Sunday, 4 September, HARBIN (China): Finland's Sami Selio didn't make the same mistake twice, as he charged from his pole position off the start dock and went wire to wire winning the 60 lap fourth round of the 2016 UIM F1H2O World Championship in front of tens-of-thousands of race fans at the Hulan Estuary Wetland Park.
His 13th career victory moves him squarely back into the championship picture past the halfway point of the season.
The 41-year-old driver from Helsinki, held off his younger teammate Filip Roms of the Baba Racing Team from the start and never looked back, picking up 20 championship points and 35 in his last two events and now has moved up to fourth place in the Drivers’ Championship. “It was a great victory for this team and now we know we have the momentum to win more this season in my new BABA boat that seems to be getting better race after race,” said Selio. “We started the weekend off chasing the monkey a bit, but we finally started getting the chips into place and felt we were on track for something special and it happened today with a big win.”
Speaking of his teammate Roms, the 22-year-old was pushing the two-time world champion to the limit staying within three seconds of Selio for the first third of the race.
Disaster struck Roms when on the 24th lap points’ leader Alex Carella of Team Abu Dhabi got side by side as they battled for second place. The two got together as Carella tried to pass on the outside as they pinched into the turn buoy with Roms going over the top of the three-time world champion with both coming to a bone crushing ending.
Roms was judged to be OK by medical personnel, while Carella, a four-time winner in China, was taken to the local hospital for a 12 hour observation period as a precaution, making sure he would be allowed to leave on Monday.
The incident dropped Carella from first in the points chase down to third with 42 for the season.
Selio’s win was his 13th in his 18 years of racing F1H2O as well as ending his drought of going 14 races without a victory since his Abu Dhabi triumph in 2013.
Taking the runner-up spot was Swedish driver Jonas Andersson, who had qualified third and earned his first podium of the season and the 14th of his career moving up to fifth in the championship with 33 points. “It was a big day for myself and the team on a race circuit that was short and tricky to drive, but in the end, we got it right,” said Jonas. “Our set-up was such that we couldn't have passed Sami, but it was good enough to hold off a two-time world champion so we are pleased with our day overall.”
Defending World Champion Philippe Chiappe of France charged his way to the front pack of boats after having his worst qualifying day in nine race seasons yesterday and starting 14th off the start dock.
From there, he and an unlikely partner in Shaun Torrente from America, who also had the misfortune of engine problems, was starting 16th and the two of them flew almost in formation and running quickly up into the top ten grasping for important world championship points.
The driver from the CTIC China Team worked his way up to third coming home with 12 points and now has moved back to the top of the championship table for the second time this season with 52 points.
Torrente, who finished fourth, put on a great show, moving up 12 places in the event for his Victory Team. His streak of four straight podium third places came to an end but he has now moved into second place in the championship with 45 points as the series heads to Liuzhou in a months’ time with the Florida driver having new resolve in his search for his first world title.
Fifth was Swede Erik Stark as the Emirates Team driver held his own after qualifying in the same position and earning his first top-five finish of the season.
Sixth went to Norway's Marit Stromoy as the EMIC Team driver set the fast lap of the race pushing hard to reach the top-five but falling just short of her goal.
Portuguese driver Duarte Benavente earned his fourth straight top-10 performance of the year in seventh place after qualifying ninth on Saturday for the F1 Atlantic Team.
Bartak Marszalek from Poland was eighth in his Blaze Performance Team DAC boat earning his third top-10 in his three races this season.
China's own “Leo” Xiong had a good day on the water coming home ninth after starting 11th for the CTIC China Team.
Rounding out the top-10 was German rookie driver Mike Szymura driving his Dragon boat to his second 10th place result in his last three events.
The race ended under a caution when on the 58th tour and two laps to be run in the Grand Prix, Ahmed Al Hameli of the Emirates Team blew over and barrel rolled to an immediate stop on the back stretch forcing the officials to end the race handing Selio the victory under the yellow flag.
The next round of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship heads to Liuzhou, China on the weekend of 1-3 October for the 21st Grand Prix in the People's Republic.