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UIM RACE: Erik Stark wins a pulsating uim f1h2o grand prix of london

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Erik Stark delivered the ultimate performance to take a sensational victory at the Grand Prix of London round 2 of the UIM F1H2O World Championship
Erik Stark delivered the ultimate performance to take a sensational victory at the Grand Prix of London round 2 of the UIM F1H2O World Championship

Sweden’s Erik Stark delivered the ultimate performance to take a second career win with a sensational victory at the Grand Prix of London, round 2 of the UIM F1H2O World Championship. It was a pulsating race from startto-finish with Maverick F1 Racing’s Stark surviving two prolonged yellow flag periods and restarts, the first when championship leader Shaun Torrente speared and destroyed a turn buoy forcing him to retire on lap 11, the second when the defending world champion Alex Carella barrel rolled out of the race on lap 36 of 54. Philippe Chiappe and Peter Morin made it a double celebration for the CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team finishing second and third after enjoying a race long interteam battle.

An unfamiliar rolling start instead of the usual dead-engine start of the dock was the preferred option of race officials with Stark leading the 16 boats around the 1.72km three-pin circuit under a yellow caution flag for a couple of laps before the green flag was given to release them to race. Stark held the advantage of starting from P1 and led from Chiappe, Morin immediately up to third from Carella and Francesco Cantando with Torrente passing Erik Edin to move in to sixth spot on lap 9 when he tangled with the buoy bringing out the first yellow.

The boats were held for six laps under yellow when the green was given, the front three holding station, Cantando passing Carella and up into fourth, Jonas Andersson also getting the jump on Carella a lap later. The front six boats held point until lap 28 when Andersson dropped out, Cantando’s impressive drive and best outing in his relatively new Blaze coming to a disappointing end on lap 30. Stark remained in control at the front despite the pressure from the CTIC duo when the second yellow was shown, signalling Carella’s dramatic exit.

For a second time Stark held firm at the restart and was able to control the race with an uninterrupted run to the chequered flag to win by 3.34s from Chiappe with Morin following his team leader home. “It is always difficult to win but I felt that I had control of the race. But you never know. So many things can happen with the boat, the engine,” said Stark. “But I had good speed throughout and just hoped it would be enough and it was. I was able to manage the restarts pretty well and always felt I was in control.”

A second podium of the season for three-time champion Chiappe moves the Frenchman into the lead in the title race. “I had a very nice set-up and the boat was fast and very good today,” he said. “I pushed at the beginning but then I saw Torrente stop so I prefer to manage my race in terms of the championship. I had Peter behind me but close for a lot of the race but we manage that situation well and to both be in on the podium is very nice for the team.” Third place for Morin continues his season story of best performances with his first world championship podium in only his second full season on the UIM F1H2O tour.

“It is an unbelievable moment and feeling for me,” said Morin. “The whole weekend has been very good for the team. I made a good start and really felt confident in the boat.” Thani Al Qemzi made up for his Abu Dhabi teammates’ early exit producing another strong showing and moving up from 12th place to finish in fourth. After a nightmare opening race and struggling at times this weekend with engine issues, Mad Croc BABA Racing’s Sami Selio turned things around to bank his first points of the year finishing in fifth ahead of a great drive by F1 Atlantic’s Grand Trask another driver to scythe his way through the field and moving up from 13th, his teammate Duarte Benavente nursing his boat home in tenth.

Despite a frustrating BRM Qualifying session and starting from 14th Marit Stromoy also put her first set of points on the board driving up through the field to finish in seventh ahead of Ahmed Al Hameli, with the race winners’ teammate Cedric Deguisne in ninth. The 54 lap race run on London’s Royal Victoria Dock for the first time in 33 years took its toll with six of the 17 starters failing to go the distance and retiring. Round 3 of the UIM F1H2O World Championship, the Grand Prix of France takes place in Evian on 29 June-1 July.