Sami Seliö, the lead driver in the Mad-Croc BaBa Racing Team started the 14th Grand Prix of Sharjah knowing the chances of winning his third World Championship title would largely depend on whether his rivals engines would hold together in the thirty-eight lap race or would the curse of racing on Friday 13th strike at the Khalid Lagoon circuit.
Seliö, who had taken pole position the previous season, started this year’s race way down the pontoon in, of all places, thirteenth on the grid. He was forced to start there following his crash in the second qualifying session which left his BaBa raceboat too badly damaged. His team-mate Filip Roms offered Seliö the use of his raceboat, which meant that at least he would be able to start the Grand Prix. “We Finns never give up” said Seliö, “even if the odds are stacked against us.”
For Sami, who having missed the 2011 Grand Prix whilst recovering from a crash in China, this was actually his thirteenth race in what has become the Cultural Capital of the Arab World.
As the red start lights went out fifteen drivers headed off to the first turn on the radically different circuit. Where once was the first right hand turn, that’s now been replaced by a 700 metre straight, making overtaking easier on a course that once was described as the Monte Carlo of the powerboat racing world, such was it’s narrowness and tight turns.
Putting this revised layout to good use was Seliö as he surged up through the field to challenge for seventh place after just one lap. Ahead of him was the Kuwaiti driver, Youssef Al Rubayan, but the F1 Atlantic Team driver had been adjudged to have jumped the start lights, so would have to serve a drive through penalty, moving Seliö up a place.
Within seconds Al Rubayan was back on the course and catching Selio as the Finn was now struggling with a technical problem. Seliö was literally powerless to defend his place and pulled off the race course with a broken crank-shaft.
“The start was really good” said an up-beat Seliö, “my strategy was to push straight away and get as close to the leaders as possible, because I know that Sharjah is an all or nothing circuit. Then my luck ran out, it’s terrible, we had our chances but when you are fighting against the big budget teams from Qatar, China and Abu Dhabi it gets so frustrating.”
“Sure, everyone has bad days but when a well funded one has one they bounce right back as if nothing has happened. Torrente blew it over during the first free practice and he’s come back today to finish third. I know we have the speed because it’s only me and Carella that have started from pole position this year” continued Seliö, “what we need is a strong sponsor. Now that we have the race shown live on television back in Finland and hopefully a race there next season it should make our job of finding that sponsor a little easier, but it’s still going to be a long hard winter looking for them before we start again in Qatar next year.”
In the meantime Seliö now heads back to Finland where he will spend Christmas relaxing with his family before his thoughts turn to the 2014 UIM F1H2O season.
Top Ten 2013 World Championship Points Table:
1. Alex Carella QAT Qatar Team 80 points
2. Shaun Torrente USA Qatar Team 74 points
3. Philippe Chiappe FRA CTIC China Team 69 points
4. Sami Seliö FIN Mad-Croc Baba Racing 64 points
5. Youssef Al Rubayan KUW F1 Atlantic Team 29 points
6. Thani Al Qamzi UAE Team Abu Dhabi 29 points
7. Jonas Andersson SWE Team Azerbaijan 27 points
8. Marit Stromoy NOR Team Nautica 18 points
9. Francesco Cantando ITA Singha F1 Racing 17 points
10. Ahmed Al Hameli UAE Team Abu Dhabi 16 points