Mother Nature Plays A Role In Shortened Season!
LAUSANNE, Switzerland – 6th of January, 2006 – Historians, when looking back on the 2005 U.I.M. F1 World Championship season, will see a year that started in tragedy as a tsunami ripped through Southeast Asia canceling the seasons first two races, while mixing this with a remarkable comeback of a 9-time World Champion in the desert lands of the United Arab Emirates in the month of December.
The season, courtesy of Mother Nature was going to be a sprint race, with every event meaning more than in past season’s because of the shortened six race schedule. One driver in particular was under extreme pressure, but handled it with all the markings of a multi-time World Champion. Guido Cappellini of Como, Italy was back with his major sponsor Tamoil for another season. This time however with his signing for 2005 he promised to return to the top of the points table after falling to 4th in the 2004. Very simply put, Guido knew, lose the title and lose your sponsor. Cappellini would not fail in re-establishing himself as the world’s number one driver in 2005. He would win the title!
The season started out with the 20 year veteran of the sport establishing a new speed record of 256,25 km/h on a 1 km course on Lake D’Iseo in Italy in late April in a gala performance that would carry him through the rest of the season. At the years first event on the Algarve Coast at the Grand Prix of Portugal, Cappellini took the first of his three straight pole positions and powered to an early lead in the race only to have his most feared competitor for the title in the 2004 champion American Scott Gillman take the lead in the final third of the race. Cappellini never gave up and on the final turn of the event Gillman slowed and Cappellini was able to pass by and win by two boat lengths, the first of his four wins on the season.
It would be a familiar site all year long, Scott Gillman leading early, but Cappellini at the end winning. The 46 year-old showed what it took to bring home a championship at the finish and pick up all the hardware at season’s end. At the Grand Prix of Italy in Guido’s home town of Como, Cappellini lost the lead from the pole at the start and Gillman pulled away to an 11 second margin only to crash out hitting a rouge wave from a passing ferry boat with Cappellini going on to win for his 3rd straight time on the lake he grew up on.
The third event at the Grand Prix of Singapore saw Cappellini once again fastest by 5/100th of a second in his final pole of the season over Gillman. This race would prove to be one of the wildest series of events seen on the circuit in years. The first two laps saw a crash and a spin out followed by a pair of restarts. Cappellini held the lead but was now being hounded by a faster Gillman trying to get by lap after lap, when finally, the native of California was able to nose ahead. Moments later as they went into the right hand turn at the start finish line Cappellini now on the outside and as they were about to set for the turn they both touched which resulted in one of the most momentous crashes in recent history. Both drivers were quickly rescued with Cappellini spending a night in the hospital and Gillman upset and back in the pits knowing his chances for the title were fast disappearing. After a jumbled re-start that saw some drivers jump the start lights and with darkness setting in the event was stopped before the halfway point with Italian Francesco Cantando of the Singha Team being awarded his 11th career victory.
Guido Cappellini had received a red card for his involvement in the accident with Scott Gillman by the U.I.M. officials in Singapore, but later it was rescinded when he was ruled unable to challenge the verdict since he and his crew representative were in the hospital with Guido getting treatment. His one race ban was lifted and Cappellini was allowed to move on to the first ever Grand Prix of Qatar in Doha. This time it was Scott Gillman with pole position and the lead, but once again he was forced to retire when his engine went flat and Cappellini jumped at the chance for the lead and never looked back taking his 3rd win in three finishes to gain a commanding lead with two races to be run.
The season wrapped up with the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi followed a week later in the city of Sharjah both lovely settings in the United Arab Emirates. In Abu Dhabi this time Gillman would take no prisoners and led from start to finish, completing the job he had been trying to do all season long, win a race, his 21st of his 9 year career on the circuit and his first of 2005 in dominating fashion. Cappellini, meanwhile, tried hard for pole position but settled for 2nd. Once the race started he didn’t force the issue knowing he had to just stay ahead of Finnish driver Sami Selio of the Selio F1 Team to take the title. Forty-five laps later, mission accomplished, Selio crashed out chasing Guido on the 25th lap and Cappellini cruised to 3rd and his 84th podium in his 130th start to capture his record breaking 9th world title.
The gloves were off at the Grand Prix of Sharjah with the title in Cappellini’s back pocket. Everyone was excited to watch a no holes bared shootout with both Cappellini and Gillman going for broke. Gillman took the pole, the race lead and then did his usual for this season, he had equipment problems when his power steering failed him and he drifted back to finish a disappointing 5th. Cappellini once again took advantage and the win his 50th of his career and finishing the season with 92 points.
While Cappellini and Tamoil were celebrating another championship title, Gillman was shaking his head wondering what he did wrong to deserve such an unlucky season leading every race only to win one and knowing that winning the “Pole Position Championship” for the 2nd straight season being his only reward while finishing 3rd in the drivers championship with 42 points.
Another driver of the year candidate was Selio who started off the season with an unknown “Baba” boat hull and who would go on to finish 4 times on the podium with three runner-up spots at the Grand Prix’s of Italy, Singapore and Sharjah to secure his 2nd place in the championship with 49.5 points. His qualifying efforts were once again a strong suit with 5 straight top-6 appearances. His 20 top-5 finishes are remarkable considering he has failed to finish 23 times in the 56 race starts that he has had. Now the likeable driver from Helsinki will be looking forward to moving up one more step in the championship and securing his first F1 career victory at the same time in 2006.
Italian Fabio Comparato of the Comparato Racing Team knows what it takes to win, but didn’t win this season as he took 4th in the championship with 39.5 points on the strength of a 3rd place at the opening round at the Grand Prix of Portugal sprinkled in with 4 top-4 performances in the five races he finished. A victory, one that he earned a season ago at the Grand Prix of Malaysia wasn’t in the cards this season, however, he was a driver who moved forward once the races began finishing ahead of his qualifying efforts in four of his five race results. The driver from Chiogga, Italy will once again regroup and look to once again win next season and try to be a real front runner for the title in the upcoming campaign.
Philippe Dessertenne of the Ligier Charente Maritime Team once again proved he was one of the best in the business taking 5th in the championship with 39 points. His best race result was a 2nd at the Grand Prix of Qatar while scoring success with two podiums and 4 top-4 finishes at seasons end. His best qualifying efforts were a pair of 3rd’s at Como and Doha. A heart breaking failure to in finish late in Como hurt his chances of finishing up in the top-3 in points at seasons end. One of his most enjoyable moments of the season came when he won the “Golden March Race” event the day after the Grand Prix in Singapore. With a projected Grand Prix in his home town next season and his continued help by his group of great sponsors, look for Philippe to win once again in the upcoming season.
Saudi driver Laith Pharaon had his Team Green in fine form once again as this most professional of race efforts put together a series of three straight 5th place finishes in the opening 3 races of the year, high lighted by a season best 2nd in Abu Dhabi. His success in the Middle East events has been magic and he proved this once again only to have to drop out just before the start of the final round at Sharjah because of a boat that was falling apart and couldn’t be repaired in time for the event. If circumstances had been different, he could have finished in the top 3 instead of his 6th place and 32.5 points. His spirited driving early on at the Grand Prix’s of Singapore, Qatar and Abu Dhabi once again showed that Laith is one of the best skilled drivers in the world and will be hungry to get back into the win column in 2006.
For three time runner-up in the championship Italian Francesco Cantando his win at the Grand Prix of Singapore and a 7th in the title run with 32 points was a positive event in a mostly disappointing season for a driver who has the talent to win the title year after year. The lead driver of the Singha F1 Team had 2 podiums and had season spent trying for a top three finish while playing catch-up in the points chase. His failure to complete the opening event in Portugal put him behind for the rest of the season after dropping out in 3rd. In Como he came charging up to finish 4th after starting a woeful 21st. His hard luck continued even though winning from 3rd in Singapore a race which awarded only half points because of failing to go half the race distance. Finally, his failure to finish in Qatar took him out of the title race. Abu Dhabi was a 10th place struggle before wrapping up a fine 3rd at seasons end. Set for next season the likeable driver from Milan will once again charge for a title as the 3rd winningest driver on the tour.
One-half of Australian brother combination David Trask was coming off his “rookie-of-the-year” award winning season to take 8th in the championship with 16.5 points at seasons end. The XPV Racing Team driver had no “sophomore slump” in his 2nd season carrying the momentum of winning the Australian championship to 4 top 10 finishes and a best 5th place at the Grand Prix of Qatar. His confidence is getting stronger after a season where he continued to move forward in each of the four races he finished. His memorable moment came in Abu Dhabi when he pushed hard at the start and got together with Fabio Comparato only to crash out as his boat desinigrated on board two turns later ending his race in a giant crash on the opening lap. Now with two seasons in the book look for this eastern Aussie to push towards a top 5 finish in the title run for next season.
Ninth in the championship is the veteran driver Andy Elliott of the ACE Racing effort who is the oldest on the circuit but who has one of the youngest spirits in the paddock. The Englishman ended up with 12 points at seasons end. His podium finish at the Grand Prix of Italy in Como turned out to be one of the high lights of the season with this being his best finish in over a decade on the tour. His fresh new Dragon boat built by Jonathan Jones of Wales seemed to give him new confidence and only a series of mechanicals with just one finish in six starts gave him a realistic shot at a top-5 finish in the season’s point standings. His 2nd place at the final “Golden Match Race” in Abu Dhabi helped end his season with a smile. He’s hoping he can carry that momentum into the upcoming campaign.
For Danish driver Gert Ladefoged of the Danita Team, considering he started just two of the six events, made a real impact with a 6th at Portugal and a 5th in Abu Dhabi. His many business obligations kept him away for most of the season but his results gave him a tie for 9th place with 12 points. His best qualifying effort was a 3rd in Portugal as a high, but a delaminating boat in Qatar kept him from racing and this was his season low. Next season Gert will be hoping to put in more of a show and really challenge for his first win of his career at the same time.
Veteran Italian Massimo Roggiero of Team Green was a busy man in 2005. He not only helped in the design of the new Baba hull but when he was racing and able to finish he had 3 straight top 7 finishes to tie for 9th with 12 points at seasons end. Failing to get into the race in Portimao in Portugal put him behind in the chase for the title with his best weekend coming at Qatar when he qualified 7th and finished 6th. His best qualifying effort was a 3rd at the final round in Sharjah. This three time winner of the circuit is hoping that with a new boat and new desire he will once again push for more race wins in the upcoming season.
Abu Dhabi native Thani Al Qamzi of the Emirates Team finished 12th in the championship with 11.5 points on the strength of three top 10 finishes. His season’s best result was a 6th at the final round in Sharjah sandwiched with a 7th at the opening round at the Grand Prix of Portugal. In qualifying, Thani had 3 top-10 efforts with his best being a pair of back to back 8th’s in both Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in front of his hometown race fans. Since starting his full time career in 2001, Thani is hoping to improve on his two career podiums and his 6 top-5 finishes next year.
The 2003 Rookie-of-the-year Julius Leysen of the Selio F1 Team was 13th in the championship point race with a total of nine. He ended his season on a high note after three straight top 10 finishes to end the campaign. The native of Belgium had a wild see-saw type of season with three straight DNF’s followed with 3 race finishes at the end. His best day was in Sharjah where he finished 7th and a high note on the season as well. He plans to come back next year as he chases his first ever podium in his three year career.
One of the most disappointed drivers of the season has to be the talented pilot from Lisbon Duarte Benavente of the Atlantic Team. The many time F4 champion finished with just 8 points and 14th overall with three top 10’s in six race starts. His 7th place finish at the Grand Prix of Qatar was his best effort of the year. A 10th at his home Grand Prix in Portimao and an 8th in Como were his finishes in 2005. The 34 year-old driver is hoping he can get back on track as he starts his 8th season next year with a new direction and a new Dragon boat underneath him.
Another F1 veteran Fabrizio Bocca of Casalle, Italy came home 15th in the championship with 7 points for the one-time World Champion. The lead driver of the Rainbow Team had three top 10 finishes with his 7th at the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi being his best performance on the water during the 2005 season. He started the year with a 9th in Portimao and a 10th at his home Grand Prix in Como, but three DNF’s stopped his progress of a strong challenge for a top 5 finish in the points chase at seasons end. The 2006 season will hopefully bring him more top 5 results as he tries to improve on the 41 he already owns in his career.
Rookie-of-the-year was German Fabian Kalsow of Tamoil Team. The young driver started slowly failing to get going in Portugal but got more confidence taking a fine 16th at his first racing action at Como. His improvement continued at the Grand Prix of Singapore with an 11th place finish and bettering that even more with a pair of finishes in the points with 8th place results in Qatar and Sharjah. Part of the “Tamoil Triplets” he will be back next year with renewed confidence and ready to take the next step in his development as a driver on the tour.
Qatar driver Mohammed Al Ali showed why we is a good F2 driver by finishing 17th in the title with 4 points running in the series final four events for the Rainbow Team. His back to back 9th place positions in the Emirates went along with a spinout in Singapore and a heavy crash at his home grand prix in Doha early in the event. He got the attention of the paddock when he qualified a fine 11th on Doha Bay. Despite his brief campaign he was still in the running for rookie-of-the-year honors all the way to the final race in Sharjah. Mohammed could be a driver to keep an eye on if he continues to race in the series next season.
Italian Luigi Roberto came and joined the Comparato Racing effort at the seasons 3rd event in Singapore and came away with 1.5 points and 18th in the championship. He started 21st on Marina Bay and came home 8th for his only point’s result of the season. He finished his final three races with 3 straight DNF’s and a season best 19th in qualifying at the Grand Prix of Qatar. The F2 and F3 driver is hoping to get more “seat time” and continue to develop in his racing career in 2006.
Australian Bob Trask leader of the XPV Racing effort struggled with a boat he knows is being fazed out. He now is ready to show in 2006 on the world circuit what he did on his native Australian circuit in 2005. Bob’s best finish was a 10th at the final round at the Grand Prix of Sharjah. He had a trio of DNF’s and was disqualified for taking out a pair of buoys at the Grand Prix of Italy as he was pushing for a points paying position. His best qualifying day was an 11th at the opening round in Portimao in Portugal. Ready to start his 4th season, Bob will have a new boat and more races under his belt and be ready for another giant step forward in his career in 2006.
Norway’s Rolf Sunde drove for the Danita Team finished in a tie for 19th in the championship as a replacement driver in two races. He again impressed the racing fans around the world with a fine 9th in Singapore. His next race saw him crashing very hard at the Grand Prix of Qatar injuring his back and ending his all too brief season on Doha Bay. Rolf, looked like he was going to win at Singapore, only to find out at the end that he jump started the lights and was moved down a lap to 9th position. He is another driver with natural talent that should be given more of a race presence in the future.
Marco Gambi of the Atlantic Team finished in a tie for 19th in the championship with 1 point that he earned at the Grand Prix of Qatar with a 10th place finish. The native of Milan struggled with mechanical woes most of the season and did a credible job qualifying a years best 14th at the opening event in Portugal. He had one telling moment during the season crashing hard as he and Julius Leysen got together just past the start finish-line at the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi.
Frenchman Philippe Chiappe with the Ligier Charente Maritime Team failed to gain points in six races giving his best performance at the year’s last race with an 11th at the Grand Prix of Sharjah. His three race stretch where he failed to finish in Singapore and Abu Dhabi sandwiched with a failure to start in Qatar ended any hope of him finishing in the top 15 this season. Philippe’s best qualifying day was at the Grand Prix of Portugal with a 13th place spot. His best day was in Singapore during the special Match Race when he finished a fine 2nd to his teammate Dessertenne in a French one-two on the podium.
Massimiliano “Max” Moreschi of Monza, Italy tried hard but just failed to finish in the points this season with the Singha F1 Team. His problems were mechanical woes. He finished 11th at the first race in Portimao and for the rest of the season dropped out with either engine or boat related problems. His efforts in qualifying saw him do a best in Singapore with an 11th. The youngster has a lot of desire and look for him to come back stronger next season.
Another Italian, Luca Fornasarig ran the opening two events with the Comparato Racing effort finishing both with a 14th in Portugal and a 12th in Como before ending his season. His qualifying saw him start 18th and 17th at those two races. Here’s hoping the good natured driver from Italy comes back for another season.
French driver Cedric DeGuisne also started the season’s two races before ending his efforts in 2005. He was 15th after qualifying 17th at the Grand Prix of Portugal and took 18th in Como after qualifying 24th at the Grand Prix of Italy. The long time endurance driver hopes to come back to F1 in the near future and continue in the family tradition that his father Jean Vital began.
A third member of the “Tamoil Triplets” is budding superstar Ivan Brigada of the Tamoil Team that saw action in two races this season. At the Grand Prix of Italy he qualified a fine 8th and finished 11th just one position out of the points, while, failing to finish in Abu Dhabi after reaching the top-6 shootout for the second time in his career with a 5th starting position. He proved his talent by winning the “Golden Match Race” the day following the Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi showing he has the skills to be a star in the sport some day when given a chance.
Italian Valerio Lagiannella came to the series for the first two events with the Rainbow Team finishing a best 13th at the Grand Prix of Italy. His qualifying performance in Portugal was his best with a 16th place start and later 18th in Como. His progress was too short to determine his future and we only hope he gets another chance to run in the U.I.M. F1 championship.
Bruno Corsin of France came and raced at the Grand Prix of Italy and qualified 23rd and finished 15th on Lake Como for the F2 driver in his season’s only appearance. Arif Al Zafeen raced for the Danita Team at the Grand Prix of Singapore and the driver from the United Arab Emirates started 20th and was later disqualified in the event in his only appearance.
American driver Chris Fairchild came to the final two rounds in the Emirates replacing injured driver Rolf Sunde in the Danita Team. The native of Chicago came in with good credentials having finished 4th in the North American ChampBoat Racing Series. He jumped into a new boat and qualified it 12th in Abu Dhabi and was up to 8th in the race when he missed a right hand buoy circled it and was disqualified for doing so. His boat broke up and delaminated for the “Golden Match Race” event the next day and couldn’t be repaired in time for the Sharjah event.
Thirty race drivers from 5 different continents came to challenge the 6 races on 3 different continents for the 2005 U.I.M. F1 World Championship title. The series that high lights the worlds best drivers racing in front of tens of thousands of race fans while being broadcast on live television to an audience of nearly 750 million people around the globe bringing the best on the water for a sport of the 21st century. New drivers and new seasons constantly change the overall picture of the sport, however one thing is clear and that is dedication, preparation, talent and the will to win is all important at seasons end if you want to be declared World Champion. For one man, the pressure of the challenge of his sponsor, crew and self proved once again that the native of Como, Italy, Guido Cappellini has shown once again for the 9th time in his 20 years of racing that he is truly the “World Champion” of power boating.
But, as the sun rises and falls and the season goes from winter to spring a new call is heard and the races never stop. The laps are being challenged somewhere around the world as drivers from 18 different time zones prepare for a new challenge to be the 2006 U.I.M. F1 World Champion of power boat racing…the season of total commitment is about to begin….enjoy and stay tuned!