Stark Storms Through after Osterberg falters

It was always going to be a Molgaard dominated podium at the first ever Baku Powerboat Grand Prix, the tricky bit was working out which driver would be occupying the top step of the podium at the conclusion of the forty lap race.

The strong gusty conditions, which had delayed the start, had little effect on the Caspian Sea course which had remained in a very calm state for the entire weekend suiting the Danish built hulls from Christian Molgaard. This was underlined by the fact that his latest creations had dominated the Match Race held on Saturday evening.

So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to see the Match Race winner Johan Osterberg surge into the lead as the red lights went out. Slotting in right behind him was Uvis Slakteris and the pair soon pulled out an early lead on the hard charging pack, which didn’t include Erik Stark who had made a poor start from pole position and was way down in seventh place after just one lap.

Yellow flags were soon out as the rescue teams headed off to the top of the course to extract Simone Schuft from her stricken DAC hull. The German driver had been caught out by a change of wind direction down the back straight and try as she might she was unable to stop her raceboat from blowing over.

With her safely ashore and receiving a round of applause from the packed grandstands as she made her way back to the pits, the race resumed with Osterberg holding the lead. Then from almost out of no-where came Stark. “I just told my radioman that I’m just looking forward and that I’m going for it” he said overtaking both Ola Pettersson and the local hero Jonas Andersson in one attempt. “I really took my chance and got more than I expected” he continued.

He was on a charge as he soon swept past Slakteris in the right hand turn promoting him into second place, catching Osterberg would be a different matter though. It wasn’t long before that opportunity presented itself when the yellow flags were out once again after Bimba Sjoholm had crashed out just after the right turn. With his new found confidence Stark soon took Osterberg for first place and with just ten laps to go pulled out a commanding lead over his fellow countryman.

Then heartache for Osterberg as his power-trim failed in the fully out position. “It was really hard in the second restart I knew I was a sitting duck for Stark” said Osterberg. “I thought ok second place is fine I had Jonas filling my mirrors but I had the measure of him, then the power-trim failed and in those gusty condition that’s the last thing you need” said the disappointed Swede.

Filling second place now was Andersson much to the delight of the huge crowd that had lined the waterfront and making it a Molgaard trio was Slakteris, who was using an untried propeller after his best one had snapped off during the Match Race. “We are back in the game” said the Latvian driver “especially after I scored no points at the last round”

Andersson was pleased with his weekend’s result after his start had once again been dreadful. “I don’t know whether it’s me or whether it’s the engine” he said. “After I caught up with Osterberg I said ok a podium place is better than I had hoped for after that start, so getting second was an added bonus.”

As Stark looked out across the huge crowd gathered at the foot of the podium he said that it was an incredible feeling winning in Baku and was happy to make a little bit of history in a city that certainly is becoming one of the sports capitals of the world.

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