Friday, December 8: The Swedish duo of Jonas Andersson and Erik Stark battled it out for supremacy in the first official free practice for the Road to Sharjah-Grand Prix of Sharjah late on Friday afternoon.
The bragging rights in the Scandinavian corner of the paddock went to the current World Champion with a fastest lap of 46.475 seconds. Stark eventually finished the session just 0.076 seconds behind but his time was eclipsed by Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente. The American left it until the last five minutes to take to the water and his fifth lap time of 46.514 seconds was sufficient to push Stark down to third place.
Andersson said: “I have a new boat that we never tested and I really wanted to use it here. We had an issue with the power steering (in extra free practice) so I go back to the old one for tomorrow. The feeling in the new one is very nice so, for sure, we are going to use it in the first race next year. Winning the championship in Olbia was fantastic. I had all my sponsors there and it was a great time, a fantastic feeling. But now we really need to push here in Sharjah to try and win the Teams’ Championship and Pole Position (Trophy). For me, it is like a normal race.”
The China CTIC team’s Peter Morin was fourth in free practice and Torrente’s team-mate Rashed Al-Qemzi carded the fifth quickest lap. Only 15 of the 21 boats took advantage of the session.
Andersson was quick out of the blocks in the shortened second stint of the afternoon and the World Champion ran a 47.145sec lap to hit the front in his old boat. Stark had skipped the earlier opportunity to test but the Victory Team racer wasted no time in posting a competitive lap and surged into second place with a 47.400sec run. The Swede then moved ahead of his fellow countryman with a 46.552sec flier, only to be outdone again by Andersson’s subsequent session-winning lap of 46.475sec.
Torrente headed out on to the water in the closing five minutes and the Team Abu Dhabi racer split the two Scandinavians with his fifth lap of 46.514 seconds with around a minute left on the clock.
Three BRM Qualification sessions take centre stage on Saturday morning from 09.30hrs with all boats racing together in Q1, followed by Q2 to the usual format to determine the final six boats for the Q3 pole position session. This will also decide the outcome of the UIM F1H2O Pole Position Trophy.
Two 15-minute Sprint races (A and B) will then follow on Saturday afternoon from 15.00hrs with the line-up and starting orders determined by the morning’s qualifying sessions.