With only days to go before the launch of the London Grand Prix, the first F1 meeting staged in the UK capital for 33 years, the interest from race boat fans is excellent and the Chinese promoter is confident this event could the first of many.
Grant Trask – Team Atlantic
There have been many changes in F1 since the 1986 event, including the Mercury engine has gone from 2 litre up to 2.5litre, and the obvious difference being that the catamarans now sport fully enclosed cockpits whereas the 1986 cats were open cockpits leaving drivers exposed to the elements. Thirty plus years ago Britain was represented by at least six drivers, today there are none in F1 and only Sam Whittle is flying the Union Jack flag in F4S. World Champion Jonathan Jones from Cardigan, Wales won the last race in 1986 and is still involved with the F1 series as a T.V. commentator alongside American Steve Michael.
F1 commentators American Steve Michael and winner of the 1986 London Grand Prix Jonathan Jones
For the first time there will be three lady drivers taking part in the 2018 London GP – Norway’s Marit Stromoy who has been racing in F1 for over 6 years will be joined by Mette Berkness in Team Maverick making it a 3 boat team, and Germany’s Simone Schuft Cantando’s Blaze Team. The driver line-up will star three former and current world champions – Team China’s Philippe Chiappe (x3 Champion) Mad Croc Sami Selio (x2 Champion) and reigning Champion Victory’s Alex Carella (x4 Champion) who won his 4th gold medal while driving for Abu Dhabi in 2017.
A driver who will be hoping for a top ten finish is Australia’s Grant Trask. Not only has Grant travelled the longest distance to get to London but he also has a major handicap after he lost a leg in a road accident when he was a child. This has not stopped him indulging in his favourite sport, and he is an inspiration to us all, indeed he is Australia’s top F1 pilot driving a catamaran built by his father’s company.
The Royal Victoria Dock is a great race circuit overlooked by the purpose built Excel exhibition centre which will be hosting a technical exhibition during the race weekend. There will be 9 teams racing made up of 20 drivers representing 12 countries, and there are 2 three boat teams – Team Maverick with Cedric Deguisine, Erik Stark and Mett Berkness, and Team Abu Dhabi with Shaun Torrente, Thani Al Qamzi and Rashid Al Qamzi. Alex Carella was the number one pilot with Abu Dhabi but moved to Dubai’s Victory team during the closed season while Torrente took over Carella’s seat in Abu Dhabi.
The London F1 Grand Prix could be the inspiration the UK needs to get its circuit racing back to its former glory where hopefully a new batch of youngsters will strive to become F1 stars.
The F1 Grand Prix is supported by a fleet of F4S catamarans, each one painted in the colours of it’s F1 team. Sam Whittle represents Duarte Benavente’s Team Atlantic. The small catamaran’s are powered by a 70hp Mercury outboard and reach speeds of 70mph.