Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente held off a fierce challenge from Norwegian lady racer Marit Strømøy to win the GP of India and now leads the 2018 F1H2o Drivers World Championship standings.
Torrente, Strømøy and Erik Stark were the class of the field that suffered a high rate of attrition on the punishing Indian river course.
Three-time World Champion Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team all but lost his chance of regaining the title after a start lap collision and defending champion Alex Carella of the Victory Team retired at the start with his own engine issues.
The first race to be held in the country since 2004 did not disappoint in the excitement stakes and Chiappe’s team-mate Peter Morin finished fourth overall with Italian veteran Francesco Cantando rounding off the top five.
The result also enabled Team Abu Dhabi to extend its lead over the CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team to a massive 65 points.
Race winner Torrente is really enjoying his Indian Summer of formula racing.
A great result for me and the team again with a 1-3 this time out.
Now I am the top of the championship and that is a position I want to stay in until the end of the last race in Sharjah….
Grand Prix of India
Team Abu Dhabi’s Torrente, Stark and Al-Qemzi lined up in pole, third and fourth positions for the fifth round of what is developing into a pulsating UIM F1 H2O World Championship.
But there was more pre-race frustration for double World Champion Sami Selio: the Finn damaged his engine in the morning’s practice session and was not able to start the race.
A clean run out to the opening turn buoy was a long one and was crucial at the start of the 44-lap race on the 2.125km river course.
Hot, humid conditions and large numbers of spectators were the order of the day and Torrente made a superb start and held his line through the opening corner until a yellow flag was raised when four-time World Champion Alex Carella suffered an engine issue and Philippe Chiappe was sidelined after a collision with Duarte Benavente that also spelt the end for the veteran Portuguese driver.
Strømøy had struggled away from the start and lost her second place to Stark, but the yellow flag situation played into her hands somewhat when action resumed on lap four and she was reinstated in second.
Torrente maintained his advantage after the restart and Strømøy managed to hold off a fierce challenge from an airborne Stark to defend her second place in dramatic fashion.
Championship leader Thani Al-Qemzi plummeted down the leader board from fourth to 14th before withdrawing with engine issues, as Jonas Andersson and Morin rounded off the top five heading into lap eight.
Torrente’s lead over Strømøy climbed to 3.19 seconds through lap 11, but the Norwegian was still coming under pressure from Stark, as fourth-placed Andersson began to pull clear of Morin, Francesco Cantando and Ahmed Al-Hameli.
Grant Trask was the next to fall by the wayside with engine issues after 13 laps.
Torrente maintained a 3.42-second lead through lap 16 as the leading seven boats held station and Bartek Marszalek, Erik Edin and Filip Roms rounded off the top 10.
The high-speed procession continued into lap 25 and Torrente headed into the 26th tour with a lead of 4.03 seconds.
Stark continued to pressure Strømøy for second place, but Marszalek had fallen by the wayside with a mechanical problem after 23 laps and Frenchman Cédric Deguisne lost 10th place soon afterwards.
The gap at the top began to narrow as the race headed into the remaining 10 laps.
The Team Abu Dhabi driver led by 1.78 seconds and Stark was a further 1.14 seconds behind.
Andersson ground to a halt with his own mechanical issues on lap 34 and lost out on a possible fourth position.
The Team Amaravati driver’s place was taken by Morin, as Cantando, Al-Hameli, Edin and Roms rounded off the top eight until Al-Hameli slipped down to eighth place.
The top three held station into lap 40 and Morin was a distant fourth, but there were no changes to the leader board over the remaining four laps and Torrente held on to claim victory over Strømøy by 2.17 seconds and snatched the lead in the World Championship.
Stark kept up the pressure on his team-mate with the final podium place.
Action in the UIM F1 H2O World Championship reaches a conclusion with two races in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in December.
2018 Grand Prix of India – result:
1. Shaun Torrente (USA) Team Abu Dhabi 44 laps
2. Marit Strømøy (NOR) Emirates Racing Team @2.17sec
3. Erik Stark (SWE) Team Abu Dhabi @3.53sec
4. Peter Morin (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team @21.12sec
5. Francesco Cantando (ITA) Blaze F1 Team @49.47sec
6. Erik Edin (SWE) Team Amaravati L1
7. Filip Roms (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team L1
8. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team L3
9. Simone Schuft (DEU) Blaze F1 Team L7
10. Sutthipan Sookbuangbon (THI) Maverick F1 Team L9
Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Amaravati DNF
Cédric Deguisne (FRA) Maverick F1 Team DNF
Bartek Marszalak (POL) Emirates Racing Team DNF
Grant Trask (AUS) F1 Atlantic Team DNF
Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi DNF
Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team DNF
Alex Carella (ITA) Victory Team DNF
Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Tea DNF
Sami Selio (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team DNS
2018 UIM F1 H2O World Championship – standings after round 5:
1. Shaun Torrente (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 72pts
2. Erik Stark (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 65pts
3. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 54pts
4. Peter Morin (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 39pts
5. Philippe Chiappe (FRA) CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team 34pts
6. Marit Strømøy (NOR) Emirates Racing Team 26pts
7. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) Victory Team 18pts
7. Erik Edin (SWE) Team Sweden/Team Amaravati 18pts
9. Jonas Andersson (SWE) Team Sweden/Team Amaravati 14pts
10. Francesco Cantando (ITA) Blaze F1 Team 10pts
11. Alex Carella (ITA) Victory Team 9pts
12. Sami Selio (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 7pts
13. Grant Trask (AUS) F1 Atlantic Team 5pts
13. Duarte Benavente (PRT) F1 Atlantic Team 5pts
15. Bartek Marszalak (POL) Emirates Racing Team 4pts
15. Filip Roms (FIN) Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team 4pts
16. Cédric Deguisne (FRA) Maverick F1 Team 3pts
17. Simone Schuft (DEU) Blaze F1 Team 2pts
18. Sutthipan Sookbuangbon (THI) Maverick F1 Team 1pt