DOHA - American Shaun Torrente as the Qatar Team survived not only a challenge by drivers from 10 different nations but a pair of boat fires and three yellow flag restarts taking the field by storm winning his first of the season and the second of his career in route to a 10.32 second margin in front of thousands of race fans along the corniche at the Grand Prix of Middle East on Doha Bay.
The Miami, Florida racer has now won twice in three starts in the last 12 months in Doha and has moved into third place in the drivers championship with 29 points on the UIM F1 H2O World Championship trailing his teammate Alex Carella by 11 points with two races to go in the season.
The Italian three-time World Champion, has now seen his 25 point cushion that he held entering the event trimmed to 10 after making a mistake while chasing Torrente in second place. Entering the final turn on the circuit he missed the corner and took out a pair of buoys thus being disqualified by the UIM officials and gaining no points.
For Torrente, he was over the moon with his most important career victory, "My boat was on rails and I really want to thank my crew for making it a winnable package," said Shaun.
"I'm sorry my teammate Alex had such bad luck today but now we can fight all the way to the championship final in Sharjah just like we did a year ago. You can't ask for much more than that."
Meanwhile, just behind Shaun was a another driver on a mission with Frenchman Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC China Team finishing runner-up for the second time in Doha this year and now sits second in the drivers championship with 30 points and just one ahead of Torrente.
"The new boat was excellent today and I really want to thank David Moore my boat builder for such a nice package," said the Rouen native. "We now feel we can push for the title all the way to the end and the next event in Abu Dhabi will be even a more ideal place for our team."
Third on the afternoon was a more relaxed two-time World Champion Sami Selio of Finland as the Mad Croc Baba Team driver charged up from eighth position off the start dock to hold off Swedish driver Jonas Andersson taking fourth just ahead of Italian veteran Francesco Cantando and rookie Erik Stark sixth in another solid performance.
"We came back a long way today," said Sami. "We used a few of the re-starts in our favor and then didn't give ground and for me my first podium of the season is a big step forward for our program and we are still alive in the championship as well."
With the race four laps in the record books Chinese driver Ziwei "Leo" Xiong in his CTIC China Team Moore boat found himself alight at the back as his engine exploded and then caught fire.
With the rear of the boat ablaze the young driver from Shenzhen turned off the fuel pump and abandoned ship watching the boat continue to burn freely until the rescue boats came on the scene to eventually put the fire out but not before a large amount of smoke filled the paddock area. In the end "Leo" was not injured and the boat with some work will race another day.
In the meantime while all the attention was going on with the blaze of Xiong's boat, rookie Swedish driver Jesper Forss had is engine catch fire but it was quickly extinguished after he brought it over to his crew at the launch area ending his day.
The second yellow flag of the afternoon came out when Kuwaiti driver Youssef Al-Rubayan barrel rolled twice in turn number five ending his dreams of a top five finish at the same time for the F1 GC Atlantic Team.
The feel good story of the afternoon came from the South African Caudwell Team as for the first time both their drivers Ivan Brigada and Tomas Cermak came home in the top ten earning world championship points.
For Brigada, who won the race here back in 2006, placed seventh for his best finish with the team from Cape Town. The Slovenian driver Cermak tied his career best with a point for tenth place.
Polish driver Bartek Marszalek earned his third straight top ten performance with his eighth while young Finnish driver Filip Roms was ninth with the Mad Croc Baba Team.
Three rounds of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship are now in the record books with the all important fourth round coming next Friday at the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi along the corniche in the United Arab Emirates on the 20th and 21st of November.
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