Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente grabbed pole position for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of France in dramatic fashion, winning today’s qualifying shoot out with a scintillating last lap to edge out F1H2O World Championship leader, Jonas Andersson.
Shaun Torrente, Team Abu Dhabi
Three-time world champion Torrente gave himself the perfect finish to a day of spectacular action, snatching the advantage away from the Swede for tomorrow’s third round of the season, as he looks to repeat last year’s victory in Macon.
Arch rival Andersson, the 2021 world champion, looked to have given himself the edge when he took the best time away from the American after changing a propeller.
But in the dying seconds, reigning world champion Torrente again showed the grit and determination which has taken him to the top, by powering Abu Dhabi 1 to the day’s best time.
He said before arriving in France that he hopes to be leading the championship by the time he leaves the country, and he will be even more determined tomorrow when he starts the race just six points adrift of Andersson.
“To sum it up, I feel like it’s my third pole position in a row, and the first one I get to actually keep,” said Torrente, who lost out in Indonesia and China. “I’m just thrilled that we could do our normal thing, come a week early, and test.“
“I finally found a lap at the end and we made it happen, so we’re really happy. Pole position is amazing. Tomorrow we start at No.1, and we’ll see what we can do.”
Sharjah Team’s Ferdinand Zandbergen qualified in third place ahead of Italian Alberto Comparato, Frenchman Peter Morin and American Brent Dillard in the six-boat qualifying shoot out.
Torrente won from team-mate Thani Al Qemzi in Macon last year on his way to the F1H2O drivers title, and a fifth team crown in a row for Team Abu Dhabi, and he made his intentions clear from the start today.
With H2O Racing returning to the two-group free practice and qualifying system, Torrente comfortably set the fastest lap time from Morin in the opening group practice session.
China CTIC Team’s Dillard topped Group B ahead of Andersson, Al Qemzi and Victory Team’s Erik Stark in heavy rain on the Saone River.
There was drama in the first group qualifying session when Victory Team’s Ahmad Al Fahim brought out a yellow flag when his boat launched into a spectacular 360-degree flip, as wind following earlier rain made conditions difficult.
Morin went on to set the fastest time to go through with Torrente, and Comparato, who in the dying seconds snatched the third shootout place, shutting out Sharjah Team’s two-time world champion, Sami Selio.
The second group qualifier also saw a yellow flag as Australian Brock Cohen was halted by mechanical problems, before Andersson clocked the best time to qualify ahead of Dillard and Zandbergen.Team Abu Dhabi veteran Al Qemzi was sixth fastest to miss the shoot out.