Saturday, December 9: Team Sweden’s Jonas Andersson stormed to victory in the first of two 15-lap Sprint races at the Road to Sharjah-Grand Prix of Sharjah on Saturday afternoon.
The World Champion held off Mad Croc Gillman Racing’s Grant Trask through lap one and managed his pace to perfection. He reached the chequered flag clear of the Australian after the race finished under a yellow following a spectacular crash for the China CTIC Team’s Brent Dillard at turn two.
Andersson said: “We always go for the win and I already won the championship and it will be a dream if we can with the Teams’ Championship as well. We are a small team and we are going to go all-in. Hopefully we can be up there with both boats tomorrow.”
Bartek Marszalek of the Strømøy Racing F1H2O Team almost hooked his boat at a turn buoy and lost third place to Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al-Qamzi shortly before Dillard barrel-rolled and caused the yellow flag. The Pole was then reinstated in third place and held that position to the finish under the course yellow.
The F1 Atlantic Team’s Ben Jelf, Australian racer Brock Cohen and Alexandre Bourgeot were the only other finishers.
Boats that had qualified in pole position, fourth, fifth, eighth, ninth, 12th, 13th, 16th, 17th, 20th and 21st lined up in Sprint Race A in a gentle breeze on Khalid Lagoon. No championship points were on offer on this occasion but the new format provided a fantastic opportunity for drivers to showcase their skills in front of an appreciative crowd.
Bourgeot changed his engine for the race but started at the rear of the field in any case with Ferdinand Zandbergen pulling out after the start.
Andersson duly lined up on pole from Trask, Marszalek and Al-Qamzi. The Swede held off Trask through the opening turn buoys and began to pull clear of the Australian with Marszalek and Al-Qamzi trailing in their wake. Cédric Deguisne ground to a halt and Sami Seliö was also sidelined after two laps.
By lap five, the new World Champion headed Trask by 4.642 seconds and he maintained a steady pace through the remaining laps to claim the win, with Trask, Al-Qamzi, Marszalek and Jelf rounding off the top five after Dillard barrel-rolled his boat and forced a yellow flag.