As the sunset over the Grand Prix of Portugal podium, a champagne soaked Pierre Lundin felt he could now finally relax after a job well done. “A perfect end to a not so perfect season” said the 2016 UIM F2 World Champion.
Just hours earlier when the red starts lights had gone out, he had made the perfect get away from pole position, leaving both Owen Jelf and Rupp Temper in his wake. Jelf later said that he made a slight error with his start, which allowed Temper to get the jump on him.
After a rather dramatic morning at the Grand Prix of Portugal, that saw three boats sidelined for tomorrow’s race, a scenes of calm and tranquillity that the Douro Royal Valley hotel is renowned for returned to the event, when qualifying past off without any need to get the rescue teams involved.
It could all have been very different though, because as the afternoon wore on a strong breeze had now developed and posting a quick time had almost become like a lottery.
When Gordon Sutherland, the UIM Sports Commissioner presiding over this weekend’s activities on the water at the Grand Prix of Portugal asked the seventeen drivers to take it easy today out there, it obviously fell on deaf ears as within the first hour of ‘Free Practice’ three boats crashed out and one headed back to the race pits with damage at the rear of its left sponson.
When Paul Balfour, the 2016 British F2 National Champion crashed out during the recent UIM F2 European Championships he thought his racing days were effectively over for a seriously long time but this weekend, following a remarkable two week period, he will line up alongside the sixteen drivers that have entered the UIM F2 Grand Prix of Portugal.
The Douro Royal Valley Hotel & Spa is said to offer a relaxing and welcoming environment, surrounded by Douro's ancestral vines, in a region that was classified as a ‘World Heritage’ site back in 2001. Modern and elegant, the hotel, which is a little over one year old, allows each guest to relate intimately with the natural world, mirrored by the calm waters of the Douro River. This weekend though that same stretch of water will be far from calm, when the region plays host to the final round of the UIM Formula Two World Championship.
They might have started the day on equal points but tonight Sweden’s Pierre Lundin is the toast of the Maconnais – Beaujolais wine region after not only winning the UIM F2 Grand Prix of France but also securing enough points to reclaim his World Championship title in the process after his title rival Erik Edin crashed out just eleven laps into the fifty five lap race.
As the start the light went out Edin once again made the perfect start and quickly opened up a gap over Lundin who had started back in fifth place. Around the short course on the River Saone the action was fast and frenetic as the eighteen drivers battled their way through the choppy condition. Amongst the early retirements was Mette B. Bjerknæs, who had started from third place on the grid. Just seven laps in her Moore hull hit a wash and flew through the air. “I saw the wash but it was too late” said the Norwegian driver. “As the boat landed I knew something had broken because I lost my power-steering, it was impossible to continue so I had to pull off the course. Yes, I’m a little bit disappointed but qualifying shows that I’m beginning to master this hull.”