LIUZHOU, China – Tuesday, October 6, 2009 – The 2007 World Champion Sami Selio of Finland drove his Baba boat to a 3.41 second victory to move into fifth place in the U.I.M. F1 H2O World Championship standings at the 10th Grand Prix of China in front of tens of thousands of fans along the Liu River in downtown Liuzhou.
The lead driver of the Mad Croc F1 Team Woodstock organization had to side step a wild battle for the lead on the opening lap between he and rival Jay Price of the Qatar Team as the top two qualifiers rubbed paint going into the second corner both going wild and leaving the door open for third place qualifier Ahmad Al Hameli to steal away first place for the first ten minutes of the 30 minute Grand Prix.
The Team Abu Dhabi driver was looking solid and setting the fast lap of the race doing a 45.37 second lap around the 1.63 kilometer (1 mile) six pin course before bad luck struck him on the 11th lap as his starter motor stuck and he had his engine fail him dropping out of an event for the third time this season. His teammate Thani Al Qamzi failed to go the distance retiring on the 16th tour with a sick engine forcing Team Abu Dhabi with no points for either driver for only the second time this season.
Meanwhile, Selio regained the number one spot that he would never relinquish for the final laps capturing his first win of the season and the fifth of his career moving him up into fourth place with 54 points just 11 points behind leader Al Qamzi.
“It was both a rough but satisfying day for us today,” said Selio. “It was a big win and we feel confident we can do a double tomorrow if we can qualify as strongly as we did this morning.”
The American Jay Price came out the worst of the collision on the first lap and dropped down to eighth before fighting up to third place on the 21st lap but crashed out heavily down on turn five losing a chance to move into the drivers championship lead and failing to finish for the second time this season while dropping down to third with 55 points.
“It all went wrong from the start but once we got going we were on our way to a podium finish until I over cooked it down in the 135 degree corner,” said the driver from New Orleans. “Tomorrow we will try again and as defending winner here from last year, I would love to win for a second year in a row if possible.”
Italian Francesco Cantando of the Singha F1 Team had a strong showing finishing 2nd and forcing Selio to push to the maximum on the final restart before coming up just over three seconds short of winning for the first time in 30 races.
“We did our best to catch Sami at the end but I am really pleased with our total package today, qualifying fifth and finishing second, we’ll carry the confidence over to tomorrow for sure,” said Francesco.
Team China driver Pierre Lundin of Sweden got back to the podium with a great run moving up from his ninth qualifying position to finish third and reach the top three for the first time in two years. He was feeling a lot of pressure from the giant crowds that were cheering Team China all day long and was the most popular driver when the day was over with hundreds of fans coming over congratulating his performance.
French pilot Philippe Chiappe put together one of his best runs of his career coming from seventeenth position to fourth at days end in his Moore hull. The F1 Atlantic driver was forced to change engines and start at the end of the start dock but made great progress and come away with his third top five of the season.
Jonas Andersson of Team Azerbaijan came home a solid fifth and has now moved into second place in the drivers championship with 59 while Italian Fabio Comparato was sixth in the 800 Doctor Baba hull and now sixth in the championship with 42 points.
Italian nine-time World Champion Guido Cappellini was forced to give up his fourth best qualifying time and go to the back of the start dock after changing engines for the race. His 16th place position at the start saw him move up to seventh at day’s end to gain four more points as he is eighth in the title run with 34.
Duarte Benavente was ninth after starting 11th and Italian Valerio Lagiannella rounded out the top ten taking the final point of the afternoon.
The eighth race of the 2009 U.I.M. F1 H2O World Championship takes place tomorrow afternoon at 1500 local and 0700 GMT as the event will wrap up the first half of the season. Five drivers are within 18 points of each other and the season is shaping to be a wild shootout to determine a new World Champion for 2009.