18 April 2024

Friday, April 19: One important fact to emerge from the extremely successful opening round of the UIM-ABP Aquabike World Championship at the Grand Prix of Bình Định-Vietnam was the international popularity of the Runabout GP1 category.


Twenty riders registered for the opening two Motos on Thi Nai Bay in Quy Nhơn and 17 scored championship points. But 14 nations and racers from three continents were represented at the first round of what is set to be a pulsating World Championship.


Sweden’s Samuel Johansson and the defending champion François Medori shared a win and a second place apiece in Vietnam, with the Swede claiming the Grand Prix victory courtesy of winning the last of the Motos. The duo have 47 points apiece and a seven-point cushion over the experienced Hungarian Gyorgy Kasza.


Ten of the top 11 drivers on the current leader board come from different European countries. Behind the top three, Portugal’s Lino Araújo claimed a pair of fourth-place finishes and Czech racer Martin Doulik Junior rounds off the top five after finishing sixth in both Motos.


Experienced Dane Marcus Jorgensen, Sweden’s Linus Lindberg, Spaniard Ruben Jimenez Riquelme, Slovakia’s Mario Lamy and Bulgarian Yordan Nikolov complete a top 10 that emphasises the popularity of the discipline across the European Union.  Outside the top 10, Lithuania’s Egidijus Kirilevicius collected 20 points in Vietnam and holds 11th in the points’ standings.


Two American racers attended the opening round in Southeast Asia. Logistical issues meant that Anthony Radetic had to sit out the race weekend. He actually joined Dawn Dawson in the commentary box on several occasions to pass on his expert knowledge to a global audience that witnessed his fellow countryman Juan Cruz Lezcano pick up 18 points for 10th and 14th in the two Motos to hold 12th.


Rasmus Koch Hansen failed to finish Moto 1 but a strong performance in the second heat lifted the Dane to 13th, two points ahead of the tying Italian Lorenzo Benaglia and Sweden’s Johan Johansson. Benaglia’s fellow countryman Alberto Santini finished both Motos to hold 16th but Poland’s Andrzej Wisniewski endured a disappointing week with electrical and engine issues that pushed him down to 17th.


It was also a fraught week on the water for Japan’s Jun Ikoma and Frenchman Jeremy Perez, who failed to trouble the scorers in the two Motos. Perez suffered engine woes that cost him a potential podium finish in the first of the Motos and then super charger issues that ruined his Moto 2. Ikoma had technical problems in Moto 1 and then fell in the second heat.