With the Sam Griffith Trophy—offshore powerboat racing’s most coveted prize—now in their hands, the newly crowned UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Champions, Darren Nicholson and Giovanni Carpitella have vowed to throw caution to the wind at the season-ending finale in St. Petersburg (Sept. 1-3) and go in search of their fourth win of the season in their 222 Offshore Australia entry.
A hat-trick of wins in Sarasota, Michigan City and the opening race in the Mercury Racing Midwest Challenge in Sheboygan last weekend finally broke the challenge of title rivals Steve Curtis and Brit Lilly in Huski Ice Spritz, with the 222 Offshore pair sealing the deal with a measured performance in race 2 (in Sheboygan), finishing second to claim the title.
Team owner-driver Nicholson, the first Australian to win the Class 1 title, has been quick to heap praise on his Italian throttleman Carpitella and team. “Because I came to powerboat racing quite late in life, I figured I definitely needed a red-hot crew to make up for my inexperience, or otherwise I’d never achieve anything,” he said after describing his first Class 1 world title as "pretty cool."
“Together our crew is exceptional," he said. "Muddy, Robbie, Ali, Marky and Skye all play a huge part. Muddy has great experience, and his input is invaluable and so is Giovanni’s. I believe I’m a better driver now because I was lazy when driving with either Giovanni or Muddy before and now listen to them very closely. Having absolute faith in Giovanni on the throttles is a rare gift I appreciate very much, when driving a Class 1 at 150 mph coming into the corner—it is not for the meek!"
He added: “I’ve won three sailing world championships in the past and Giovanni and I won the XCat last year and now we have the ultimate prize. Giovanni has won a huge amount of powerboat titles, so he’s used to it! We have a ball together and he is a great friend.”
While Nicholson’s rise to the top has been relatively swift, making his racing debut in 2011 and stepping into Class 1 a year later, world-class throttleman Carpitella’s path to achieving his goal began back in 1991, before stepping up to the premiere class in 2002, winning a raft of World, European, Middle-East and Italian titles in Class 3, Class 2 and XCat world title along the way, and finishing on the year-end world championship podium seven-times before deservedly making it to the top step and winning the title. “It’s amazing, a great feeling to finally win the big one,” Carpitella said. “We received a lot of compliments from the other teams and now we think about St Pete and going out and racing without any stress and going as fast as we can."
He added: “Our team has been fantastic all season, working hard on setup, fixing any issues we had and always putting us in a position to fight for first. Darren has been great on the wheel, especially in the races on Lake Michigan which were very rough and hard for both of us, but especially for the driver. We knew the races on Lake Michigan could decide the championship and we didn’t want the fight to go to the last race. We had qualifying under control in the first two and went on to win and go clear, but we still had work to do. In the third race we made a good start, had a great battle with M CON and take the lead for six or so laps and then we saw the big Mystic coming. We thought our fight is not with you for the title and held a steady pace to protect the boat. We kept asking our team manager what the gap to Huski is and then saw them pull out. We pushed again and were getting closer to the leader. To win the race and title would have been great, but we decided not to push or take any risks, finish the race, and make sure of the championship.”
UIM Secretary General Thomas Kurth commented: “We are extremely pleased to see the UIM Class 1 World Championship celebrating a true revival in 2023, with spectacular offshore powerboat racing action displayed in front of an ever-growing audience on-site. Having an Australian team owner and driver together with an Italian throttleman on top of the rankings adds spice to the series, which has found a resounding welcome in the U.S. By attracting new boats and teams for 2024, our promoter partner Azam Rangoonwala at Powerboat P1 is keeping up the pace of taking the UIM Class 1 back to the top of offshore powerboat racing.”
Nicholson and Carpitella have been the class act in a brilliant championship campaign against world-class opposition all running the Mercury 1100 competition engine, in a season that has seen three different race winners, six teams and four manufacturers on the podium as the UIM Class 1 World Championship gathers pace and goes from strength-to-strength since its relaunch last year, with Powerboat P1’s CEO, Azam Rangoonwala, at the helm.