Wednesday, 7 June: Following a spectacular season opener last week, the UIM-ABP Aquabike World Championship stays in Italy but switches Puglia coastlines and heads north-east to Vieste for this weekend’s Grand Prix of the Mediterranean.
Thrills, spills and cutthroat competition were promised for 2017 and the opener in Porto Cesareo and the 140 riders from 26 countries didn’t disappoint over the three days of non-stop racing. It had everything; spectacular beach starts, a tough circuit, crashes in abundance, rule infringements, disqualifications, huge crowds but above all spectacular close quarter racing.
Whilst the riders in GP1 were looking for maximum points to kick start their year, in Runabout GP2&4 and Ski GP2&3 world titles were on the line; Italy’s Mattia Fracasso, Sweden’s Christian Cagnard, Norway’s Daniel Svae Andersen and Belgium’s Quinten Bossche all taking gold.
Now the focus of attention switches solely to GP1 with many of the fancied riders with a lot to think about.
Quinten Bossche, 22 from Ostende was the standout rider last time out, not only defending his Ski GP3 title successfully but also stepping up to make his debut in the top flight and gave the world’s best in Ski GP1 something to think about as they all head to Vieste, winning Moto2 on his Kawasaki and finishing on the podium in second behind world champion Jeremy Poret on the Bullett and ahead of Stian Schjetlein on the ProForce.
Mickael and Morgan Poret will look to build on their solid starts to their year on their new Kawasaki’s after taking fourth and fifth spots, with Andersen also very solid in sixth overall.
Looking to make up for a disastrous opener in Vieste will be 2015 champion Kevin Reiterer. The Austrian was beset with technical issues and after 2 Motos is now staring at a 45 point deficit in the title race.
Estelle Poret made a great start on her new Bullett and leads the world title race for the first time in her career after an extraordinary pair of Motos, sharing a win apiece with champion Emma-Nellie Ortendahl, both riders swapping places at the front as well trading crashes, Ortendahl’s glance to the left and tumble at the start-finish line as she started her last lap in Moto2 proving the more costly.
New Zealander Kylie Ellmers will line-up in Vieste knowing that she has a super competitive Ski, her new generation SDC giving the ‘elder stateswoman’ on the UIM-ABP tour her best result and her first podium in third. The Borgstrom sisters started their year solidly and battled it out on the water, with Jonna just sneaking the advantage over Sofie, with Latvia’s Krista Uzare looking to cement her credentials as the best of the newcomers on the UIM-ABP tour.
In Runabout the competition will again be fierce; defending champion Yousef Al Abdulrazzaq showed he is clearly intent on keeping his title and leads after taking top spot in Porto Cesareo, besting rival James Bushell in Moto1, who then disastrously broke whilst leading comfortably in the second dropping crucial points.
But it was Hungary’s Gyorgy Kasza who made everyone sit up and take note after blitzing the entire field of 21 with astonishing pace to take the win in Moto2 and secure third spot on the podium behind a very solid start to the year by Sweden’s Lars Akerblom.
Newcomer Carl Lampe, Jeremy Perez, Mattia Fracasso and Johan Johansson all picked up points, but dropped more, and will all be looking for big improvements in Vieste, with three big names Marcus Jorgensen, Christophe Agostinho and Andrzej Wisniewski all looking to turn things around and post their first points of the year.
In Freestyle Rok Florjancic heads to Vieste unbeaten and with maximum points but can expect to feel the heat from brother Nac.
The first of the action gets underway on Friday morning at 10.10hrs with free practice followed by official qualifying in the afternoon starting at 15.00hrs.
[For further information and to watch all the action from Motos 1&2 on Saturday and Sunday streamed live; visit aquabike.net]