An ecstatic Scott Gillman of the United States achieved his first ever success in Portugal on May 16 ending a five year run of bad luck on this challenging course.

An ecstatic Scott Gillman of the United States achieved his first ever success in Portugal on May 16 ending a five year run of bad luck on this challenging course.

Strong winds made it a difficult contest even for the leading names in Formula I but excitement soon began as eight-time Italian World Champion Guido Cappellini accelerated from 21st on the pole to ninth within two laps. Pole position winner, Massimo Roggiero was quickly overtaken by his team-mate Laith Pharaon while Italian, Francesco Cantando, who started ninth, was lying third by the third lap after setting an impressive time of 0.51.52.

Not to be outdone and confident from his qualifying performance, Spanish Fabio Comparato chose his moment to overtake Pharaon on the fourth which at 0.49.43 seconds became the fastest lap of the race.

Disaster struck on lap nine when Finnish Sami Selio collided with Massimo Roggiero so ending his race.

With pressure mounting, drivers were racing neck to neck for top positions – by now Cappellini lay sixth and Selio’s teammate, Julius Leysen, seventh. But Comparato still maintained his lead; Pharaon lay second with Cantando moving up to third ahead of fourth man Gillman.

Rough cross-winds at the tricky seventh turn proved challenging and caused Rainbow Corona’s Pierre Lundin to barrel roll writing off his boat.

By the 28th lap the lead had changed yet again with Cantando moving into second slot, Gillman lay third with Cappellini breathing down their necks in fourth place. Determined to win, Gillman began showing his skill in the rough conditions and by 42nd lap had snatched the lead from Comparato with a time of 0.53.99. Hard on Comparato’s stern Italian Cantando, the current points leader in the world championship, quickly moved up to second place which he held to the finish.

Despite being a winner in Portugal for five consecutive years, Cappellini was not able to add another victory to his impressive list. Finishing fourth and narrowly missing out for a place on the podium, he nevertheless managed to secure nine championship points, an impressive achievement having started the race from 21st pole position.

Enjoying his win, Scott Gillman commented, “It was a very rough race and I did not have a great start but I bid my time until I knew I could overtake Laith and then I moved steadily forwards. Needless to say I am delighted by the win as Portugal hasn’t been a good venue for me in the past.” “I drove really hard,” said a delighted Cantando. “Although my boat didnÕt perform 100 per cent over the weekend we managed to sort out the problems and win a place on the podium.” “I enjoyed the conditions today – very challenging and very exciting. I’m so pleased to be in the top three!” enthused Comparato.

As the series heads for the Mediterranean Grand Prix in Cagliari, Sardinia on May 29-30, Francesco Cantando leads the Championship with 50 points, Gillman with 40, Cappellini 33, Sami Selio 22 and Pharaon with 20.