Nestling on the banks of the River Tejo proved to be an idyllic location to host the Grande Premio de Vila de Rodao Press Conference hosted by the Presidente da Camara Municipal de Vila Velha de Rodao, Luis Pereira and Paulo Ferreira, the Presidente da Federacao Portuguesa de Motonautica.
Ferreira admitted that it had not been easy to host the event because the town didn’t have a huge budget but with the help of Liqui Moly and a partnership with Mercedes the dream of putting on this Grand Premio double header has been made possible.
With the help of the F2 drivers we want to make the River Tejo one of the best racing venues in Europe.
Sat with the local dignitaries and UIM Officials was the ‘local hero’ Duarte Benavente fresh from his victory at the opening round of the 2020 UIM F2 World Championship, the Grand Prix of Lithuania.
When asked about how much pressure he was under racing at his home grand prix he replied:
None, being in Portugal is fun because I love racing with my sponsors watching on and having some of my family members here.
So who did he see as his main challengers for his championship title push?
My biggest threats come from Colin Jelf, Sami Selio and Edgaras Riabko, with their experience and quality they are more than capable of winning here.
So what about Colin Jelf?
When you look back in history books you will see that the first year he won the F2 World Championship title was in 2006.
What is significate is that back then the Formula 2000 series, as it was referred to, consisted of only three rounds, Latvia, Spain, and China and after the opening race held in Riga Jelf was on zero points.
Here in Portugal he already has five to his name.
So could he be the won to snatch a victory here especially as just uncharacteristic mistake of clipping a turn mark back in Lithuania denied him the victory.
Selio was by his own admission ‘not on his A game’ in Lithuania but took some comfort by knowing that it was only the second time he had raced with the Mercury Optimax engine, the first was at the eventful Grand Prix of Finland held in Peurunka back in 2016, when he was involved in a crash.
Struggling to get off the start pontoon was his downfall in Kaunas, and he knows that this week one of his top priorities will be practise starts:
I have heard a lot of rumours of how the Optimax starts, all I want is a nice clean one.
Riabko will be looking to go one step higher when the drivers gather for the podium presentation on Thursday afternoon.
With the one and half kilometre circuit consisting of seven turn buoys, his DAC hull will be the ideal hull for the short, sharp nature of the River Tejo course.
Bimba Sjoholm will be looking to make amends after crashing out in Kaunas, especially after taking her first F2 pole position:
We haven’t done any testing since Lithuania as the boat went straight to Christian Molgaard to be fixed.
Fortunately, there wasn’t much damage in fact Christian said it must have been a ‘careful crash’
Action gets under way for the nine drivers with Free Practice on Wednesday morning followed by a mid-afternoon qualifying session as we take a step closer to seeing who will take the 2020 UIM F2 World Championship crown.