Team Abu Dhabi’s racing trio of Erik Stark, Thani Al Qemzi and Shaun Torrente clinched an historic 1-2-3 finish at the 22nd Grand Prix of France
Team Abu Dhabi’s racing trio of Erik Stark, Thani Al Qemzi and Shaun Torrente clinched an historic 1-2-3 finish at the 22nd Grand Prix of France at Evian-les-Baines on Sunday.
The sensational result enabled Stark to storm to the top of the points’ standings and move two clear of his experienced team-mate Al Qemzi.
The Emirati pushed the team newcomer hard, as both drivers survived two yellow flag stoppages in a thrilling race where defending world champion Alex Carella of the Victory Team was hospitalised with a leg injury after a 24th lap crash and Torrente overcame missing out on Q3 qualifying on Saturday to climb from seventh to the final place on the podium.
Sweden’s Erik Edin finished fourth, Frenchman Peter Morin was fifth and Jonas Andersson passed the chequered flag in sixth after starting at the rear of the field following an engine change.
Three-time world champion Philippe Chiappe finished three laps behind and slipped to fourth in the championship standings, as Team Abu Dhabi also took control of the Teams’ Championship.
The Team Abu Dhabi trio of Stark, Al Qemzi and Torrente had lined up in pole, third and seventh positions for the 42-lap race.
Stark came under pressure from Al Qemzi and then began to pull into a lead, as Torrente climbed to fifth position. Sami Selio suffered ongoing engine issues and an accident involving Filip Roms brought out the first yellow flag on lap seven.
Racing resumed on lap 12 and Stark held his advantage while Carella crashed out heavily on lap 24 and the race was yellow-flagged again. The Italian sustained a broken right tibia and was transferred to hospital for treatment.
The race resumed on lap 31 and Stark kept his cool to stay ahead of his team-mate as the Team Abu Dhabi trio held on to snatch a memorable 1-2-3, but there was disappointment for Francesco Cantando who stopped with mechanical issues on the last lap.
Torrente said: “This is a fantastic result for the team. It’s history with a 1-2-3 and we are 1-2-3 in the championship.
“I was really happy with my drive. Coming from behind, it was one of my better drives. I took my chances when I needed to without being overly aggressive. The boats were prepared so well. We had exactly the same set-ups on all three boats.”
Action in the UIM F1 H2O World Championship resumes in Xiangyang, China, from September 22-23.