China CTIC Team Philippe Dessertenne of France is one of only two pilots that have raced at every Grand Prix of China. A 5th place finish at Shenzhen being his best performance thus far. His 2nd place qualifying start last year was marred with an opening lap crash in Xi’an ending his day. Philippe is 10th in the driver’s championship with 10 points.
Veteran Italian Fabio Comparato of the 800 Doctor Team arrives in China 7th in the championship with 19 points with his best finish of 2008 being with a 3rd place podium performance in Russia marking his first trip to the podium in 14 races since Portugal in 2006. The driver from Chiogga, Italy has raced in China 4 previous times with a 4th place finish in Shanghai in 2004 being his high water mark.
Australian David Trask started 2008 in a good way with a 3rd place in Qatar but a pair of failures to finish followed with a 6th place in Russia has moved the driver from Brisbane into 8th place in the championship for the Trask Brothers Racing Team. David has tasted success in China before earning his first ever podium in the 2006 race while finishing 5th in Xi’an last year.
Brother and teammate Bob Trask is 14th in the championship with a 7th place finish in Lahti being his best performance this year and a 5th in the 2006 in China being his best run thus far.
Philippe Chiappe of France is 9th in the title race as he makes his 5th start in China. The driver for the F1 Atlantic Team has finished all four races this season in the top-10 with a 7th in Doha being his best so far. His greatest success in China is a 7th in 2006. His teammate Duarte Benavente of Portugal is 13th in the championship earning a fine 4th at his home Grand Prix being his high water mark thus far in 2008. Last year in China Duarte earned two straight top-10 finishes.
Italian veteran Francesco Cantando of the Singha Team is trying to get back on track having damaged his boat in a big way with a dramatic crash on the opening green flag lap at the Grand Prix of Finland. His fight for first place was a noble one but his boat couldn’t be readied a week later in Russia, thus failing to take the start. His best placing this season is a podium with a steady 3rd in Portimao. The native from Milan, who has 11 career victories, is 11th in the championship. The race in China is a sentimental place for him as this is the country where he started his F1 career back in 1996. A 3rd in Shanghai in 2004 is his best result here.
Marco Gambi of Italy, teammate to Cantando is coming off his best performance of the season with a 9th in Russia. He has one previous start in China back in 2004 where he started and finished 20th position.
Rookie driver Uvis Slakteris of Latvia and leading contender for “Rookie-of-the-Year” honors is doing a great job for the F1 Team Sweden Team as the third driver. The 28 year-old driver is 12th in the championship with 10 points including a pair of 6th place finishes at Doha and Lahti.
Both drivers from the Rainbow Team are chasing their first points of the season. Norway’s Marit Stromoy is coming to China for the first time and will be starting her 8th career event. Her best ever finish is an 8th at the 2007’s last meeting in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile, Italian Valerio Lagiannella has just 3 finishes in his career 11 starts and is hoping for his first career points when he races in China for the first time.
The beginning for a grueling two race in three week performance in the Far East begins on the weekend of the 11th and 12th of October in lovely Liuzhou for the 8th Grand Prix of China. Three drivers with a combined total of 5 years experience are leading the title race so far all hoping to carry their first half of the season successes into the start of the 2nd half.
All three pilots are from different continents. However, the dream is the same, to win the U.I.M. F1 World Championship and the first of two back to back races in China will go a long way in determining this journey. Stay tuned as the 2nd act of this year long play about to begin.