With the opening round of the 2015 F1H2O World Championship commencing in two days time, Finland’s Sami Selio has been rather busy throughout those eighty-four days since last season’s finale in Sharjah.
Coming into his nineteenth year of racing the UIM’s premier circuit class, the lead driver in the Mad-Croc BaBa Racing Team believes that he still has a lot to offer the world of powerboat racing. “I’m now in the best physical condition that I have ever been in” said Selio. Though it’s hardly surprising when he tells you this, bearing in mind that when he’s not travelling overseas he spends over an hour each day in his gym. “I’ve been training harder than ever and I have even taken up Tae-Kwando. Our Grand Prix can be over in forty-five minutes, that’s like a blink of an eye compared to some motor racing events, so it’s crucial that you stay sharp and focussed throughout the entire race.”
Looking back at his 2014 season he said that it was a real shame that there was only five Grand Prix. “Ok, it was impossible to race in the Ukraine; Kiev is a beautiful city and I hope that one day we get a chance to race there again. Then there was the funding problem with Malaysia when the main backer died. Finding suitable venues with enough finance in place to back the race have become a major problem in all levels of powerboating, not just F1H2O.”
Even though only one person scored points in every round of last years championship; Bartek Marszalek who finished eighth overall, Selio still believes that consistency played a major part in Philippe Chiappe winning the series and that’s where Selio felt his own title bid became unravelled. “With so few races one bit of bad luck and your season might as well be over. We still don’t know what happened to the engine when it developed a mechanical problem at the opening round in Qatar. Then switching to the new boat in China caused us even more issues. This new boat needs to be raced on the edge as it’s much shorter in length.” In fact compared to the BaBa boats Selio was racing two years ago this latest creation from the drawing board of Massimo Roggerio is twenty centimetres shorter.
“These days it’s all about acceleration and that’s partly the fault of the UIM Commissioners because they have shrunk the courses” said Selio. “I hope they start listening to the Team Owners and give the drivers a mix of longer and shorter ones.”
Amongst the three new venues that have appeared on the calendar is one that Selio is really looking forward to racing at and that’s Porto. “I can’t wait to go and race in such a beautiful city” he said. “I think the course will follow a similar layout to the one used back in 2007 when the Red Bull Air Race was held there. 600,000 spectators packed the banks of the Douro River to watch that event, can you imagine the impact it would have on our sport if we get that number sat there watching us.”
During his time off racing Selio has been heavily involved in getting the F1H2O World Championship a new Finnish TV broadcast partner and just last week he closed a deal with the commercial television channel Nelonen. They are best known for showing live coverage of the MotoGP series, along with coverage from NASCAR and the WRC. They will be airing live coverage from all the Grand Prix on the 2015 calendar and providing the commentary will be a very familiar voice to F1H2O. Pertti Leppala, twice runner-up in the F1 world championship back in the 1990’s, will be using his knowledge of the sport both as a racer and event organiser to keep the Finnish viewers up to speed with what’s unfolding in front of their eyes.
Over the winter months the F1H2O World Championship has seen some driver changes to various teams, most noticeably former Mad-Croc racer Alex Carella, who became Team Abu Dhabi latest signing following a managerial switch of Scott Gillman to Guido Cappellini. “I’m really not that surprised he switched with very little notice” said Selio. “We thought we had a deal in place with him to race for us in the 2011 season and then the next thing we knew was that he’d signed for the heavily funded Qatar Team. I don’t hold a grudge against him for making that decision, plus I think there is more to his switch to race for Team Abu Dhabi than people realise.”
There are no driver changes for the Mad-Croc BaBa Racing Team, as competing alongside Selio will be his fellow countryman Filip Roms. He finished just outside the top ten in the 2014 World Championship, beating the likes of Jonas Andersson and Marit Stromoy in the process. “This season the team think that they have seen enough in his ability to make sure he gets the right equipment to get the job done” said Selio. “They are now willing to take a calculated risk when it comes to the engine and boat set-up. This year it will be maximum attack from Roms” promises Selio.
You can see how the pair of ‘Flying Finns’ get on in qualifying for the 11th Grand Prix of Qatar on March 13 at15:30 local time (12:30 GMT) by going via the series web site www.f1h20.com