09 August 2023

Thursday, August 10:  As the Endurance element of the UIM-ABP World Aquabike Championship makes a sensational return to the calendar on spectacular Lake Toba in Indonesia in late November, we take a look back at the category in recent seasons.


In the modern era of aquabike racing, the Grand Prix of Portugal joined the UIM-ABP Aquabike European Endurance Championship in Portimão in 2015. The event was dominated by Portuguese and French riders.


In Runabout GP1, Gonçalves and Pillet claimed the gold medal after winning both heats to secure outright victory from the Spanish pairing of Rodriguez and Garcia. France finished on the bottom step of the podium, courtesy of Vincendeau and Partouche. Double heat wins in GP2 and GP3 saw Team Atlantic Jet Store’s Cedric and Team SNP’s Juraldo and Sebastien claim the gold medals.


Solenzara in Corsica hosted the 2016 round and 35 racers lined up in the Runabout GP1, 2 and 3 categories for three gruelling heats over a five-kilometre, 13-pin course. Jean Bruno Pastorello and Porto Vecchio-based Jean-Baptiste Botti won the final heat to secure GP1 success from French rivals François Medori and Alex Barret. Bruno and Podda were triumphant in GP2 and GP3 honours went to Merle des Iles and Alain Tarzia, who won a hat-trick of heats.


Endurance racing returned to Portimão for a re-scheduled event in October 2017 and Portugal’s Carlos Trutta and Filipe Poddar dominated the Runabout category to claim GP1 honours and clinch the 2017 UIM-ABP Aquabike European Endurance Championship. Roland Couhet and Arnaud Bourreau finished second and topped the GP2 section. Vicente Cano and Sebastien Fragoso prevailed in Ski.


Portimão again hosted the 2018 event at the end of March and the French pairing of Morgan Poret and Alex Barret dominated the longer second leg to seal overall Runabout victory, with the Portuguese Sousa brothers, Rui and Tiago, prevailing in Ski. Thomas Favolinni secured the class win in GP2.


It was back to late September for the 2019 race meeting on the Arade River in Portimão, where Augusto and Bruno Fernandez won the Runabout GP1 and Veterans’ titles. The Monaco-based pairing of Jean-Pierre Bessero and Gerard Pouget won GP2 and GP3 success went to Aitsol Arakistain Beristain and Andoni Gutierrez Lizundia.


Covid-19 put paid to the endurance race in Portugal in 2020 and 2021 and there were no endurance events in 2022. That has paved the way for the spectacular return via the UIM-ABP Aquabike Endurance World Championship in Indonesia this coming November.


The three Indonesian endurance events will be staged on a closed-course circuit of around three-kilometres with a maximum time limit of one hour. Action gets underway with the Karo Cup between Pangururan and the race course at Tongging – 36km from Pangururan - on the northern shores of Lake Toba on November 22nd. The Cup will be decided by two races of 35 minutes apiece, starting at 11.30hrs and 14.00hrs, respectively.


Day two (November 23rd) sees endurance competitors battling it out for the Dairi Cup between Pangururan and Silalahi to the south, while the Samosir Cup on November 24th draws the endurance racing to a close at the base camp in Pangururan. The Dairi Cup will be decided over two 35-minutes races, starting at 11.30hrs and 14.00hrs, while the two Samosir Cup races start at 13.30hrs and 15.30hrs.