Norway’s Marit Stromoy held off three-time world champion Alex Carella and Victory Team’s Shaun Torrente to become the first-ever woman champion in the 32-year history of UIM F1 H20 World Championship with an outright win in the Sharjah Grand Prix on Friday.
Stromoy, who started off from fourth in the sixth and final race on the 2015 F1 calendar, held off the chasing pair of Carella and Torrente to finish the 43-lap race 4.70 seconds ahead of Team Abu Dhabi’s Carella and a further 12.73 seconds clear of Victory Team’s Torrente.
The huge crowd burst into cheer as Stromoy received her winner’s trophy from Shaikh Sultan Bin Ahmad Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Corporation and Sharjah Media Centre, in the presence of UIM President Raffaele Chiulli and F1 promoter Nicola di San Germano, among others.
“Going into this race, my goal was a podium finish. But here I am fulfilling a dream that I have had in my 26 years of powerboat racing,” a beaming Stromoy told Gulf News.
Making her 61st start in a F1 race, this was also the first time-ever that Stromoy has climbed a podium. “I never imagined I would be here. These moments are so special to me. I just want to take in all these and then wait for some time before they start sinking in,” she added.
“Right now, I am headed back to be with my team to give them all one big hug.”
Born in Sandefjord, Norway and now a resident of Oslo, the 39-year-old Stromoy made her racing debut in 1989 at the age of 12. She started off in the S-550 class, winning the European Championship three times in 1996, 1998 and 1999 along with the Nordic Championship twice in 1996 and 1999.
In 2000, she moved up to race in F-2000 and was voted ‘rookie of the year’, finishing second in the UAE President’s Cup in 2002, second in the Nordic Championship in 2005 and third in the European Championship in 2007. In the same year, she became the first woman to compete in the Formula 1 World Powerboat Championship.
Though Erik Stark started off from pole, it was reigning two-time world champion Philippe Chiappe thundering ahead, chased down by Stromoy, who was starting in fourth from the start line. Carella and Stark were pushed into third and fourth while Torrente and Sami Selio followed.
The race opened up on the 13th lap of the 43 laps when Chiappe broke his propeller — handing over the sole leadership of the race to Stromoy, ironically the only woman in this championship. “This is a great moment in my career and I want to enjoy this,” the Norwegian smiled.
Positions at the end of the Sharjah Grand Prix — the sixth and final round of the F1 H20 World Championship held at the Khalid Lagoon on Friday: 1. Marit Stromoy (Norway — Team EMIC); 2. Alex Carella (Italy — Team Abu Dhabi); 3. Shaun Torrente (USA — Victory Team); 4. Erik Stark (Sweden — Emirates Team); 5. Sami Selio (Finland — Mad-Croc Baba Racing Team); 6. Jonas Andersson (Sweden — Team Sweden); 7. Ahmad Al Hameli (UAE — Emirates Team); 8. Jesper Forss (Sweden — Team Sweden); 9. Nader Bin Hendi (UAE — Victory Team); 10. Christophe Larigot (France — Team EMIC).
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