UIM ABP Aquabike World Championship is being held at this week’s F1 H20 Grand Prix of China in Liuzhou during 4th and 5th October 2011.
Fifty-two riders from eight countries will line up on the River Liu as the fight to decide Championship titles goes down to the wire,with French riders looking to complete a clean sweep and lift all four crowns.
With a maximum of 50 points on offer for the remaining two heats, the battle for honours in Runabout is between France’s Francois Medori and Italian Mattia Fracasso, with the title already beyond the reach of defending Champion Cyrille Lemoine.
Both Medori and Fracasso started the year slowly and were simply out-gunned in Qatar by Franky Zapata who took both heat wins. But the Frenchman’s hopes of the title imploded and then evaporated at the next two Grand Prix where he failed to finish four times.
Medori and Fracasso traded heat wins at the Italian Grand Prix in Arbatax but Medori’s push for the title came at the French Grand Prix on his home waters of Ghisonaccia in Corsica, producing an imperious performance, winning twice to open up a 21-point advantage.
In Ski Division F1, Championship leader Jeremy Poret is odds-on favourite to lift the crown, with his closest rival Jean-Baptiste Botti missing from the event, although mathematically, he can still be overhauled by Christopher Courtois.
But Poret’s hopes of regaining his Ski F1 World title looked to be in doubt after he damaged cruciate knee ligaments during a crash at the French Championship in Avignon in August, and was only recently given the green light by his doctor and cleared to race. He must now hope that his damaged ligaments hold out for the final two heats of the year, before returning to France to have surgery.
The Frenchman heads a trio of his countrymen and has led the standings since the season-opener in Doha, Qatar and holds a comfortable 31-points advantage over the now absent Botti, with Courtois in third place and the defending World Champion Mickael Poret in fourth.
The Team Spirit rider has proven the stronger and more consistent of the French quartet, and whilst he and Botti have taken three wins apiece in Qatar, Sardinia and Corsica, Poret has also finished second three times to win each Grand Prix.
In Ski Ladies F1 it is France’s defending World Champion Julie Bulteau who holds the aces, but she still faces a double threat to her title from Italy’s Stefania Balzer and Slovenia’s Pija Sumer, should she slip up.
The three have been a class apart this season with Bulteau taking both heat wins and overall honours in Qatar and Corsica, her only glitch coming in Sardinia, both Balzer and Sumer grabbing a win each and Balzer taking a first Grand Prix title and a temporary lead in the title race.
But it is Bulteau who sits comfortably at the top of the standings with a 16-point cushion over Balzer, with Sumer a further four points off the lead in third place.
The freestyle category is a straight fight between two of the sport’s great showmen, Italy’s Valerio Calderoni and France’s Romain Stampers, who have dominated this season. The two have been trading blows on the water all season long, with Calderoni leading by just ten points going into the decider, despite Stampers’ four wins in Arbatax and Ghisonaccia to Calderoni’s two wins in Doha. Should the title elude Stamper’s he will rue the no points finish in heat 1 in the season-opener in Qatar! But both will have to contend with the talented Slovenian duo, brothers Rok and Nac Florjancic.
In today’s official qualifying session for tomorrow’s penultimate heat of the season it was the leading protagonists in Ski Division F1 and Ski LadiesF1 who dominated; Julie Bulteau was never challenged throughout the session, going almost five seconds quicker than her rivals, posting her best lap, 1min 39.06secs, to take the pole. Behind her, Stefania Balzer and Pija Sumer continued their season-long fight with Balzer coming out on top by less than three tenths of a second.
Any doubts about Jeremy Poret’s fitness were soon dispelled, stealing the pole from Christopher Courtois by less than a tenth of a second in 1min 36.17secs, with the younger of the Poret brothers, Morgan, third quickest.
In Runabout, Franky Zapata is clearly out to prove a point and looking to end the season on a high, taking the pole in a time of 1min 41.19secs, ahead of Championship leader Francois Medori, who has stated that the title is his priority over the race wins and he would not be taking any risks, with outgoing Champion Cyrille Lemoine third fastest. Timetable:
Tuesday, 4 October
10.00/11.35 Warm Up.. all categories
14.00/14.30 Ski Ladies F1, heat 1
14.35/15.05 Ski Division F1, heat 1
15.10/15.40 Freestyle, heat 1
15.45/16.15 Runabout F1, heat 1
Wednesday, 5 October
11.00/13.00 Warm Up.. all categories
14.00/14.30 Runabout F1, heat 2
14.35/15.05 Ski Ladies F1, heat 2
15.10/15.40 Freestyle, heat 2
15.45/16.15 Ski Division F1, heat 2 UIM-ABP Aquabike World Championship Results
Runabout F1 - after round 3
1. 4 Francois Medori (fra) 124 pts
2. 8 Mattia Fracasso (ita) 103 pts
3. 9 Cyrille Lemoine (fra) 73 pts
4= 44 Lorenzo Benaglia (ita) 50 pts
4= 1 Franky Zapata (fra) 50 pts
6= 18 Yann Barros (fra) 42 pts
6= 86 Jeremy Perez (fra) 42 pts
Ski Division F1 - after round 3
1. 72 Jeremy Poret (fra) 135 pts
2. 85 Jean-Baptiste Botti (fra) 104 pts
3. 95 Christopher Courtois (fra) 88 pts
4. 77 Mickael Poret (fra) 67 pts
5. 36 Nachete Armillas (esp) 65 pts
6. 222 Emanuele Balzer (ita) 62 pts
Ski Women F1 - after round 3
1. 33 Julie Bulteau (fra) 133 pts
2. 81 Stefania Balzer (ita) 117 pts
3. 25 Pija Sumer (svn) 113 pts
4. 4 Marta Sorrentino (ita) 65 pts
5. 96 Estelle Poret (fra) 61 pts
6. 94 Patty Gutierrez (esp) 59 pts
Freestyle - after round 3
1. 16 Valerio Calderoni (ita) 130 pts
2. 20 Romain Stampers (fra) 120 pts
3. 70 Roberto Mariani (ita) 84 pts
4. 56 Sebastien Tchernia (fra) 64 pts
5. 32 Khaled Al-Qubaisi (uae) 33 pts Aquabike World Championship website