SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates – (December 11, 2008) – Finnish driver Sami Selio steered his Italian designed BABA Woodstock Red Devil sponsored boat to pole position for the second straight year and will lead a field of 21 drivers from 12 different countries at the Ninth Annual Grand Prix of Sharjah, the 8th and final round of the 2008 U.I.M. F1 World Championship for power boating in the Khalid Lagoon tomorrow afternoon at 15:45 local time.
The 33 year-old driver from Helsinki came to the paddock late in the morning after catching a virus that had effected his family and forced him to miss the morning drivers meeting showing up late for practice. As the day went along the Finish driver went faster and faster and came home with the days fastest lap with a 49.06 second time around the 2.235 kilometer eight pin circuit.
“I have felt weak all day and was lucky to concentrate for the fast lap but forced myself to do so and now am excited about our chances of winning for a 2nd straight year,” said Sami. “Now I will take a big rest and hopefully get back to 100% tomorrow as we chase our second straight win here and finish 2nd in the championship as well.”
Chasing him in almost a “fox and hounds” type of senario are the two Team Abu Dhabi drivers of Thani Al Qamzi and his teammate Ahmad Al Hameli with Thani doing a 49.54 second lap followed by Ahmad and a 49.78 time. As Selio has struggled to get from the start to the first pin in the last few events both Abu Dhabi drivers feel they have a great chance to overtake the driver from Finland at the start. Thani won his first ever event here in 2006, while Ahmad will be hoping to do the same this season. Al Hameli, second in the championship with 55 points and one point ahead of Selio in the race for runner-up, knows it will be important to get to the front early.
Italian Guido Cappellini of the Tamoil Team will start fourth with a 49.86 second lap looking to win here in Sharjah for the third time and the first since 2005.
Another driver in the chase for second in the championship is Swedish driver Jonas Andersson who is currently fourth with 50 points, but with 20 points being awarded to the winner and 15 points for second, he has a great chance to move up with a great result tomorrow afternoon. Jonas has won two of the three races he’s finished this season.
In the sixth position will be newly crowned World Champion Jay Price of the Qatar Team who concentrated on race set-up and managed a 50.48 second lap and will do what he hopes continues to be his best play possible, moving towards the front of the field and on the podium at the halfway part of the race. Jay has continued a streak of podiums that go back to Sharjah a year ago when he finished second to Selio in the event and now has built the streak to eight straight including three wins this season. One of the three wins came when he started 6th in Liuzhou, China back in October.
Australian driver David Trask was seventh quickest with a 51.44 second lap just missing the six boat shootout for pole position at the end of the day. His 41 points puts him as a dark horse for the runner-up spot in the championship. French driver Philippe Chiappe of the Atlantic Team will be eighth with a 51.54 second lap. Ninth will be Russian driver Stanislav Kourtsenovsky looking for his ever podium of his career in the second Tamoil boat with a 51.61 second lap. Rounding out the top-10 will be Italian Francesco Cantando of the Singha Team who the first running of the race in 2000 hoping to do it again.
Twenty one drivers will take the start of the 9th Annual Grand Prix of Sharjah beginning at 15:45 local time 11:45 GMT and 6:45 Eastern Standard Time on the East Coast of North America. The race can be followed by going to the www.f1boat.com website and watching via webstreaming the live international broadcast. The webstreaming will begin sharply at 15:30 with the pre-race show of the event.