At the Grand Prix of Italy, Kuwait’s Youssef Al Abdulrazzaq produced a sensational performance and the drive of the day to win heat 1 in Runabout GP1 on Lake Viverone. Nacho Armillas took the chequered flag in a thrilling and nail-biting heat in Ski GP1, with Slovenian Freestyle star Rok Florjancic once again producing another breath taking performance to seal top spot.
UIM-ABP Aquabike Class Pro World Championship - Runabout Division GP1 at the Grand Prix of Italy
After a strong qualifying session yesterday and starting heat 1 from third, the Middle East rider from Kuwait City tore past pole-sitter Cyrille Lemoine and Jeremy Perez at the start to lead by five seconds at the end of lap 1.
From that point on neither Lemoine nor Perez had any answer to the blistering pace of Abdulrazzaq who, lap-by-lap, extended his lead over the chasing two, and set about making a long list of A-list riders look rather average.
Remarkably, the Kuwaiti, who had complained of breathing difficulties the night before after suffering some form of allergic reaction, cruised home to complete the 15-laps and take the chequered flag 21.39 seconds clear of his nearest rival to take his first heat win on the UIM-ABP tour.
With the leader off and disappearing into the distance Lemoine’s problem was now countryman Jeremy Perez, the two French riders enjoying a race-long duel with Lemoine hanging on to take second spot by less than two seconds.
A change of bikes this season by the defending World Champion is not as yet delivering the results Francois Medori is looking for, and despite picking up solid points in fourth place, will wince at the thought of finishing a lap down to the race winner.
Sweden’s Johan Johansson trailed Christophe Overney for half race distance, until the Frenchman started to go backwards, to finish in a respectable fifth, with the battling Italian Lorenzo Benaglia moving up and through the field from 12th to complete the top six.
A dramatic opening lap in Ski GP1 saw pole-sitter Michael Poret being towed in almost immediately, opening the door for what proved to be a race-long and titanic fight between Spain’s Nacho Armillas, Italy’s Alberto Monti and the 2013 UIM-ABP Class Pro European Champion, Portugal’s Tiago Sousa.
Led by Armillas from the flag, the trio raced line astern for all nine laps and were never separated by more than six seconds, with the Spanish rider hanging on to take his second consecutive heat win, his last in Liuzhou China  to take his first Grand Prix win, and win by 3.49seconds from Monti with Sousa third.
Sweden’s Pontus Andersson enjoyed a solitary run in fourth place, with Hungary’s Lukas Binar moving up from ninth place on lap 1 to take fifth ahead of Italian Ugo Guidi.
Pija Sumer looked all set for one of her best overall finishes, running in seventh place, when on the final turn the Slovenian rider stopped, and had to watch France’s Jennifer Menard swoop past to take eighth overall and be first lady home to take maximum points.
In any other Freestyle competition Nac Florjancic’s performance would have sealed first spot, but despite improving on yesterday’s score by seven points to post a total of 77.5, he then had to watch older brother Rok do the same, this time rounding off a simply stunning performance with nine consecutive barrel-roles – one better than yesterday.
Italy’s Valerio Calderoni went one better than in yesterday’s qualifying round to finish third ahead of Russian duo, Alexander Kuramshin and Arseniy Matantsev, with Ukraine’s Ruslan Mykhailov running out the top six.