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Rusty Wyatt Shocks Racing with Win in F1H2O Debut in Indonesia



It sure didn't take long. Canadian rookie Rusty Wyatt stunned racing by winning his debut F1H2O Series race in Pertamina, Indonesia on Sunday.


The Grand Prix of Indonesia was also the inaugural event of the 2024 season, meaning Wyatt already sits firmly atop the leaderboard.


In a race recap with F1H2O, Wyatt was straight to the point: "Ecstatic. It was a 30-lap race, that’s for sure, and I started to back off a bit. The water was getting pretty nasty. We had a bit of gap in between each other and I was happy with third but I saw Jonas start breaking down and Stark was having an issue and I held it wide open around the outside and there we were. Being the only Canadian to ever win a UIM F1H2O race is the next level. I will be going home super happy. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”


Wyatt signed as the number one driver for Sharjah Team, based in the UAE, in only January of this year. The Emirate recently took over American Scott Gillman’s team, Gillman Racing, which was bought by Sharjah Marine, a company representing the Sharjah International Sports Club. Gillman, a four-time, UIM F1 World Champion, has been retained as Team Manager, as has Sharjah's second driver, Filip Roms. This gave Wyatt little time to not only adjust to F1H2O's boats, but also gather as much seat time as possible in training.


In a storybook ending to his debut race, Wyatt was in third place on the final lap before a series of mishaps vaulted him to the lead as the checkered flag flew.

 

The Canadian racer headed into the final lap behind defending world champion Jonas Andersson and his rival Erik Stark. But Andersson slowed with a fire onboard partway through the final lap, allowing Stark to close the gap and set up a frantic finish.

 

While Andersson and Stark were jostling for the lead, Stark also ran into mechanical issues and lost speed. That allowed Wyatt to take an outside line and steal the victory by just 0.973 seconds.



The Innisfil, Ontario driver now has a four-point lead over Stark in the standings, with Andersson seven points behind in third. Wyatt’s shocking victory also deprived Andersson of a 15th career Grand Prix win and a fifth in succession on the 300th Grand Prix in the 43-year history of the UIM F1H2O World Championship, according to F1H2O.


Runner-up Stark told F1H2O, “It was brutal. There was a misunderstanding at the start and, luckily, we did a restart and I made an amazing start and I catch Jonas (Andersson). We had a really good battling for half a lap and I took him. But it was such a bad luck that someone crashed, so it was yellow-flagged and I needed to go back to my starting position. After that, it was basically following him (Jonas) in the race. I saw he had some problems in the end. I was catching him and then I passed him but I had some technical issue on the last straight..”


Andersson also gave his take on the dramatic finish, stating: “The start was a mess. There was a problem with the start light. I think it was only me and Erik (Stark) who understood it was not a start. Then we had the restart. I had some issues with the boat from the beginning. It was not fast today. In the end we start to get fire in the boat. I am really lucky to be third today. I am thankful to be third…”


Andersson and Stark lined up in first and second place for the start in front of thousands of spectators on Lake Toba, followed by Wyatt and fellow rookie Stefan Arand.


The one hour warm-up session earlier in the day gave each competitor a chance to gauge the challenging water conditions and make a strategy for the initial start.

But with a jagged start that would have to be repeated, strategies quickly fell apart. Several drivers at the rear of the field jumped the gun and left the starting pontoon before the lights went off. As a result, all boats were called back for a restart.

For the first portion of the race, Andersson and Stark predictably battled for the lead, although Wyatt would make his way to third by the halfway point at lap 15. Stark would also set the fastest lap of the day at just 1 min 00.606 sec.


With 5 laps to go, Wyatt began to close the gap but was likely headed for a third place finish until the steady effects of challenging water conditions began to shake things up.


Andersson was holding onto a 2.5 second lead until the final lap when a fire aboard forced him to ease off the throttle. Stark quickly closed the gap and went neck and neck with Andersson, until he too suffered mechanical failure.


This gave Wyatt a clear line on the outside, which he zipped through to steal the victory from two longtime veterans and kickstart his F1H2O career.


The next race on the F1H2O schedule is the Grand Prix of Binh Dinh in Vietnam on March 29th-31st.


You can watch a race recap in the video below:


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