ST. PETERSBURG, Russia – Saturday, August 8, 2009 –Qatar Team driver Jay Price completed the “hat trick” today by setting pole position, setting the fastest race lap and winning his second race in a row to take the points lead in the drivers championship in front of tens of thousands of race fans at the Fifth race of the U.I.M. F1 H2O World Championship for power boating at the Eighth Grand Prix of Russia.
The six-pin 2.01 kilometer circuit on the Neva River in downtown St. Petersburg proved once again to be a challenging circuit for drivers and equipment and while others benefited from others misfortune the American driver from New Orleans won his second straight F1 event for the first time in his career by a dominating 17.46 seconds to move himself into first position with 55 points as he looks for tomorrow’s event to see if he can win for the sixth time in his career and finish either first or second for his 9th time in his last 10 starts.
“It was a great day for us today,” said Jay. “The boat was perfect and my crew had put together the perfect package to get the job done on this difficult circuit. Brendan (Power) was spot on with his engine selection and the boat I had used earlier in the year suited me perfectly for today’s rough conditions. I only hope we can do the same tomorrow.”
While the veteran was powering his way around the 32 laps drivers challenging from behind were struggling including multi-time World Champion Guido Cappellini of the Zepter Team who blew out his gear case in a big way with less than two minutes to go in the race while in second place and looking for more points in the championship despite being 13 seconds behind Price.
Also missing an opportunity to pick up points was Team Abu Dhabi driver Thani Al Qamzi who came into the event leading the championship with 53 points but only got as far as 26 laps and dropped out with less than five minutes to the end now sliding down to second in the championship just two points behind Jay.
Taking advantage of the mishaps of drivers up front was Ahmad Al Hameli of Team Abu Dhabi who qualified fourth and came home heroically in a fine second place despite terrible neck pains that for many drivers may have kept him out of the event. However, the driver from Abu Dhabi fought off the discomfort and picked up 15 more points reaching the podium for the sixth time in his career and now sits third in the championship with 40 points.
“I kept my mind focused on racing and not my discomfort as the boat ran well and we stayed out of trouble and pushed Guido hard for second place before he dropped out late in the race,” said Ahmad. “We need to keep finishing on the podium and then we’ll have a shot for the title since we still have a long way to go in the championship before December.”
Reaching the podium for his first time in his 50th start was French driver Philippe Chiappe of the F1 Atlantic Team driving the French Moore hull that seemed suited for the rough conditions on the Neva River.
“We had a great package today and I knew it right away when we qualified the best in my career in fifth place this afternoon,” said Philippe. “Now that I’ve finally reached the podium I hope I can do it quicker than 50 races the next time. Maybe tomorrow.”
Italian Fabio Comparato had a fine performance for the second straight year just missing the podium in fourth place after qualifying 10th in his 800 Doctor BABA boat. Fifth was Swedish driver Pierre Lundinin the China CTIC Team coming from eighth starting position taking his second top-five of the season.
Italian Valerio Lagiannella in his 16th start finished a career best sixth in the second 800 Doctor boat.Marit Stromoy of Norway took her boat to a fine seventh position charging up from 16th in her Team Azerbaijan
boat, while another Italian, rookie driver Daniele Martignoni came home also his best position in eighth in only his sixth start for the Mad Croc F1 Team Woodstock effort.
Another rookie Fabian Kalsow of Germany took the second China CTIC Team boat to a top ten finish with his seventh top-10 effort in ninth position. Italian Marco Gambi of the Singha F1 Racing Teamcame home with the final point in tenth position for the second time this season.
Sami Selio of Finland was sitting in fourth position on the 20th laps when he threw a blade on his propeller ending his day in his Mad Croc F1 Team Woodstock effort failing to finish for the third time in six races.
While the Qatar Team were enjoying their number one driver’s success they also were hoping for the quick recovery of their second driver Andy Elliott who crashed heavily in this mornings practice and was in hospital recovering from injuries sustained in his massive flip down on the north end of the circuit as he was preparing for his 137th career F1 start for the two time former winner.
Tomorrow will mark the second Grand Prix event of the weekend and the sixth race from the Neva River in twenty-four hours as the 2009 U.I.M. F1 H2O World Championship finishes it’s European campaign. The big question is, can anybody stop “Spiderman” Jay Price and his Qatar Team as he goes for his third victory in a row and his 10th first or second in his last 11 starts?
The sixth race of the season and the second at the Grand Prix of Russia begins 18:00 local, 15:00 GMT and 10:00 EDT on the East Coast of North America. The race will be broadcast on world wide television as well as being available around the world on the official www.f1h2o.com website starting at 14:30 GMT.