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Jet Ski Club

Thursday, 21 May, CASTRO (Italy): Fifty-seven competitors from 16 countries will line up in Castro on Italy’s picturesque south eastern Adriatic coast this weekend for the Grand Prix of Italy [22-24 May], round 2 of the UIM-ABP Aquabike World Championship, with the competition set to ratchet up another notch as the best-of-the-best lock horns and look to gain the upper hand in the title race.

Heading into round 2 France’s Jeremy Perez and Austria’ s Kevin Reiterer will be looking to try to repeat the success they both enjoyed last weekend, winning both heats in their respective categories, Runabout and Ski, in round 1 of the European Continental Championship.

Perez currently sits in second spot in the [Runabout] points table and heads up a strong French contingent, but the man for him and everyone to beat will be ‘history maker’ Thamer Al Darwish, who leads the title race after becoming the first Qatari to win a heat and GP title on the UIM-ABP tour, doing it at the season-opener in March on his home waters in Doha. “There is a little more pressure on me now after the win,” said Al Darwish. “I haven’t raced competitively since then but have done a lot of testing and I am aiming to try to repeat the win and keep the Championship lead in Castro.”

Joining Al Darwish is Qatar Teammate and world number five Mohammed Al Heidus, with Kuwaiti and former World Champion Yousef Al Abdulrazzaq and the UAE’s Khalifa Belselah adding to an impressive and formidable Middle East challenge.

Adding weight to the French bid for honours this weekend are Jean-Baptiste Botti and Francois Medori who completed a Corsican one-two in the Karujet in Guadeloupe in April, Botti sitting in third spot after winning heat 1 in Qatar, Medori in sixth with Didier Chabert in ninth.

Looking to get their title challenges back on track and make up lost points are defending World Champion Teddy Pons, and former Champions Cyrille Lemoine and Mattia Fracasso.

In Ski, Nacho Armillas and defending Champion Jeremy Poret share top spot, with Alex Barret in third but all are likely to face a strong challenge from Reiterer, who looked strong on his tour debut earlier in the year, and saw off Armillas and fourth placed Mickael Poret to win in Porec. “It is never easy when you are up against so many good riders,” said Armillas. “It looks as if we will have rough seas which can change things, but it is the same for everyone and for sure I expect to have a big battle with Jeremy and his brother [Mickael] and Kevin. We will see what happens.”

In Ski Ladies Marta Sorrentino carries the flag for Italy in a strong field of ten from seven countries, but she faces the daunting task of trying to upstage points’ leader, Sandra Fernandez, world number two Estelle Poret and defending Champion Jennifer Menard, and comes to Castro following operations on both arms.

The inter-Florjanic family duel between defending Champion Rok and younger brother Nac is set to continue, but it is Nac who currently leads the World Championship standings by four points, with Italy’s Roberto Mariani tasked with an enormous task of pulling off a surprise win.

Championship standings:


Jet Ski Club


* Jeremy Poret quickest in Ski by just three-tenths

* Menard and Ortendahl set identical times

Friday, 22 May, CASTRO (Italy): French trio Jean Baptiste Botti, Jeremy Poret and Jennifer Menard completed a clean sweep in a fiercely contest qualifying session in rough conditions in Castro to claim pole positions for heat 1 of the Grand Prix of Italy.

After being tested to their limits in the morning’s free practice session run in horrendous seas, the conditions eased giving the riders some respite as they went out for a split qualifying session, all riders going in Q1 for 15 minutes, the ten quickest going again in Q2, a shortened 10 minute session, in Ski ladies just the top five going into Q2.

The fight for the pole in Runabout was fought out between Botti, Khalifa Belselah and Yousef Al Abdulrazzaq, the trio trading times and places throughout.

All eased through Q1 and it looked as though Belselah had done enough to take pole, but Botti wasn’t done and left it till literally the last second in Q2 to snatch pole position from the UAE rider, with Kuwait’s Al Abdulrazzaq, who was quickest in practice, having to settle for third.

The rider from Porto Vecchio was lying in second spot with the clock counting down and on his final flying lap when the flag to end the session came out, but he [Botti] gave it all he had crossing the line five-tenths faster than Belselah with a 1:41.41s lap and will start heat 1 of Runabout in P1. “That was a little too tight,” said Karujet winner Botti. “The conditions were a little easier on all of us this afternoon and tomorrow who knows. But it will be a good fight. There are many great riders out there.”

In Ski defending World Champion Jeremy Poret came out on top in an equally close session, his best time of 1:59.70s set on his first lap in Q2 was enough to beat off the challenge of Kevin Reiterer by three-tenths, with elder brother Mickael third fastest. “I found practice quite tough the conditions were very hard,” said Poret. “I worked on the bike a little too try to improve one or two things and in qualifying the conditions were better and this suited me. Tomorrow the weather will play a big part but if it is the same it will suit me.”

But it was Jennifer Menard and Emma Nellie Ortendahl who upstaged their male peers in terms of a tight qualifying session, both setting identical fastest times, 2:16.72s, Menard given the pole with a fastest best second lap, Estelle Poret nearly snatching pole from both at the last minute, completing the top three less than two-tenths of top spot. “It is almost impossible but it happened. A bit too close,” said Menard. “Today has been crazy, incredible conditions, very rough big waves and waves on waves. In these seas it is not about the engine it is about technique.”

The Freestylers rounded off the afternoon with Rok Florjancic looking to be in the mood to avenge the defeat he suffered at the hands of his younger brother in Qatar, scoring 87 out of 100 to take top spot, Nac in second on 78 ahead of Italian duo, Roberto Mariani and Alberto Camerlengo.