SAN NAZZARO, Italy: The 2022 UIM F1H2O World Championship reaches a critical stage in Italy at the weekend, with Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente and Thani Al-Qemzi looking to tighten their grip on the title race in a Grand Prix double header.
It is just over three months since the team enjoyed a perfect start to the 2022 campaign, when Torrente won the Grand Prix of France from team-mate Al-Qemzi on the Saone River circuit in Macon.
Two-times world champion Torrente is keen to resume his bid for a third F1H2O driver’s title, and relishes having Al-Qemzi as his closest challenger, and at the same time his partner in pursuit of a fifth team championship triumph.
“It seems like a different season from when we were in Macon, but hopefully we can carry some of that momentum forward,” said the American, ahead of Saturday’s Grand Prix of Regione Emilia-Romagna in San Nazzaro, followed 24 hours later by the Grand Prix of Italy.
“The main focus in our preparation is always on the way the boat handles. Then it’s all about speed and qualifying, making sure the engine package is right, that the improvements made to the boat are good, and that we get reacquainted really well with each other again.
“The main thing that makes us hard to beat is that Thani and myself complement each other well, and it’s the same throughout the team. Everybody knows their job and does their job well,” he added.
Torrente said that adding to his successive world title wins in 2018 and 2019 would be “incredible.” But he pointed out that he would be the first to congratulate Al-Qemzi should the Emirati overtake him in Italy, or at December’s final round in Sharjah, to land his first individual F1H2O crown.
The two Team Abu Dhabi drivers are determined to make amends for last season’s final round disappointment in Portugal, when Sweden’s Jonas Andersson edged out Al-Qemzi by a single point, with Torrente just two more points away in third.
Andersson will be aiming to boost his hopes of a successful title defense after a fifth-place finish in France, while Sharjah Team’s Sami Selio will be hoping for a change in fortune after a major setback in Macon.
The Finnish driver was leading from pole position in the opening round before mechanical problems put him out of the race.
Selio must also put behind him the frustration of being disqualified from last Sunday’s UIM F2 World Championship decider in Portugal, where Team Abu Dhabi’s Mansoor Al-Mansoori was installed as world champion.
2022 UIM F1H2O World Championship leading positions:
Shaun Torrente (UAE) 20 points
Thani Al-Qemzi (US) 15
Peter Morin (FRANCE) 12
Alec Weckstrom (FINLAND) 9
Jonas Andersson (SWEDEN) 7
Marit Stromoy (NORWAY) 5