H2O Racing
Union Internationale Motonautique


September 30, 2023

Saturday, September 30:  Team Sweden’s Jonas Andersson led from start-to-finish to win the first of the two sprint races for the Group A entrants at the Regione Sardegna Grand Prix of Italy on Saturday.
The Swede finished the 20-lap sprint 2.86 seconds clear of second-placed Erik Stark to guarantee a front-running position for Sunday’s race although he would need to wait for the results of the second sprint race for the pole position rankings to be finalised.
Andersson said: “I was very happy for the pole position this morning on a tight course. We needed to make a good start and be out front in the end. But Albert (Comparato), Erik (Stark) and Abu Dhabi are very fast. It’s going to be a difficult race tomorrow.”
Behind Stark, the Sharjah Team’s Ferdinand Zandbergen, Grant Trask of Mad Croc Gillman Racing and Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al-Qamzi rounded off the top five.
The first of the sprint races would determine where the Group A entrants would eventually line up on the pontoon for Sunday afternoon’s race. The fastest 14 from the two sessions would be guaranteed a starting place for the Grand Prix provided that they finished 70% of the laps, while the slowest six from the two group races would slug it out in a repêcharge on Sunday morning with the fastest two joining the rear of the starting line-up.
Andersson, Stark, Zandbergen, Trask and Al-Qamzi held the top five positions at the start of the short 20-lap race in a strengthening breeze but Australia’s Brock Cohen had suffered a battery failure during the morning’s qualifying session and started the sprint race from eighth behind Brent Dillard and Marit Strømøy.
Andersson managed to hold off Stark around the opening turn buoys and began to edge away from his fellow countryman and extended his lead to 3.76 seconds through lap two. Third-placed Zandbergen held off Trask and Al-Qamzi as Andersson continued to pull clear of his rivals.
By the end of lap seven, the World Championship leader led the sprint race by 4.44 seconds as the 10 boats held station heading towards the halfway point. There were no changes in the qualifying order through 10 laps, but the top four began to pull clear of fifth-placed Al-Qamzi. Andersson retained a 4.29-second advantage after 13 laps and maintained his lead heading into the final four laps.
There were no late dramas for the Swede and he reached the chequered flag 2.86 seconds clear of Stark, with Zandbergen and Trask in third and fourth.  Dillard looked set to round off the top five after the American overtook Al-Qamzi in the closing stages of the race but he spun his boat within sight of the finish and the race finished under the yellow flag.
The incident lifted Al-Qamzi back to fifth place and Strømøy finished sixth, ahead of Dillard, Cohen and a distant Alexandre Bourgeot and Duarte Benavente.