F1H2O and Aquabike Championships return to Sharjah for grand finale - GulfToday

F1H2O and Aquabike Championships return to Sharjah for grand finale

Sharjah Grand Prix

The 2021 Grand Prix of Sharjah will take place at the Khalid Lagoon from Dec.13-18. File / Courtesy: F1H20 website

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

H2O Racing, promoter and organiser of the UIM F1H2O World Championship and UIM-ABP Aquabike World Championship, confirmed that the 2021 Grand Prix of Sharjah will be taking place at the picturesque Khalid Lagoon from Dec.13-18.

The announcement made by the organisers cements the UAE’s position on the global map as a leader in the sports world during the current global coronavirus pandemic.

Since the year 2000, the splendid scenery of Khalid Lagoon has always hosted the final stage of the Championship, thus becoming the ‘longest-running’ location in the history of H2O Racing and the one where the most exciting ‘battles’ for the title of F1 World Champion took place. Right at the end of last race held on December 2019, the 20th anniversary of the GP of Sharjah was celebrated with a stunning party in the desert and a promise from both sides to continue this long-lasting and fruitful cooperation between Sharjah and H2O Racing.

Such is the commitment that, after two years of enforced break, we will be starting again this year!

“We are very happy to resume racing in Sharjah,” said Lavinia Cavallero, senior Vice President of H2O Racing, according to a F1H20 report.

“Sharjah is a location that has always welcomed us with great enthusiasm and affection and which is now in the hearts of all of us organisers, staff and drivers. I would deeply thank our historical partner, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development, who have always believed in us and who has always allowed the realisation of the most beautiful races in our history by using professionalism, seriousness and passion for this sport.

“Sharjah means a lot for all of us and for me personally: it represents the culmination of a year of work, adventure, hard work and this end-of-season appointment has become over the years like a ‘family reunion’,” she added.

“Special thanks goes to Khalid Al Midfa, Chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, who honours us with his friendship and to whom we owe all our gratitude and esteem.”

Midfa commented: “The Grand Prix of Sharjah has become a leading water sports arena in the region and we at Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority look forward to resuming this extremely popular event, placing Sharjah at the forefront for engaging sports activities and sports tourism.

“I am extremely happy to welcome the H20 Racing group back to the shores of Sharjah for the exciting 21st edition of the UIM F1H2O World Championship.”

The chairman further noted: “The 20 years of the F1 have seen Sharjah become a strategic tourism destination, occupying a distinctive place on the local and international tourism map for hosting international water sports events and the return of the event reflects the emirate’s strong commitment to supporting such events and underpins our dedication to moving forward successfully after the events of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Furthermore, visitors can be assured that the strictest guidelines and security precautions will be followed, allowing all to enjoy the event in safety,” he added.

The devastating coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the sporting calendar, with numerous events cancelled and postponed as the world grapples to control the spread of infections.

Last year, all the Grand Prix and races of the 2020 UIM- F1H2O World Championship were cancelled owing to the restrictions concerning the pandemic. The decision was taken in agreement with local authorities and organisers to reduce the spread of the virus.

Ahead of the new season, new entries at 10 F1 participating teams are lining up to compete for the world title.

The first big change is the new team Stromoy Racing which is based in Sandefjord, Norway.

After 13 years in F1 in different teams Marit Stromoy,  Norway’s first lady of Motorsport and ‘UIM 2019 Driver of the Year’, decided it was time to have her own team,  to continue the partnership with Bartek Marszalek as second driver and Andrea Colombo, as team manager.

“I am very grateful to Paola Gillman for all the seasons together, said Marit, “with Paola and Scott I have improved as a driver and as a manager of my own boat and crew. Now I am very proud to race under the Norwegian flag.”

The first driver reshuffle of the year was announced last January by Jonas Andersson, last year’s world championship runner-up and owner of Team Sweden,  Andersson confirmed that 21-year-old Finn Kalle Viippo will make his UIM F1H2O debut after signing up to race for team  Sweden jointly with Jonas. 

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