Erik Stark won this afternoon’s F1H2o Grand Prix of France on his debut for Team AbuDhabi.
His team mate Thani Al Qemzi kept him honest through 2 re-starts due to yellow flags, while Shaun Torrente climbed from 7th to round off the podium places.
The sensational result for the team running out of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) on the six-pin, 2.08km course on Lac Leman enabled Stark to storm to the top of the points’ standings and move two clear of his experienced team-mate Thani Al-Qemzi.
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.
Sweden’s Erik Edin finished fourth, Frenchman Peter Morin was fifth and Jonas Andersson passed the chequered flag in sixth position after starting at the rear of the field following an engine change.
Three-time World Champion Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 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, with Chiappe in second position and Francesco Cantando impressing in fourth place.
Jonas Andersson was forced to start from the rear of the grid after engine issues on Sunday morning and double World Champion Sami Selio suffered fuel tank problems and changed to a bladder tank before the race after damaging his engine during BRM Qualifying on Saturday afternoon.
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 under 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.
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.