Although the World Championship title was decided in the penultimate round four weeks earlier, American Formula I ace Scott Gillman went on to add the UAE Grand Prix, the final round of the series, to his impressive points score.
Although the World Formula I Powerboat Championship title was decided in the penultimate round four weeks earlier, American Formula I ace Scott Gillman went on to add the UAE Grand Prix, the final round of the series, to his impressive points score.
The race started with Italian Guido Cappellini, who had taken pole position in practice, quickly opening a clear lead ensuring his main rival Gillman, lying second, was kept at bay. Close astern however were drivers Fabio Comparato from Italy, Finn Sami Selio and Frenchman Phillippe Dessertenne all eager to fill third place on the final championship points table.
Italian Francesco Cantando, already confirmed as championship runner-up, began suffering from a previous neck injury neck affecting his driving. He therefore wisely retired.
By the 13th lap Gillman and Cappellini were neck to neck and it looked at one stage as if Gillman would take the lead but tight congestion around the leading pack worked in Cappellini’s favour allowing him to power ahead. His luck was however short-lived. Engine problems on the 25th lap forced him to stop and subsequently retire.
Gillman seized the opportunity and took the lead followed by Comparato and Tany Al Qamzy. Italian Fabrizio Bocca from the Rainbow Corona team lay fourth slot chased by Britain’s Andy Elliot lying fifth. Sami Selio lay sixth with Frenchman Phillippe Dessertenne filling seventh slot.
By now increasing winds were building rough surface conditions but this had little affect on the flying leaders.
Yellow flags waved on the 32nd lap when one of the back markers slowed with mechanical problems, gave Comparato the opportunity to gain some ground on Gillman and close up the field once more.
Racing started once again on lap 38 with Gillman once again heading the pack
It was now Bocca’s turn to suffer engine problems and although his mechanics got him back on the course he never recovered his earlier form and retired soon after. Elliott was another to pull out with technical problems.
Only13 boats now remained in the contest and in the closing laps Gillman and Comparato were virtually side-by-side. Gillman showed his superiority however setting a lap time of 0:56.14 over Comparatos’ 0:57.06 as the chequered flag was flown.
Sami Selio, following problems earlier in the race, managed a comeback finishing third ahead of Dessertenne, Roggiero and Portuguese Benavente.
Points were also scored by rookie David Trask – his fifth time in the top ten this year and Philippe Chiappe from the Ligier team. Unfortunately, Gillman’s teammate, Tany Al Qamzy, did not stay in the top three slipping back to seventh but his disappointment was short-lived as he celebrated Gillman’s victory.
“I’m delighted to win, ” enthused Gillman. “I put my success down to my team – after all you can be a good driver but if you don’t have strong support it’s very difficult to actually win.”
Comparato was equally buoyant. “I’m in good spirits and very excited for my prospects for the next racing season.”
“This race was difficult for me,” commented Sami Selio. “We lost an engine in the first qualifying session and all my props matched that particular unit so I was a little nervous to push my boat hard. All turned out okay however and luck was definitely on my side.”
Sharjah was the last race in the Formula 1 World Championship and promoter Nicolo di San German was very satisfied with how the season progressed.
“It has been a wonderful year with great racing, spectacular venues and new opportunities to show our exciting sport to a wider global audience. We’re looking forward to taking the racing to more new and breathtaking locations next year. My heartfelt thanks goes to Sharjah for making this race so successful and to all our promoters over the past year for their support.”
World Formula I Championship
1. S.Gillman (USA) 144 pts. 2. F.Contando (It) 95pts 3. F. Comparato (It) 70pts
4. G.Cappellini (It) 68pts 5. S.Sami (Fin) 64pts 6. P.Dessertenne (Fra) 59pts