H2O Racing
Union Internationale Motonautique


May 16, 2024


Thursday, May 16:  Sardinia will host the next round of the UIM F1H2O World Championship on June 14th-16th but the beautiful Italian Mediterranean island has a rich heritage in the sport’s premier series.


In the recent history of the F1H2O series under founder Nicoló di San Germano, the island’s capital Cagliari hosted the opening round of the series back in 1998. That race, in a season where the world title went to Welshman Jonathan Jones, saw 20 drivers battling it out for championship points.


The legendary Guido Cappellini took the chequered flag to earn the 20 points in his Laserline Racing DAC with Jones finishing second in a Dragon F1 Burgess. Scott Gillman was a relative newcomer to the scene at that point and he rounded off the podium finishers with Pertti Leppala, Fabrizio Bocca, the late Andy Elliott, Massimo Roggiero, Cipriano Lambri, Javier Amtmann and Andrey Berenitsine also in the points.


The city hosted the second round the following season in what turned out to be Cappellini’s most dominant of the 10 where he claimed the world title. The Italian won six of the eight races and finished second on two occasions to win the World Championship by a staggering 80 points. Gillman and Leppala finished second and third in Sardinia.


There were 13 Grand Prix at the turn of the century and Gillman narrowly beat Cappellini to win the 2000 world title by just three points after a season-long battle with Guido and Francesco Cantando. Cagliari hosted round six at the start of July and the American claimed the race win from Cantando and Roggiero after Cappellini retired.


Two Italian races were staged in 2001 and Cagliari hosted round six in a 10-race calendar where Cappellini regained his world title, despite retiring in Sardinia. Viktor Kunitch won the race from Gillman and Philippe Dessertenne of Team Fuchs F1. Cappellini repeated his World Championship win in 2002 and also topped the standings in Sardinia from Saudi Arabian racer Laith Pharaon and Gillman.


The 2003 series was fought out over eight rounds and Cagliari hosted race three with Cappellini again prevailing ahead of Gillman and Pharaon. A 10-race calendar returned in 2004 with Gillman claiming the title again and taking the chequered flag in Sardinia ahead of a young Sami Seliö and Duarte Benavente.


Racing headed on to the Italian mainland in Como in 2005 and 2006 but there was no Italian race between 2007 and 2019. International travel restrictions put paid to a racing calendar in 2020 but racing did return to the Italian mainland in 2021 with a Grand Prix at San Nazzaro in a shortened three-event programme.


San Nazzaro hosted a pair of races in 2022 and Sardinia made a dramatic return to the calendar with a race in Olbia in mid-October. Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al-Qamzi claimed the win from Jonas Andersson and Shaun Torrente with Torrente going on to claim the World Championship for a third time.


Last year, Olbia hosted race four in a five-round calendar and Andersson sealed victory on his way to a second World Championship. Frenchman Peter Morin and Ferdinand Zandbergen rounded off the podium places.