Although it wasn’t how he envisioned it, Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente, a Florida native and accomplished offshore racer, earned his third Union Internationale Motonautique F1H2O World Championship drivers’ title following Sunday’s rather dramatic Grand Prix of the Middle East in Sharjah, UAE.
Despite ending the 2022 season with a crash early on in the F1H2O World Championship finale in Sharjah, UAE, Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente (below) claimed his third F1H2O drivers’ world title on Sunday. Photos courtesy Simon Palfrader/F1H2O
Just eight laps into the season finale on Khalid Lagoon, Torrente thought his championship hopes had been destroyed when a brush with Poland’s Bartek Marszalek sent him sideways into an unavoidable collision with his teammate Thani Al Qemzi, knocking both Team Abu Dhabi boats out of the race. Yet despite destroying the DAC hull and having to nervously watch from shore, Torrente claimed another world title to add to his championships in 2018 and 2019, after Team Sweden’s Jonas Andersson, who had grabbed the lead following a flying start appeared to be on his way to back-to-back race victories to defend his world title, was forced out of the race with technical issues on the 28th lap.
Torrente was emotional after getting in the accident and having to place his hopes on whether Andersson would finish the race lower than seventh place.
“The reason I am very emotional is that we had a crash today,” Torrente said in an F1H2O release. “Bartek didn’t do it on purpose. It was a mistake. I crashed and Thani got caught in the crash. Honestly, I was five feet from being in the hospital. Five feet away from not standing here talking to you, not world champion, nothing. And now it’s OK and I am the world champion!”
Andersson’s departure paved the way for three-time world champion Philippe Chiappe of France to secure the victory in the last race of his illustrious career. Chiappe reached the checkered flag 2.73 seconds clear of Marszalek, with young Italian Alberto Comparato securing the last place on the podium. After announcing his retirement from top-flight competition before the race weekend, the success marked Chiappe’s 10th career Grand Prix victory in his 23-year career and his first since Abu Dhabi in 2017.
France’s Philippe Chiappe, a three-time F1H2O world champion, won the final race of his impressive 23-year in Sharjah.
“This was a special day and a special emotion with me with the last race and the victory,” Chiappe said in a press release from F1H2O. “It’s a dream. This is a high level on my story. It is a fantastic feeling to finish the season with this victory. I started in Sharjah 23 years ago, my first race, and my last race was in Sharjah and I win the race. It is a perfect day and I am very happy for the team. It is the end of the story for my career but it’s a good day!”
Only eight of the 18 drivers finished the thrilling race: Gillman Racing’s Alec Weckström clinched the prestigious “Rookie of the Year” award after finishing fourth, Finland’s Kalle Viippo was fifth, Maverick Racing’s Cédric Deguisne and Alexandre Bourgeot were classified in sixth and eighth and rookie Ben Jelf of the F1 Atlantic Team claimed his first ever world championship points for finishing seventh.
Check out the slideshow above for more images of Torrente, who is a multi-disciplinary boat racer.
Torrente’s championship conclusion was built on his victories in the opening two rounds of the season in France and Italy, backed up by successive podium finishes. For his teammate Al Qemzi, who finished third in the championship behind Andersson, the wait for a first world drivers’ triumph goes on, although there can be no doubt about his hunger for success, as illustrated by his Grand Prix win in Sardinia two months ago.
Team Abu Dhabi’s dynamic duo had already delivered a fifth consecutive team title to the UAE capital before Sunday’s action got under way.
Andersson Wins In Sharjah To Set Up Three-Way F1H2O Title Showdown On Sunday
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Sharjah Team Rookie Zandbergen Wins F1H2O Grand Prix Of Italy
Team Abu Dhabi’s Torrente Wins First F1H2O Grand Prix In Italy
Team Abu Dhabi’s Torrente Wins F1H2O Season Opener In France
Andersson Saves Best For Last To Claim First F1H2O Championship
Torrente Excited To Close Out Extremely Busy Month Of Racing
Torrente Defends F1 H2O World Title In Dramatic Style As Andersson Wins In Sharjah