Just four months ago strong gusting wind conditions had made life very difficult for the competitors taking part in the Nations Cup race and led to a new course for those drivers racing in F1H2O World Championship. Fast forward to the opening round of this year’s series and it’s a case of déjà vu as once again the Nations Cup was disrupted by a strong offshore breeze and yet again a revised circuit had been hastily arranged so that the twelfth Grand Prix of Qatar can take place.
In fact if you compared the top six on the grid to the last time the competitors took to the waters of Doha Bay it’s made up of five drivers who dominated qualifying back then, the only exception being that Thani Al Qamzi is missing this year after intervention from the UAE government prevent the team from travelling to the emirate.
So as the fourteen drivers from eleven different nations made their way out onto the new course, which now had the long straight close to the shore, in an attempt to reduce the risk of an incident, the sun finally made an appearance, but the threat now came in the form of rollers and the wash coming back from the concrete shoreline which saw several drivers airborne during the day.
Sami Seliö, the number one driver in the Mad-Croc BaBa Racing Team, was back in his slightly longer BaBa hull, one which he put to very good use at last season’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. On that occasion he qualified quickest and went on to win the race.
This time Seliö looked like he had done enough to claim yet another pole but had to settle for second place after the Swedish driver Jonas Andersson beat his time by just seven one-hundredths of a second .
“Andersson deserved the pole today, he did a great job out there” said Seliö. “To be honest I’m happy to be in second place ahead of both Qatar Team drivers racing in their own back yard.”
Pole was certainly an amazing achievement for the Swedish driver who earlier in the day had crashed heavily, stuffing his boat in the last seconds of morning free practice. To the underline his dominate performance Andersson went quickest in each of the qualifying sessions before finally claiming pole.
“I know Andersson is a fair racer so this time I’m not planning on repeating what happened the last time we raced here” On that occasion Seliö and Francesco Cantando collided at the first turn eliminating both drivers.
“When we line up tomorrow the race officials have said that they will penalise any driver that does not maintain their lane around the first turn. Let’s hope they keep their word and also that the weather conditions remain calm and the circuit is raceable because some times it’s been really tricky around here” continued Seliö.
“I need to concentrate on finishing high up in the points, with so few races on the calendar every point will be crucial this year. You can’t afford any stupid mistakes but you never know what will happen in racing.”
Result for the ‘Top Six Shoot-Out’ at the F1H2O Grand Prix of Qatar:
1. Jonas Andersson SWE Team Sweden 41:34 sec
2. Sami Seliö FIN Mad-Croc Baba Racing 41:41 sec
3. Shaun Torrente USA Qatar Team 41:44 sec
4. Alex Carella QAT Qatar Team 42:03 sec
5. Philippe Chiappe FRA CTIC China Team 43:43 sec
6. Youssef Al Rubayan KUW F1 Atlantic Team 43:77 sec
8. Filip Roms FIN Mad-Croc Baba Racing 44:33 sec