For Sweden’s Erik Stark it was business as usual when he secured pole position at the British F2 Powerboat Grand Prix. Having started from the number one spot on the grid at all the races so far this season Stark, who set his quickest time in his second session, admitted that when he saw his fellow countryman Jonas Andersson and Ola Pettersson dramatically crash out in their first session his nerves began to kick in.
“It was a very strange situation” said Stark “When I saw the two biggest threats to my World Championship title flip I couldn’t believe my eyes. They are both friends of mine and to begin with I was worried about them. When I found out they were both ok I felt a whole lot happier, but nervous about the gusts of winds that were getting stronger. If you dwell too much on a crash then you’re going to be the next person that it happens too, so I just switched my mind back into qualifying mode and went for it in my session.”
With Andersson and Pettersson safely ashore receiving treatment from the medical team as a precaution, the session recommenced and so did the battle between Paolo Zantelli and Johan Osterberg as they traded fastest times. In the end it was the Italian who ended up quickest and will start from second place on tomorrow’s grid.
“Today went really well” said Zantelli “Though each lap was different because the wind was getting stronger. Now we have a good set up although the engine isn’t in the best condition, we have an issue with the electronics but I’m hoping that my mechanics can fix it overnight.”
For Osterberg who will start in fourth place on the grid the result was better than he had expected.
“This Molgaard hull is way too short for this course” he said “So to get the fourth quickest time is really pleasing. Tomorrow I’m going to run a bigger propeller but for this race I really need to be ten years younger” he joked.
With the drivers split into two qualifying groups the spectators were certainly getting value for money as the twenty-two drivers battled hard to avoid having to race early Sunday morning in the repercharge.
Just missing out on automatic qualification was Erik Edin who span out at the pit end turn. “Pole for the ‘last chance saloon’ is little comfort” said Edin, “I lost out big time when I span out. I thought ok the airbag hasn’t gone off so I’m fine to continue, but then my radioman said shut the engine off so I knew I couldn’t continue.”
Joining Edin in the repercharge will be Mette Bjerknaes as she gave her brand new Moore hull its World Championship debut. An engine sensor failure meant that she struggled in qualifying but was generally pleased with the way the boat handled and is confident that she can make the grid for the Grand Prix.
Racing gets back under way with the final qualifying session at mid-day and then for those who don’t make the grid there’s an F2 International Cup to compete for at 13:45. The parade lap for the main event commences at 15:15 with the Grand Prix starting at 15:45 local time.