As the UIM F1H2O World Championship reaches the half way point in the 2013 season, Sami Seliö, the number one driver in the Mad-Croc BaBa Racing Team, who trails by just a single point in the drivers championship behind current leader Shaun Torrente of the Qatar Team, knows that now is the time to complete the Chinese Grand Prix having raced in Liuzhou six times but only finishing once when he won back in 2009.
“This venue has been really tough for me” said Seliö. “I had great success early in the history of this race qualifying with three straight pole positions in the first three events here back in 2008 and 2009 but haven’t done so since” said the driver from Helsinki.
Back in 2011, Liuzhou was the scene of his worst ever crash when, whilst fighting to stay up in the lead group of drivers he launched off a wave and nose dived his BaBa boat at over two hundred kilometres per hour. He was taken to hospital with serious injuries and was forced to miss out the final two races of that season.
That’s all in the past now, but Seliö is always aware of the constant danger that can strike at any time in powerboat racing.
“Yes there is always a risk” said Seliö, “but these days we can limit it using new designs and the latest spec material when we build the BaBa boats.”
As the seventeen drivers representing fourteen different nations headed out for the first qualifying session Seliö soon laid down the marker for the other drivers when after only five laps he posted the quickest time of 46:03 seconds round the two kilometre course, some three tenths of a second faster than Torrente.
Having set the quickest time in the second session the battle was now on to see who would join Seliö in the ‘Top Six Shoot-Out’. For a while it looked like Al Hameli would just squeeze ahead of his team-mate Al Qamzi for that final spot. Both Abu Dhabi drivers were using unfamiliar equipment after the ship carrying the Abu Dhabi F1 Team container from the UAE was unable to dock in Hong Kong due to a Typhoon. This inconvenience had obviously fired up Al Qamzi because with just seconds remaining in the session he edged out Al Hameli by less than two tenths of a second.
Waiting patiently on the dock Selio watched as each of the five drivers posted their times in the ‘Shoot-Out’ he also knew that as the conditions became calmer it would suit the DAC boats more than his BaBa hull.
“It was too smooth out there” said Seliö “I needed some chop on the water to really make the BaBa work, so I wasn’t really surprised to see both Carella and Torrente ahead of me.”
Having concentrated on the race set up Selio is confident of a good result for tomorrows Grand Prix of China.
“I know we have the race pace, plus looked what happened in Brazil where I made a terrific start off the dock” said Seliö. “Now if everyone maintains their own lanes round the first turn I think a top three place is not out of the question as I’m due some good fortune here in Liuzhou.”
Result for the ‘Top Six Shoot-Out’ at the F1H2O Grand Prix of China
1. Alex Carella QAT Qatar Team 45.50 sec
2. Shaun Torrente USA Qatar Team 45.54 sec
3. Sami Seliö FIN Mad-Croc Baba Racing 45.92 sec
4. Philippe Chiappe FRA CTIC China Team 46.08 sec
5. Francesco Cantando ITA Singha F1 Racing 46.49 sec
6. Thani Al Qamzi UAE Team Abu Dhabi 47.09 sec