There’s bitter disappointment tonight in the Sharjah Team pit after their Number One driver Sami Seliö had to retire from second place after he was hit in the rear as he was overtaking a backmarker during the Federazione Italiana Motonautica (FIM) Grand Prix of Regione Emilia Romagna, Round Two of the 2022 F1H2O World Championship.
Earlier Seliö had gone ‘toe-to-toe’ with the pole setter Shaun Torrente as the pair headed to the first turn mark. The Sharjah Team driver left enough space on his inside for the Team Abu Dhabi racer to slip past as per the racing rules but easily managed to hold off Philippe Chiappe who had started from third place. For the next eighteen laps Seliö maintained the gap to Torrente whilst never coming under pressure from the French driver behind him.
Then as Seliö was approaching the pit end turn he could see Marit Stromoy had moved over so went to make his turn when all of a sudden Stromoy cut in from the outside and hit him in the right sponson. In the impact her BaBa hull rolled and for a while the Norwegian driver was trapped upside down in her cockpit. Fortunately she was eventually able to surface and was picked up by the rescue team who were there on the scene within several seconds.
The impact though had left Seliö with a huge hole at the rear of the sponson and out of the race. Now the mechanics are in for a long night as they rig the spare BaBa hull which Ferdinand Zandbergen used to finish in fourth place with at last November’s Grand Prix of Figueira Da Foz.
“That’s one of the most dangerous accidents I’ve had in my racing career” said Seliö, “Their radioman told Stromoy that it was ok to close the turn and she hit me. Honestly, I have never heard that a radioman causes an accident, I think it’s time she replaced him.”
As the Sharjah Team agonised over the loss of a podium place there was also joy for Zandbergen when the young Dutch driver was finally classified in fifth place. During the morning Free Practice session, in which Seliö had posted the fastest lap time, Zandbergen had continued propeller testing. “The set of props we tried felt very stable giving me great control of the boat. My confidence has finally returned after my dreadful weekend last June at the French Grand Prix.”
As the red start lights went out he made a superb start, which even surprised him as he was soon able to overtake both Bartek Marszalek and Alex Weckstrom. “I had discussed my race strategy with team after the mornings practice and we agreed that it was get to the end of the race without any incident, after all I’m still building up my F1 experience.”
Within a few laps though he felt that the balance of the boat had altered and initially put it down to the choppy water conditions. This allowed Weckstrom to catch and pass him, so his engineers suggested altering the lift which then made a huge difference to the way his BaBa hull handled the conditions.
“My lift was a touch too high and when I altered it I was able to close back up to Weckstrom but getting past him was a different proposition altogether. Now of course I’m really relived to score some points; not only that I have also learnt so much more about how to set the boat up, so for tomorrow I’m confident that once again I can finish in the points.”
As the results were being posted it was announced that both Stromoy and her radioman had received yellow cards from the UIM Officials for ‘Dangerous Driving’ and ‘Non respect of the Overlap Rules.
It’s going to be a long night in the Sharjah Team pits as the mechanics and technicians set about preparing Seliö’s hull ready for the Federazione Italiana Motonautica (FIM) Grand Prix of Italy, Round Three of the 2022 F1H2O World Championship.