H2O Racing
Union Internationale Motonautique


June 7, 2024


Friday, June 7:  After a two-and-a-half-month break in the calendar since the inaugural Grand Prix of Bình Định-Vietnam on Thi Nai Bay, action resumes in the 2024 UIM F1H2O World Championship with the Regione Sardegna Grand Prix of Italy in Olbia next weekend.

The season has enjoyed a thrilling start with sensational races on Lake Toba in Indonesia and a superb debut event in Vietnam. Teams will now have to adjust to the challenges of racing on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia once again and, although they can expect warm ambient temperatures, it will be a far cry from the heat and humidity of Vietnam and the changeable and humid conditions they experienced in Sumatra. Sardinia will also see the racing timetable moved to the more traditional afternoon slots after the Southeast Asian races were held in the mornings to avoid potential adverse weather conditions and excessive heat.

The Victory Team’s Erik Stark heads to the city of Olbia with an eight-point lead in the UIM F1H2O World Drivers’ Championship. He took full advantage of a hard-earned pole position to lead a yellow-flag interrupted Grand Prix of Bình Định-Vietnam from start-to-finish to seal his fifth ever race win.

The Swede finished the race just 2.715 seconds ahead of fellow countryman and defending World Champion Jonas Andersson after the pair had dominated the qualifying session and the two Sprint races, with Stark storming through to win Sprint race one from Canadian rookie Rusty Wyatt.

Andersson collected a 33rd career podium and a second-place finish enabled Team Vietnam to earn a 15-point cushion over the Sharjah Team in the UIM F1H2O Teams’ Championship with the Victory Team in third. Andersson also led the second of the Sprint races from start-to-finish to add 10 points to his tally. He is now tied on 47 points with Wyatt and is eight adrift of Stark after two rounds.

After stunning the racing establishment with a thrilling last-gasp victory on his F1H2O racing debut in Indonesia, Wyatt proved that his first ever win was no fluke with a solid follow-up performance in Vietnam. He finished second to Stark in the first of the Sprint races and was able to shadow the CTIC China Team’s Peter Morin to the chequered flag to pick up points for fourth place in Quy Nhơn.

A spectacular coming together between the Sharjah Team’s Filip Roms and the China CTIC Team’s Brent Dillard forced a yellow flag midway through the race in Vietnam and that stoppage enabled Morin to overtake Wyatt and snatch third and the final place on the podium – his cause helped when Wyatt suffered communication issues with his radioman at the crucial restart.

Morin heads to Sardinia lying fifth in the Drivers’ Championship behind Strømøy Racing’s Bartek Marszalek. After finishing fifth on Lake Toba, the Pole was running strongly in the second Sprint race in Vietnam before suffering a jammed throttle in the final minutes of the race. That pushed him down to fifth but last year’s Grand Prix of Indonesia winner put that setback behind him to card a fifth-place finish in the Grand Prix on Thi Nai Bay.

Andersson’s Team Vietnam sidekick Stefan Arand proved in Indonesia that his inclusion in the team was a master stroke by Andersson. The young Estonian finished just off the podium in Sumatra and picked up nine points for shadowing his team-mate to the finish of the second Sprint race in Vietnam. Unfortunately, his goal of impressing the local crowd ended on lap seven of the Grand Prix when he ground to a halt with a broken propeller. As a result, Arand slipped to sixth in the Drivers’ Championship.s

Double World Champion Sami Seliö is two points behind the Estonian in seventh in the points’ standings after finishing sixth and seventh in the opening two Grand Prix and picking up 14 points from the two Sprint races. The Red Devil-SMC F1 Team driver’s team-mate Ferdinand Zandbergen has endured a fraught start to his 2024 racing campaign: the Dutchman languishes in 12th in the Drivers’ Championship after failing to finish on Lake Toba and then being disqualified from 10th place in the Grand Prix of Bình Định-Vietnam for taking the wrong direction on the race course.

Marit Strømøy continues to show rapid progress in the new Mercury four-stroke DAC and is four points behind Seliö in eighth in the Drivers’ Championship. The Norwegian finished seventh in Sumatra and eighth in Vietnam and has also collected a dozen points in the two Sprint races.

Thani Al-Qamzi currently holds ninth in the standings and is the highest-placed of the Team Abu Dhabi drivers after a disappointing start to their season. The once all-conquering team currently holds seventh in the Teams’ Championship with Al-Qamzi’s team-mates Alberto Comparato and Rashed Al-Qemzi holding 15th and 17th in the Drivers’ Championship.

Al-Qamzi failed to finish on Lake Toba - where Comparato came home in ninth - but the veteran made amends with sixth in Vietnam. Comparato spectacularly crashed out of qualifying in Quy Nhơn and team manager Guido Cappellini took the decision to rest the Italian for the remainder of the race weekend. He was replaced by Al-Qemzi, who went on to finish out of the points in 11th. The team will now be hoping to bounce back strongly on an island where Cappellini achieved so much personal success as a driver.

The F1 Atlantic Team’s Ben Jelf has enjoyed a strong start to his season and will be aiming to build upon the 15 points that see the Briton holding 10th in the title race. He finished eighth in Indonesia and out of the points in 12th in Vietnam, but an excellent showing in the opening Indonesian Sprint race netted Jelf eight valuable championship points. Team-mate Duarte Benavente is 16th in the rankings after failing to finish the last race in Vietnam.

The aforementioned crash in Vietnam proved expensive for both Dillard and Roms. The American earned a point for finishing 10th in Indonesia and also featured well in both Sprint races but Roms has yet to finish a Grand Prix this season and has 10 points to his name from a pair of sixth-place finishes in the Sprint races.

Maverick Racing’s Cédric Deguisne collected a championship point for finishing 10th in Vietnam and has six additional Sprint race points, while team-mate Alexandre Bourgeot was unable to start the race in Vietnam after running out of time trying to repair the damaged DAC that he had brought into service to replace his original Moore. The Frenchman failed to finish in Indonesia as well and has two points to his name for finishing ninth in his Sprint race in Indonesia.

After missing the opening round through suspension, Stark’s Victory team-mate Ahmad Al-Fahim claimed his first points of the season with ninth place in Vietnam after failing to finish his Sprint race.

The weekend’s on-water action roars into life with a pair of free practice sessions on the Olbia course on Friday, June 14th. The two one-hour sessions kick off at 14.30hrs and 16.30hrs, respectively.

Qualifying takes centre stage from 10.00hrs on Saturday (June 15th) and the opening Sprint race gets underway at 15.00hrs with Sprint race two following at 15.45hrs.

After a one-hour warm-up session from 10.00hrs on Sunday (June 16th), the Regione Sardegna Grand Prix of Italy gets the green light at 15.00hrs.