Sunday, October 1: Team Sweden’s Jonas Andersson led the Regione Sardegna Grand Prix of Italy from start-to-finish to confirm a second UIM F1H2O World Drivers’ Championship title in Olbia on Sunday afternoon.
The veteran’s 13th Grand Prix victory came after a weekend where he dominated qualifying, his sprint race and the Grand Prix to wrap up the title with one round to spare. The 4.95-second race win also enabled Team Sweden to extend its advantage over the Sharjah Team to 11 points in the UIM F1H2O Teams’ Championship.
The new World Champion said: “I am really, really happy to be in Olbia with the wonderful crowd here. It was a fantastic end and what a weekend for us! We came from a win in France but I didn’t think it would be possible to do it here. We had some issues. I broke my best engine in France and had to go home and make a new one. It seems it was quite good so…!”
It looked as though his fellow countryman Erik Stark was set to finish second until the Victory Team driver made a mistake at a turn buoy and hit dirty water over the closing laps, slipped to fifth place and gifted second and a repeat career-best finish to the China CTIC Team’s Peter Morin and the final spot on the podium to Ferdinand Zandbergen of the Sharjah Team.
Young Alberto Comparato delighted the home fans with fourth place, Stark finished fifth and Mad Croc Gillman Racing’s Filip Roms and Grant Trask were sixth and seventh. The Team Abu Dhabi duo of Thani Al-Qamzi and Rashed Al-Qemzi finished eighth and 10th, with Morin’s team-mate Brent Dillard sandwiched between the Emirati cousins in ninth.
The Strømøy Racing F1H2O Team duo of Bartek Marszalek and Marit Strømøy finished outside the points in 11th and 12th overall, with the F1 Atlantic Team’s Ben Jelf, the Victory Team’s Ahmed Al-Fahim and Kalle Viippo of Team Sweden rounding off the 15 finishers.
Andersson had the distinct advantage of starting the 40-lap race from pole position as he aimed to close out the win and earn a second world title with a Grand Prix to spare. The boats started the race in two groups of eight with around four seconds between the two in a bid to ensure that the race began smoothly on the narrow and challenging course.
The Swede managed to hold off Stark, who managed to muscle his way passed Comparato and snatch second place. Andersson began to pull away from the rest of the field and was 4.39 seconds in front of his fellow countryman after just two laps. At the rear of the field, Ben Jelf moved up two places to 13th at the expense of Al-Fahim and Kalle Viippo. Al-Fahim was running with a loose canopy on his Victory Team boat.
There was no respite for his rivals, as Andersson continued to surge away from his rivals and catch the tail-enders from the second group of eight starters. But Stark began to pull a little time back and the gap was down to 2.33 seconds after lap eight. Comparato, Morin and Zandbergen rounded off the top five. The gap was down to just 1.04 seconds at quarter-distance, as the rest of the field held station and Andersson began to catch the midfield runners in dirty water.
Andersson stemmed the flow of time over the next few laps and headed into lap 20 - the halfway point of the race - with a lead of 3.95 seconds. Comparato had slipped back to fifth behind the leading two Swedes, Morin and Zandbergen and was running just ahead of sixth-placed Filip Roms. The two Team Abu Dhabi boats were running in eighth and 10th, but Brock Cohen had been the first retirement after 15 laps.
The procession continued through 25 laps with no changes to the race order. Andersson was able to manage his pace and extended his advantage to over four seconds heading into the remaining 14 laps. The gap was down to 1.95 seconds after 30 laps, but the Swede was edging closer to a second world title in three years. Morin spun spectacularly, managed to regain control but the Frenchman lost third place to Zandbergen.
Heading into the last five tours of the Olbia course, Andersson led by 3.32 seconds and the Swede held on to seal a second title by 4.95 seconds after Stark dropped down to fifth near the finish and gifted second place to Morin. Zandbergen, Comparato and Stark rounded off the top five.