Al Hameli Ahmad of UAE of the Abu Dhabi F1 race team pictured at the UIM F1 Powerboat Grand prix of Portugal, Portimao, Portugal, the 2nd leg of the championship series. Picture by Paul Lakatos/Idea Marketing.
In one of the most exciting lap to lap duals in the past decade American Jay Price of the Qatar Team scored a very popular and well earned first ever victory on the U.I.M. F1 World Championship for power boating in front of thousands of race fans on the Arade River at the 10th Annual Grand Prix of Portugal.
The 49-year old driver from New Orleans, Louisiana came on strong starting fourth of the dock and charged into second place after the first few laps and chased down pole-sitter Ahmad Al Hameli of the Abu Dhabi Team as the young driver held the point for three quarters of the 55 lap event until Price worked his way past at the chicane and went on to cruise to a 16 second win.
'I knew from this morning that my set-up was going to work in these calmer conditions and it was just a matter of time until I pressured Ahmad finally getting around him and from there it was just keeping the boat on the right line to the finish,' stated Jay. 'Now we know we have a winning package and will work harder to keep the championship lead with this great Qatar group around me. This event sure beats me being home fighting off spring storms back home in Louisiana. I can't wait for the next two rounds in Finland and Russia next month.'
For Al Hameli, a bitter sweet day knowing he was in position to win most of the afternoon only to finish runner-up at the end. 'I was holding my own and Scott (Gillman) was talking to me on the radio as my spotter and it was working quite well in holding off Jay until I felt a vibration and I realized my propeller was missing part of a blade and from that point on I couldn't hold the pace,' said Ahmad. 'I'm happy cause this is by far my best result and I feel good about picking up 15 points and was happy with the boat.'
While the battle at the front was the major story of the day, a three-way fight for third was just as compelling. Defending World Champion Sami Selio came up from seventh qualifying position and held off fast improving French driver Philippe Chiappe of the Atlantic Team late in the race. Australian David Trask had held that spot earlier in the event and was close enough to rub paint with Jay Price in their battle for second until his engine expired on the 24th lap.
Both Selio and Chiappe were later docked penalties for taking out buoy's in the event and moving Italian Francesco Cantando up into the final podium position in third after starting 11th. The native of Milan was in the top-three for the first time since the final race of 2005 in Sharjah.
Local driver Duarte Benavente had another fine outing at his home Grand Prix in fourth place in his Interpass sponsored Dragon hull. Italian Fabio Comparato was fifth in the 800 Doctor Team Baba boat while French driver Philippe Dessertenne came home 6th after starting down in 15th position for another great run from the back.
Sami Selio of Finland of the Woodstck Red Devil F1 team in action during the UIM F1 Powerboat Grand Prix of Portugal, Portimao, Portugal, the 2nd leg of the championship series. Picture by Paul Lakatos/Idea Marketing.
Swedish returnee Pierre Lundin was seventh in his first race of the season as teammate to Dessertenne in the CTIC China Team. He was replacing driver Peng Lin Wu and put together another solid effort from the driver who was fourth in the championship last year.
Selio took eighth after his penalties while Bob Trask picked up a pair of point with his ninth place finish while Chiappe was 10th after destroying a pair of buoys.
Of the eight retirees in the event nine-time World Champion Guido Cappellini of the Tamoil Team had a tough afternoon finally dropping out on the 28th lap and failing to pick up points in this race for the first time in career.
Points leader coming into the race, Jonas Andersson of Sweden ended his day in a hurry retiring on the first lap along with another possible race winner in Thani Al Qamzi of the Abu Dhabi Team who was chasing his teammate into the first corner on the first lap only to stop suddenly on the course ending his dreams of victory.
When day ended Jay Price had won his first career F1 race and for the second time in two races a new winner to the tour was crowned. Jay's win marks the 10th different driver from the USA to win on the U.I.M. F1 World Championship for power boating since it's beginnings in 1981. The next race on the calendar is scheduled for the first weekend of June in Lahti, Finland and the fourth Grand Prix of Finland. Jay Price leads the championship with 35 points with Jonas Andersson 2nd with 20.
Stan Kourtsenovsky of Russia of the Tamoil F1 powerboat team pictured in action at the UIM F1 Powerboat Grand Prix of Portugal, Portimao, Portugal, the 2nd leg of the championship series. Picture by Paul Lakatos/Idea Marketing.
Franceso Cantando of Italy in the Singha Team powerboat pictured in the UIM F1 Powerboat Grand Prix of Portugal, Portimao, Portugal, the 2nd leg of the championship series. Picture by Paul Lakatos/Idea Marketing.
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