In previous years Liuzhou has been far from a happy hunting ground for Sami Seliö and his Mad-Croc BaBa Race Team. Often just getting to the end of a Grand Prix has been one step to far. So with this in mind you would be forgiven in thinking that Seliö would approach the nineteenth Grand Prix of China in a rather cautious manner.
On the contrary Seliö knew that with both Qatar drivers ahead of him and Philippe Chiappe, who had won at the previous round in the Kyiv region, alongside him on the start grid, he would need to push hard right from the moments the red lights went out.
As the pack sped away from the pontoon Seliö was immediately forced wide around the first turn and then had his mirrors full of the Frenchman’s Moore built hull. Out in front as predicted had gone the pole-man Alex Carella but with the race just one lap old out came the yellow flags after Xiong Ziwei racing for the CTIC China Team had suffered an engine failure on the turn six buoy.
With the local hero safely towed away, the Grand Prix resumed and once again it was Carella closely followed by his team-mate Shaun Torrente with Seliö in third followed by Chiappe. So it remained till lap seventeen when totally out of the blue Torrente stopped just after the second buoy. Eventually the driver from Florida managed to get his Mercury engine to co-operate but an intermittent electrical problem meant any chance of a podium finish had evaporated in the stifling Chinese heat.
This allowed Seliö to close right up on Carella and with the water conditions beginning to rough up the Mad-Croc driver could see that each time they negotiated the tricky right hand turn Carella’s DAC hull would skip through the air as the young Italian driver tried hard to balance his boat.
“I was thinking he had a problem” said Selio “He told me just after the press conference that he had struggled with the right hander as the race went on, there just wasn’t enough laps left for me to take advantage though.”
With no more incidents the race concluded after thirty-eight laps with a rather relived Carella taking the top step of the podium for a second year in a row.
Seliö was pleased with second place, especially after all the drama in recent years.
“We’ve had enough bad luck here” he said, “For sure the boat was going well today, though perhaps we went a little to safe with the engine set up as I didn’t have the acceleration that I needed to really trouble Carella. When you only have six races in a season it’s so important to pick up points at every race, so to come away from this event leading the championship is a perfect result.”
To round off a perfect trip to China Filip Roms, Seliö’s Mad-Croc Baba Racing team-mate scored his first world championship points this season with an excellent finish in ninth place. Having started at the back of the grid due to the team carrying out an engine change after yesterdays qualifying, Roms battled hard to stay in front of Ahmed Al Hameli from Team Abu Dhabi and was rewarded with two valuable world championship points.
With the world championship now heading to Qatar in November the pressure will be on to see if the local team can deliver the goods on a circuit where if it roughs up their DAC hull might just struggle against a well prepared BaBa hull.
Perhaps the Qatar Team should also take note of a Chinese proverb from olden times ‘When good fortune finally comes, no one can ever stop it.’
Final Result for the F1H2O Grand Prix of China:
1. Alex Carella QAT Qatar Team
2. Sami Seliö FIN Mad-Croc Baba Racing
3. Philippe Chiappe FRA CTIC China Team
4. Thani Al Qamzi UAE Team Abu Dhabi
5. Jonas Andersson SWE Team Azerbaijan
6. Shaun Torrente USA Qatar Team
7. Youssef Al Rubayan KUW F1 Atlantic Team
8. Bartek Marszalek POL Singha F1 Racing
9. Filip Roms FIN Mad-Croc Baba Racing
10. Ahmed Al Hameli UAE Team Abu Dhabi