It’s a cold damp Sunday evening in Milan, Italy. The powerboat racing world should have been celebrating the fact that Sweden’s Erik Stark had just won his second F2 European Championship title. Instead the hugs exchanged in the race pits were for Paolo Zantelli’s family after the Italian driver was tragically killed in the fourth and final heat that day.
The racing accident took place just metres from the start pontoon. As the remaining ten drivers headed for the first turn Zantelli’s Clerici hull took off and landed on its side in a violent impact. The rescue teams were on the scene in seconds and extracted Zantelli who was now in an unconscious condition. An air ambulance was quickly summoned but it was decided by the Doctors treating him that he should be rushed to the local hospital via an ambulance. He later past away from his injuries sustained in the crash.
With sixteen entries all vying to become the 2013 F2 European Champion this weekend at the Idroscalo in Milan, the driver who can adapt quickest to the challenge of four heats of fifteen lap sprint racing will be a worthy winner of the UIM title.
Setting the standard straight away was the local hero Paolo Zantelli after he claimed pole position on this tricky four pin course. Finding the mix of top end speed and fast acceleration wasn’t going to be easy but the experienced Italian knew his Clerici hull would be well suited to the long straights, a feat he demonstrated recently when he won the British Grand Prix on a similar race circuit.
Following the cut and thrust of the fourth round of UIM F2 World Championship at Nottingham, England, attention now switches to Milan, Italy as the drivers line up to challenge for the UIM F2 European Championship title.
The format is straight forward with points awarded over four heats, two held on Saturday and two held Sunday, the issue is who can get four clean starts and who will be left on the start pontoon when the red lights go out and who will pick up the trophy on Sunday evening.
With only sixteen slots on the grid for the British F2 Grand Prix competition was always going to be fierce at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham. Ten drivers had automatically qualified from the time trials held on Saturday so that just left six places for the remaining twelve drivers to fight over.
As the qualifying race got under way three boats crashed out at the first turn, amongst them was Mette Bjerknaes, who had made a great start only to be spun into the path of Ian Andrews. The resulting impact destroyed Andrews DAC hull and seriously damaged Bjerknaes Moore hull. “I am so thankful that today I was racing a boat that has a 4000 Newton’s safety cell” she said, “if I had been racing my old Molgaard I probably would have been seriously injured.” Tobias Munthe-Kaas was also caught up in the incident and his BaBa hull sustained damaged to the right hand sponson.