For Sami Selio the 2012 season has produced both high points and some very low ones for the Mad-Croc F1 Team driver, but nothing could match the past twenty-four hours that the driver from Helsinki has had to endure. The race weekend started superbly when Selio took pole position for the fourteenth running of the Grand Prix of Sharjah, with a stunning final lap in the top-ten ‘shoot-out’ that left the other drivers with plenty to think about.
Then during the morning warm-up technical problems, that the team had thought they had left behind at the previous Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi started to reappear resulting in a gear case change just prior to the race start.
“It put us on the back foot to begin with” said Selio “but I still felt very confident going into the final race of the season.”
As the Grand Prix got under way it soon became apparent that Selio was struggling with a boat that just lacked any acceleration and on the tight confines of the Khaled Lagoon that would prove costly. He had already seen Thani Al Qamzi out race him to the first turn mark, but worse was to follow as he soon found himself down in fifth place at the end of the opening lap.
With the race hardly under way the yellow flags were soon out, quickly followed by the pace-boat. The British driver, Malcolm Goodman who had been challenging the hard charging Alex Carella had lost control of his new Dragon hull and span out just past the right hand turn. The race was soon back under way but Selio knew any chance of catching Al Qamzi for the lead would be impossible so began trying to fend off Jonas Andersson who was filling Selio’s rear view mirrors.
It wasn’t long before the pace-boat was back out on the course again, this time former world champion, Jay Price had crashed out with steering problems at the third turn, taking the marker buoys with him. As the race went on Selio began to loose visibility through the narrow screen fitted on his BaBa hull. “I couldn’t see anything, it was crazy, the screen was just covered with a thick layer of salt” said Selio. “It was so bad that I kept asking my radioman for direction.” In the end Selio had no choice but to ditch the canopy cover.
Once again the pace-boat was called into action as more drivers began suffering with mechanical woes up and down the course. In the restart Andersson used his superior acceleration to get past Selio dropping him down to fifth place and with that any chance he had of finishing in the runner position in this years championship just evaporated.
With the chequered flag out after the race had reached its forty-five minute duration a disappointed Selio made his way back to the pits. “In the end it’s been a terrible weekend” he said rather despondently. “Everything went wrong in the Grand Prix; the engine was so flat I couldn’t get any acceleration I was like a sitting duck in target practice at the start, and as to the visibility well I have never experienced anything like it. It’s such a shame the season has to end like this, but one positive we can take from this weekend is how well my team-mate Filip Roms drove. To finish in the top ten is great achievement and I’m really pleased with the way he’s driven throughout this season”.
Final result for the F1H2O Grand Prix of Sharjah:
1. Thani Al Qamzi UAE Team Abu Dhabi 33 laps
2. Terry Rinker USA Qatar Team 33 laps
3. Francesco Cantando ITA Singha F1 Racing 33 laps
4. Jonas Andersson SWE Team Sweden 33 laps
5. Sami Selio FIN Mad-Croc F1 Team 33 laps
6. Philippe Chiappe FRA CTIC China Team 33 laps
7. Scott Gillman USA Team Abu Dhabi 33 laps
8. Marit Stromoy NOR Team Nautica 33 laps
9. Filip Roms FIN Mad-Croc F1 Team 33 laps
10. Ivan Brigada ITA Cauldwell Racing 33 laps