Shaun Torrente wins 'Showdown in Sharjah' to take F1H2O title
Team Abu Dhabi take top three slots at Grand Prix of Sharjah at Khalid Lagoon
The finale of the F1H2O powerboating series, dubbed the "Showdown in Sharjah" by fans, was a tense affair after last week's shock result in Abu Dhabi, but Shaun Torrente ultimately did enough to take first place in the drivers' championship.
The American fought his way up from seventh position after the qualifying sessions to finish third, which garnered him sufficient points to leave the day's winner and fellow Team Abu Dhabi cohort, Erik Stark, unable to catch him.
Amid a carnival atmosphere on Sharjah's Khalid Lagoon, Torrente's victory on Saturday came at the end of three days of variable quality practice and qualifying, which left commentators and fans alike unwilling to speculate on what was likely to happen.
Matters weren't improved when the race got off to a tetchy start, with the catamarans reverting to their starting order after less than a lap as one of the craft suffered an almost immediate engine failure.
Torrente, who knew he was safe in fourth but charged ahead regardless, breathlessly revealed how much the race had taken out of him.
"What a race," he said, "I couldn't take another day like that."
Stark did everything he could to ensure he had the best chance of taking the title, but ultimately the result was always dependent on how well his teammate did.
“I didn’t hope for too much before," Stark said. "Shaun is a very good driver. I did my race and I could not do any more. I had some bad luck in Abu Dhabi. That was it.”
Stark led from the start, opening up a near five-second lead by the middle of the race, and never looked like relinquishing it.
Jonas Andersson of Team Amaravati pressed the leader as hard as he could, but could only manage second.
Local fans were holding out hope for Emirati driver Thani Al Qemzi after his victory at the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi last week - the first Emirati to do so - but an early exit Saturday saw him have to settle for third in the overall standings.
It was also a disappointing day for Emirates Racing's Marit Stromoy and Bartek Marszalek, who both retired before the 44-lap race was a quarter of the way through.
The Team Abu Dhabi crew whooped and hollered after the race in celebration that the three top slots were all taken by their drivers, leaving the team championship theirs by a significant margin.
Torrente’s third place gave the squad a second successive and fifth world drivers’ championship.
Earlier in the day, Alexander Lindholm won the F4-S event, which runs in conjunction with F1H2O, also clinching the Teams Championship for Team Amaravati.
Saturday's event was the culmination of Sharjah World Championship Week, a series of watersport events on Khalid Lagoon.
Updated: December 15, 2018 10:18 PM