H2O Racing
Union Internationale Motonautique


March 31, 2024

Sunday, March 31:  The Victory Team’s Erik Stark took full advantage of his pole position to lead a yellow-flag interrupted

first-ever Grand Prix of Bình Định-Vietnam from start-to-finish in Quy Nhơn on Sunday morning.


The Swede completed the 35-lap race in stifling heat just 2.715 seconds in front of Team Vietnam’s defending World Champion Jonas Andersson. Stark’s fifth career Grand Prix win and a first since Sharjah in 2018 has given him an eight-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship. Andersson’s runner-up spot marked his 33rd career podium in F1H2O racing. The result also saw Team Vietnam lead the Sharjah Team by 15 points in the UIM F1H2O Teams’ Championship with the Victory Team in third.


Stark said: “I had a good race. Of course, I was pacing myself and was feeling it. I had a big moment on the start straight and I thought this is it but the boat was good, the team worked well and I had amazing propellers from Mr. Dynamite. It was tough. It got quite rough and the wind was picking up all the time.”


Andersson added: “I had quite a bad start compared to yesterday and I didn’t have any chance to overtake Erik. When we came out of the first lap, I know Erik and I train him. He is one of the best drivers in the championship. I tried to push as much as possible and I gained some time on him. Then I arrived too close and I didn’t see anything because of the spray and I had to back off. I was waiting for him to make a mistake but it was not possible to get too close to him. We should be happy with second place. The new boat was not perfect here. I think the old boat was better but you never know. The other boat was fantastic in Indonesia. I am happy for the team. Unfortunately, Stefan (Arand) broke his propeller, otherwise the team had a fantastic weekend and Stefan qualified third.”


After a spectacular collision between the Sharjah Team’s Filip Roms and the China CTIC Team’s Brent Dillard that forced a yellow flag after 17 laps, Dillard’s team-mate Peter Morin was able to overtake race one winner Rusty Wyatt to snatch third and the final place on the podium when Wyatt suffered communication issues with his radioman at the crucial restart. Wyatt recovered well and finished fourth for the Sharjah Team to hold joint second with Andersson in the points’ standings.


Morin said: “I think it was one of the hardest races that I do. It was so hot. The water was very nice but the wind was difficult to control the boat. We did a good option on the race course and we are very happy to finally take the third place. I am so happy for the whole team who worked very hard to make a great job. I make a very good restart. I had a lot of speed. I was very happy to make this move after the restart. It would have been very difficult to do this afterwards.”


Strømøy Racing’s Bartek Marszalek and Marit Strømøy finished fifth and eighth, sandwiching Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al-Qamzi and the Red Devil-SMC F1 Team’s double World Champion Sami Seliö. The Emirati and the Finn finished sixth and seventh.


Stark’s Emirati team-mate Ahmad Al-Fahim claimed his first points of the season with ninth and Maverick Racing’s Cédric Deguisne moved up to 10th and claimed a championship point when Dutchman Ferdinand Zandbergen was disqualified after the race for taking the wrong direction on the course. His demise lifted Al-Qamzi’s team-mate Rashed Al-Qemzi and Ben Jelf of the F1 Atlantic Team into 11th and 12th.


1st Grand Prix of Bình Định-Vietnam – as it happened


Stark lined up on the pontoon ahead of Andersson, Arand, Wyatt and Morin for the start of the 35-lap encounter on Thi Nai Bay. After his accident in the morning’s warm-up session, Maverick Racing’s Alexandre Bourgeot and his team faced a race against time to repair the boat because he had already replaced his Moore for the spare DAC on Saturday. The team confirmed less than two hours before the race that the Frenchman would not start.


Engine changes forced Dillard and Jelf to line-up in 15th and 16th and Rashed Al-Qemzi started at the rear of the pontoon after replacing Alberto Comparato following qualifying. Could the Emirati resurrect Team Abu Dhabi’s fortunes while much of the western world celebrated Easter Sunday?


In baking heat, high humidity and a slight breeze coming off the shore, the start would be crucial and Stark managed to hold off Andersson as Wyatt found a way to pass Arand after the Estonian made a poor start. The two Swedes maintained the initiative but were not able to shake off a determined Wyatt. The leading trio began to pull away from Arand, who was under pressure from Morin from the outset. Seliö, Marszalek, Thani Al-Qamzi, Marit Strømøy and Ahmad Al-Fahim rounded off the early top 10.


Andersson had no answer to Stark and the Victory Team driver took advantage of his canny propeller choice and began to edge away: his lead was 3.547 seconds into lap six, as the top 10 held station and Roms and Dillard held 11th and 12th.


Stefan Arand’s dream of impressing the local crowd ended on lap seven when the second of the Team Vietnam boats ground to a halt with a broken propeller but the Estonian pulled off the course and the action continued interrupted with Stark leading Andersson by 2.977 seconds into lap 10. The F1 Atlantic Team’s Duarte Benavente joined Arand on the list of retirements after nine laps. His team-mate Jelf was running at the rear of the field in 15th behind Al-Qemzi.


There were no changes on the leader board through 15 laps with Stark maintaining a 3.583sec cushion Andersson with Wyatt and Morin unable to close the gap on the leading Swedes. The race was yellow-flagged on lap 17 when Roms spectacularly turned in too early, collided with and barrel-rolled over Dillard’s China CTIC boat, put both drivers out of contention and damaged both hulls.


Action resumed with a green flag on lap 21 and Stark managed to stay in front of the defending World Champion. But Wyatt suffered issues with his radio, lost contact with his radio man and also ceded his third place to Morin. Marszalek and Al-Qamzi both found a way to pass Seliö with Strømøy, Al-Fahim and Zandbergen rounding off the top 10.


Ten laps remained and Stark continued to maintain his composure as Morin began to nibble into Andersson’s hold on second place. Wyatt lost touch with the Frenchman but was running well clear of Marszalek and Al-Qamzi. The Emirati’s team-mate Al-Qemzi and Jelf remained at the rear of the field in 12th and 13th.


Andersson had no answer to his great friend’s speed and Stark used his pole position and cleaner water to full advantage to secure a memorable fifth career win to snatch the lead in the World Championship. Andersson held off Morin to take second and Wyatt stayed clear of Marszalek to seal fourth.