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Tønsberg Back on Track.

Chris Davies on 25th May 2024

If you cast your mind back to August 2014 some of the sporting highlights that month included Serena Williams not losing a set in the entire US Open tennis tournament, winning her third straight title in the process. England supplanted Australia to finish top of the medal table at the Commonwealth Games, and Daniel Ricciardo winning the Belgium F1 GP at Spa Francorchamps in his first season at Red Bull.


It also marked the year that Frode Sundsdal introduced Tønsberg, the oldest city in Norway, to the UIM F2 racing community. Now ten years later he’s about to welcome those racers back to the Municipality after a four-year gap.

Of course I’m delighted to welcome the drivers back to the Tønsberg Båtrace’ said Sundsdal, now Chairman of the recently established Tønsberg Motorsport Club, who will run the UIM F2 World Championship round on its traditional first weekend in August date. ‘The club is now established; sponsorship agreements are falling into place and most importantly the agreement with the Union International Motonautic (UIM) has been signed for the 2024 season giving us the ‘green light’ to host the event.

‘Tønsberg Motorsport Club is a newcomer in the Norwegian powerboat family, in line with our strategy to enlarge the sport in Norway’ said Mr Svein Henriksen,


Head of the Norwegian Powerboat Section at the NMF. He continued by saying that the NMF were excited to see the F2 Worlds returning to Tønsberg this August.


‘We are convinced that the organiser Tønsberg Motorsport Club, headed by Mr Sundsdal who is certainly no newcomer, will put on a show which racers and the public will certainly appreciate.’


In setting up the club Sundsdal was very keen to include younger members on its board, amongst them will be the UIM GT30 World Champion William Martinsen, who collected the HH Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan Abu Dhabi Trophy at the UIM award ceremony in Monaco. Joining him in the decision-making process will be Camilla Øksenholt, who is no stranger to the Båtrace as her mother Joyce Christine Andersen was often described as the ‘glue’ that held the race weekend together whilst working for Tønsberg Båtrace AS and in her role of Deputy OOD.

Sundsdal continued  in saying,


We educate the youth on how to race a boat, which I’m a great believer in but at the same time we must encourage them to get involve with perhaps the less ‘glamourous’ side and that’s organising race events, because without getting young talented people like William and Camilla on board there will be no more races in the future, this is the true meaning of sustainability.’


Although the 2024 version of the Båtrace is still work in progress, Sundsdal is keen to see the action getting under way on the Friday evening with an Opening Ceremony followed by the Speed Run and then the drivers from the UIM F2 World Championship competing in a Match Race alongside the restaurants on the pier.


As an organiser I personally believe that the current race format needs updating along similar lines that the F1H2O series are now using. I wanted to make those changes but soon realized that I could only do so whilst working with the Formulae Committee Chairman Pelle Larson. So, for the moment we have changed our strategy to allow this UIM race to take place. As the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, ‘if you can’t beat them, join them.’


The Tønsberg Batrace has never failed to leave us with some talking points to discuss. Whether it was the tussle between the hard charging Matt Palfreyman and Pierre Lundin through the misty rain or that time Erik Edin barrel rolled his Molgaard and still finished on the podium. This event has also left us with a few heart stopping moments none more so than the crash between Sundsdal and Rashed Al Qemzi which happened on the opening lap during the 2018 race. Fortunately, both drivers escaped unhurt and whilst Al Qemzi is now a four-time UIM F2 World Champion, Sundsdal has been carefully building up his business portfolio and has signed up several partners that were involved during the pre-Covid days and he is very optimistic that several more will now follow.


He concluded by stating,


The future looks much brighter now for both Tønsberg and the UIM F2 World Championship. We’ve already hosted a very successful Tønsberg Boatshow during the first weekend of May. Additionally, the 2024 Death Diving World Tour had its opening competition on May 18th, drawing a crowd of 15,000 spectators and featuring 40 athletes from seven nations. The event, organized by RaceFactory and Tønsberg Motorsport Club, left the town in awe with its breathtaking competition.”

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