Not only did last week’s Grand Prix of Qatar kick off the beginning of the globetrotting Aquabike World Championship, but the contest was rife with highs and lows, disappointments and elation. When the water finally settled, it was France’s Cyrille Lemoine, Jeremy Poret and Jennifer Menard who executed an unheard of sweep of their respective classes.
Although Lemoine came home with the GP1 Runabout title, it wasn’t given away. Qatar’s Doha Bay was abuzz with expectation for Runabout’s defending World Champion Yousef Al Abdulrazzaq.
But it was all for naught as Al Abdulrazzaq was immediately black-flagged after racing the wrong way around the course – this being his second year making the same dangerous error. “I cannot believe it has happened again,” he grieved. “There was a miscommunication between me and officials and I misunderstood what they said. It happens.” (No, no it doesn’t. – Ed.)
The heat went to Qatar’s Al Haidus with Lemoine in second after Mattia Fracasso’s ignition key slipped out.
The next day, Al Abdulrazzaq comically bad luck continued as he scrabbled from last place to second until he was ejected from his ski in a collision with Teddy Pons. Reboarding, Al Abdulrazzaq fought to reel in Waleed Al Sharshani in third until engine problems dropped him from contention.
Fracasso came back swinging until scattering his engine, handing the race over to Pons and Lemoine. Lemoine came in just 10ths of a second behind Teddy Pons, which gave Lemoine enough points to earn the French rider his third Grand Prix win in Qatar in four years.
A surge of anticipatory enthusiasm electrified the crowd as the Ski GP1 took to the water. Boiling down to a face-to-face showdown between France’s two-time World Champion Poret and America’s 18-time IJSBA World Champion Chris MacClugage. Macc led the 18-ski pack the first moto of Day 1 with a 3-second gap over Poret.
Undaunted, Poret reeled in the leader and pulled an inside pass on lap 3. Although a tight race until the end, Poret came out the victor. “I couldn’t have hoped for better,” said Poret. “For me it was almost a perfect race, I know I can make a better start but was very happy with the over take to get the lead.”
The second day saw even more drama as MacClugage was within one lap of winning when a snapped sparkplug dropped him from the running. Until then, Macc had a considerable lead on the pack and many thought this would hand the weekend’s title to the American. The fateful breakdown gifted Poret with the win, who admitted, “It was very bad luck for Mac. I didn’t want that for him but it is a mechanical sport as well,” said Poret.
And as outlined in the official Aquabike report, “Rok Florjancic remains unbeaten in his nine Grand Prix outings and the man to beat in Freestyle, producing another near-perfect performance to score 98 points out of 100 to secure his third Qatar GP title, ahead of brother Nac and Qatar’s Sultan Al Kuwari.”
Grand Prix of Qatar – Overall results
Runabout GP1: 1. C.Lemoine, 2. T.Pons, 3. W.Al Sharshani; Ski GP1: 1. J.Poret, 2. T.Sousa, 3. L.Caumont; Ski GP1 Ladies: 1. J.Menard, 2. E.Poret, 3. M.Sorrentino; Freestyle: 1. R.Florjancic; 2. N.Florjancic; 3. S.Al Kuwari