Team Abu Dhabi’s Torrente sets early pace in China - GulfToday

Team Abu Dhabi’s Torrente sets early pace in China


Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente in action during the practice session in Xiamen on Friday.

Xiamen: Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente underlined his determination to clinch a second successive drivers’ title in the UIM F1H2O World Championship on Friday by setting the early pace at the start of a tense race weekend in China.

Carrying a slim three-points lead over Sweden’s Jonas Andersson into Saturday’s Grand Prix of Xiamen, Torrente was comfortably fastest in the two-hour official practice session with a lap of 55.41 secs on the 2,516m Wuyan Bay circuit.

With Norway’s Marit Stromoy (56.39) and Italian former four-times world champion Alex Carella (56.37) clocking the two next best times, Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al Qemzi (56.39), lying third in the world title race, was fourth fastest.

Stromoy, looking to keep her title challenge on track and close the gap to the top three at Grand Prix of Xiamen on Saturday and the Grand Prix of China on Sunday, knows that nailing her starts will be crucial.

She is currently fourth in the points table and has been a major force in qualifying at the last two races grabbing P3 and P2 but in both of the races gave up position and any advantage she had off the dock.

“We found some major problems after Evian and we think the reason why the boat doesn’t accelerate as it should from the dock. But we are confident we have solved the problem,” Stromoy said.

“Qualifying has been going really well. We have now found a good set-up for Q2 and Q3 where before we had issues in Q2 and we have proved for sure we have the speed in Q3. So hopefully having solved the start problem I am hoping for two good races here.

While this year’s F1H2O World Championship concludes in Sharjah in December, developments in the Grand Prix double header in China in the space of 24 hours could decide the major issues.

The boats return to the water at 9.45am on Saturday morning for another practice session before the pole position race at 11am for the Grand Prix of Xiamen to follow at 4pm.

The frantic race programme continues with an identical schedule on Sunday culminating in the Grand Prix of China. Team Abu Dhabi’s Torrente and Qemzi, starting the weekend with eight Grand Prix career victories each, hold a 32 pts lead over Team Sweden in their bid to retain the world team title.

Meanwhile, Scott Gillman has ended speculation about his future plans following his exit along with those of Ahmed Al Hameli and Alex Carella from Victory Team in the summer.

Whilst Carella continues his season racing with Maverick F1, Hameli sits out the remainder of the year, with Gillman now very busy putting a team together for 2020.

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