Victory Team’s Stark secures win in inaugural Vietnam F1H20 GP - GulfToday

Victory Team’s Stark secures win in inaugural Vietnam F1H20 GP

Victory Team’s Erik Stark in action during the Grand Prix of Binh Dinh-Vietnam.

Victory Team’s Erik Stark in action during the Grand Prix of Binh Dinh-Vietnam.

The Dubai-based Victory Team’s Erik Stark took full advantage of his pole position to lead a yellow-flag interrupted first-ever Grand Prix of Bình Dinh-Vietnam from start-to-finish in Quy Nhon on Sunday morning.

The Swede completed the 35-lap race in stifling heat just 2.715 seconds in front of Team Vietnam’s defending World Champion Jonas Andersson. Stark’s fifth career Grand Prix win and a first since Sharjah in 2018 has given him an eight-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship. Andersson’s runner-up spot marked his 33rd career podium in F1H2O racing.

Stark said: “I had a good race. Of course, I was pacing myself and was feeling it. I had a big moment on the start straight and I thought this is it but the boat was good, the team worked well and I had amazing propellers from Mr. Dynamite. It was tough. It got quite rough and the wind was picking up all the time.”  

After a spectacular collision between the Sharjah Team’s Filip Roms and the China CTIC Team’s Brent Dillard that forced a yellow flag after 17 laps, Dillard’s team-mate Peter Morin was able to overtake race one winner Rusty Wyatt to snatch third and the final place on the podium when Wyatt suffered communication issues with his radioman at the crucial restart.

Wyatt recovered well and finished fourth for the Sharjah Team to hold joint second with Andersson in the points’ standings.

Stromoy Racing’s Bartek Marszalek and Marit Stromoy finished fifth and eighth, sandwiching Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al Qamzi and the Red Devil-SMC F1 Team’s double World Champion Sami Selio. The Emirati and the Finn finished sixth and seventh.

Stark’s Emirati team-mate Ahmad Al Fahim claimed his first points of the season with ninth and Dutchman Ferdinand Zandbergen rounded off the top 10. Maverick Racing’s Cedric Deguisne, Al Qamzi’s team-mate Rashed Al Qemzi and Ben Jelf of the F1 Atlantic Team completed the race out of the points in 11th, 12th and 13th.

Stark lined up on the pontoon ahead of Andersson, Arand, Wyatt and Morin for the start of the 35-lap encounter on Thi Nai Bay. After his accident in the morning’s warm-up session, Maverick Racing’s Alexandre Bourgeot and his team faced a race against time to repair the boat because he had already replaced his Moore for the spare DAC on Saturday. The team confirmed less than two hours before the race that the Frenchman would not start.

Engine changes forced Dillard and Jelf to line-up in 15th and 16th and Rashed Al Qemzi started at the rear of the pontoon after replacing Alberto Comparato following qualifying.

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In baking heat, high humidity and a slight breeze coming off the shore, the start would be crucial and Stark managed to hold off Andersson as Wyatt found a way to pass Arand after the Estonian made a poor start.

The two Swedes maintained the initiative but were not able to shake off a determined Wyatt.

The leading trio began to pull away from Arand, who was under pressure from Morin from the outset. Selio, Marszalek, Thani Al Qamzi, Marit Stromoy and Ahmad Al Fahim rounded off the early top 10.

Andersson had no answer to Stark and the Victory Team driver took advantage of his canny propeller choice and began to edge away: his lead was 3.547 seconds into lap six, as the top 10 held station and Roms and Dillard held 11th and 12th.

Stefan Arand’s dream of impressing the local crowd ended on lap seven when the second of the Team Vietnam boats ground to a halt but the Estonian had pulled off the course and the action continued interrupted with Stark leading Andersson by 2.977 seconds into lap 10.

The F1 Atlantic Team’s Duarte Benavente joined Arand on the list of retirements after nine laps. His team-mate Jelf was running at the rear of the field in 15th behind Al-Qemzi.

There were no changes on the leader board through 15 laps with Stark maintaining a 3.583sec cushion Andersson with Wyatt and Morin unable to close the gap on the leading Swedes.

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