Magnificent Marszalek dominates UIM F1H2O World Championship opener

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Winners pose for a picture with Yasonna Laoly, He Xiong, Nicolo Di San Germano after the presentation ceremony at the Kopiko Grand Prix of Indonesia on Lake Toba on Sunday.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

The Stromoy Racing F1H2O Team’s Bartek Marszalek leads the 2023 UIM F1H2O World Championship after winning the opening sprint race at the Kopiko Grand Prix of Indonesia on Lake Toba on Sunday.

In front of an estimated 100,000 spectators who lined the shores of the world’s largest volcanic lake in northern Sumatra, a fierce wind ruined the chance of race two being completed in the afternoon and the Pole was able to wrap up a successful weekend with a five-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship.

The Sharjah Team’s Sami Selio holds second place in the standings after finishing in a similar position in race one, while Sweden’s Erik Stark returned to the Victory Team for the first time since 2019 and holds third place.

Defending world champion Shaun Torrente of Team Abu Dhabi incurred a one-lap penalty for jump starting the lights at the start of race one and earned points for ninth, while the China CTIC Team’s Peter Morin and Torrente’s team-mate Thani Al Qemzi hold fourth and fifth in the rankings.

To begin with, I want to congratulate Bartek on his first win,” said Torrente.

“He deserves it. We had a good race, and he didn’t make any mistakes. I’m very pleased for him.”

“I can handle losing. In this sport, you lose more than you win. But I’m angry with myself. I let the team down, after all our preparation and everything we did this weekend. I won the race on the water, but gave it away.

“I feel bad for the team as they were fantastic, as usual, and deserved the win. But I’ll pick myself up quickly and move forward.

 Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente in action during the Kopiko Grand Prix of Indonesia.

“I had a pole, then it was gone, from just a timing error. Then after starting second, I jumped by a little bit. I still had a good race, but that’s the way it goes.”

Marszalek followed up his first ever pole position by securing a maiden victory on his 50th race start, when he led Kopiko Grand Prix of Indonesia race one from start-to-finish on Sunday lunchtime.

Team Abu Dhabi’s Torrente missed out on pole position after his fastest lap was disqualified in the morning’s BRM Qualifying session and the American looked set to make amends by snatching a last-gasp victory.

Torrente trailed Marszalek until the last few tours of the 18-lap sprint race and, when the action resumed after a late yellow flag, he managed to pass the Pole but was deemed to have made a jump start and was later handed a one-lap penalty that dropped him to ninth position.

A delighted Marszalek said: “What a fantastic feeling to win the race. I really enjoyed it. The weather was perfect this morning for qualifying and we had a lot of spectators around the shore. So many smiles give me extra horsepower. I feel very good in the boat.”

Selio finished second overall and the Victory Team’s returning Stark rounded off the podium places. When Jonas Andersson dropped back with technical issues over the last couple of laps to finish eighth, China CTIC Team’s Peter Morin and Torrente’s team-mate Thani stormed through to claim fourth and fifth positions.

Starting positions for race two on Sunday afternoon were determined by the finishing order of race one and, therefore, Marszalek, Selio and Stark lined up in first, second and third positions on the start pontoon for the second 18-lap race in the presence of Joko Widodo, the President of the Republic of Indonesia and a large government entourage. Torrente was down in ninth on the revised circuit after his jump-start in race one.

The wind had strengthened by the time the race was green-flagged and white horses were prevalent on the lake.

There was an inevitable delay while Race Director Luis Miguel Ribero decided whether the race could go ahead. From the start, racers began to slow and withdraw from the course and only 11 drivers remained on the water after three laps when the chequered flag was raised to abandon the competition.

After the presentation ceremony the F1H2O World Championship flag was officially handed over from Yasonna Laoly, Minister of Law and Human Rights of Indonesia to He Xiong, Mayor of the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, which will host round two of the UIM F1H2O World Championship on April 29-20.

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