H2O Racing
Union Internationale Motonautique


March 26, 2024

Tuesday, March 26:  Final preparations are now being made for this weekend’s inaugural Grand Prix of Bình Định-Vietnam, round two of this year’s UIM F1H2O World Championship.


The ground-breaking new race at a stunning venue in the city of Quy Nhơn on the east coast in the centre of the country was announced last July. Months of planning will come to fruition when the lights go out on Thi Nai Bay for the start of the Grand Prix at 11.00hrs on Sunday morning (March 31st).


After a sensational start to the season on Lake Toba in Indonesia a few weeks ago, a surprising name tops the Drivers’ Championship heading into the Vietnamese racing weekend. Canadian rookie Rusty Wyatt rocked the establishment with a stunning last-gasp win in Sumatra to become the first rookie in the modern era of F1H2O racing to win out of the blocks.


That stunning performance has given Ontario-based Wyatt of the Sharjah Team a four-point cushion over the Victory Team’s Erik Stark with the new format in place for this season, whereby points are also awarded for a pair of Sprint races that take place the day before the Grand Prix. Wyatt’s team-mate Filip Roms failed to finish in Indonesia but the Sharjah Team holds second in the UIM Teams’ Championship nonetheless.


Jonas Andersson is the defending World Champion and looked set to get his first appearance for his new Team Vietnam off to the perfect start on Lake Toba until his boat let him down on the final lap of the thrilling race. As he was overtaken by Stark, Wyatt came round the outside to snatch the win and Andersson now finds himself seven points adrift in third place in the Drivers’ Championship, although Team Vietnam leads the Teams’ series by four points. Andersson also tops the rankings in the F1H2O Pole Position Trophy.


Andersson, his wife Jane Person and team-mate Stefan Arand have been in Quy Nhơn for several days and Andersson was able to watch a thrilling conclusion to the UIM-ABP Aquabike World Championship in Thi Nai Bay on Sunday afternoon. Arand, like Wyatt, is also a 2024 rookie and finished his first ever F1H2O race in fourth place and holds a similar position in the Drivers’ Championship.


Speaking after the conclusion of the final Freestyle Moto on Sunday, the Swede said: “It is fantastic what they have built here. It is going to be a very nice and interesting race. The facilities are amazing, perfect. I don’t think the heat is going to be a problem to be honest because we are racing in the mornings, so it should be okay. We always try to win and we are going to do our best. That’s what we can do. Yes, for sure, I have the pressure here. We, as a team, have the pressure but it’s a long race. The interest in the racing and the amount of people here is amazing. It’s going to be a lot of fun..”


Tied with Arand after race one is last year’s Indonesian race winner Bartek Marszalek. He finished fifth in Sumatra earlier this month in his Strømøy Racing DAC. His Norwegian team-mate Marit Strømøy guided the Mercury four-stroke-engined hull to a fine seventh place behind two-time World Champion Sami Seliö of the Red Devil-SMC F1 Team and Strømøy Racing holds third in the Teams’ Championship as a result of that solid start to the season.


Seliö, Strømøy and an ever-improving Ben Jelf of the F1 Atlantic Team are tied for sixth in the Drivers’ Championship: Jelf crossed the finish line in eighth on Lake Toba. Seliö’s Dutch team-mate Ferdinand Zandbergen failed to finish the first race of the season and has slipped to 14th in the Drivers’ Championship.


The China CTIC Team will be out to improve its fortunes in Quy Nhơn. Peter Morin and Brent Dillard hold ninth and 10th in the Drivers’ Championship after finishing the opening race in 11th and 10th, respectively. Morin’s result could have been so much better had he not incurred a one-lap penalty for failing to maintain his lane at the start.


Team Abu Dhabi was the all-conquering operation for several seasons but needs to bounce back strongly from a disappointing start to the season in Indonesia. Like Morin, Emirati veteran Thani Al-Qamzi incurred a one-lap penalty in Sumatra for not maintaining his lane at the start and that pushed him down to an eventual 12th place. The team’s recent signing Alberto Comparato finished ninth but the duo are 12th and 11th in the Drivers’ Championship and the team operating out of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADMSC) languishes in eighth in the Teams’ Championship.


Jelf’s team-mate Duarte Benavente finished out of the points in the opening Grand Prix, although he did pick up three for his finish in the second of the Sprint races. The Portuguese is 15th in the points’ standings, ahead of the Maverick Racing duo of Cédric Deguisne and Alexandre Bourgeot.


After serving a one-race suspension for his part in a Sprint race accident in Sharjah last December, Emirati Ahmad Al-Fahim returns to racing action to support Stark in the Victory Team. Despite the Dubai-based driver’s absence on Lake Toba, Stark’s strong showing has lifted the Victory Team into fourth in the Teams’ Championship.


The official timetable begins on Thursday (March 28th) with technical scrutineering from 10.00hrs onwards in the paddock area on Thi Nai Bay and the official Press Conference at 10.00hrs.  The first day will end with the drivers’ briefing at 16.30hrs.