15 February 2024


Thursday, February 15: The Freestyle discipline in the UIM-ABP Aquabike World Championship is often overlooked but the talent and tenacity required to succeed at the highest level should not be underestimated.


Riders demonstrate a spectacular array of barrel-rolls, back flips, spins, 360s, acrobatic combinations and somersaults during their short time in front of the crowds and it was the former world number one Roberto Mariani who became World Champion by the narrowest of margins in 2023.


Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashid Al-Mulla came into the final Moto of the season on Lake Toba in Indonesia with a three-point advantage over his great Italian rival. But the Emirati’s engine was not fully responsive during the final showdown and 53-year-old Mariani was awarded the Moto 2 win from Al-Mulla and Portugal’s third-placed Paulo Nuñes.


Mariani, who is a coachbuilder by profession, duly tied on points with Al-Mulla at the end of the season. However, the Italian had scored better on the final Moto of the year and was awarded the world title and the Grand Prix by the narrowest of margins. The duo had shared a win and a second place apiece in Sardinia and a win and a runner-up spot each again on Lake Toba.


They will renew their intense rivalry when the 2024 season gets underway at a superb new venue at Quy Nhon in the province of Bình Đinh in central Vietnam on March 22nd-24th.