Gillman takes Chinese Grand Prix and championship lead

Scott Gillman of the United States has won the Powerboat Grand Prix of China in Shanghai and now with it takes the points lead in the World Formula I powerboat championship

Scott Gillman of the United States has won the Powerboat Grand Prix of China in Shanghai and now with it takes the points lead in the World Formula I powerboat championship

Gillman took the lead at the start but it was obvious that defending world champion, Italian Guido Cappellini, was determined to achieve maximum points, quickly moving up into third place behind Saudi Team Green driver, Laith Pharaon.

By the eighth lap Cappellini was filling second slot with lap times of 0:56.46. Disaster struck on the 14th when Portuguese Duarte Benevente suddenly stopped with engine failure. Unfortunately Belgium Julius Leysen lying astern was too close to avoid a collision: his boat flipping over and virtually disintegrating.

The yellow flag was raised forcing craft to slow while the debris was cleared and this respite provided a much welcome opportunity for drivers to cool down from the high temperatures inside their cockpits.

Racing commenced on lap 25 but within a matter of seconds another spectacular crash occurred in front of the grandstand when Saudi driver Laith Pharaon hit a large wave throwing him out of his boat to land head first in the water. He was quickly rescued and taken to hospital with a cut mouth and broken shoulder.

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With just 17 laps to the finish and few boats left in the contest, the remaining drivers were more determined than ever to race for points. But despite being slowed by two yellow flags, Gillman still managed to maintain his lead to the end ahead of Cappellini.

In the final laps Italian Francesco Cantando moved past Fabio Comparato into third place, snatching away any chance of a podium place for his Italian compatriot.

Cantando’s team mate, Max Moreschi at just 20 years old drove exceptionally well finishing seventh, the best result of his career to date.

Formula 1 Powerboat Promoter Nicolo di San Germano was delighted with the outcome. “The crowds were exceptional we estimated approximately one million viewers saw the event on TV – I’m sure those who watched the race have now become enthusiastic fans of the sport – they got a treat with a few incidents, fast racing and some hair raising moments. I thank the City of Shanghai for making it such a success!”

Gillman’s victory is his fourth victory in the 2004 Championship and his 18th career win to date.

“It was a difficult race in the heat especially as I knew Cappellini was chasing hard, said Gillman. He and Cantando are always great fun to compete against. I really enjoyed it and I’m now looking forward to the next race in Singapore”.

Gillman now leads the world championship with 92 points.

Cappellini was happy with his podium finish.

“I pushed hard for the first 24 laps but Scott was going much too fast for me. My set- up was good for the corners but not so good for the long stretches. I therefore decided to settle for a strong second and enjoy my 15 points,” commented Cappellini.

Cantando, who started from eighth position on the grid, managed to claw his way up to a third.

“It was not an easy race today because of the heat. However I’m very happy with my result and a place on the podium is always a great feeling”. Cantando enthused.

The UIM F1 Powerboat Championship now moves to Singapore on the spectacular Marina Bay against a dramatic city backdrop. Catch the action from 18-19 September 2004.


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