Victory 3 crewed by Salem Al-Adidi and Eisa Al-Ali won the opening race of the 2017 UIM XCAT World Championship on Zhengzhou’s Longhu Lake on Saturday.
Two Emirati teams, Victory and Team Abu Dhabi, (Rashed Al-Tayer and Majed Al-Mansoori) had dominated the pole position qualifying sessions as well, but the Victory 3 benefited from their pole position to finish the 14-lap race 23.4 seconds in front of the crew running out of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC).
Salem al Adidi said after his first win of the season:
We are really satisfied with this result, we worked hard to get prepared for the season.
After the pole position Eisa (al Ali) and me knew it was a matter of controlling the boats behind us, but it was tough because Abu Dhabi was pushing very hard.
Rashed al Tayer of Team Abu Dhabi commented:
We have scored a good result today and we are satisfied with the good points we gained for the championship.
But tomorrow we will race for the first place and we know we have the potential.
The Italian duo of Diego Testa and Daniele Martignoni were the surprise package of the first of six XCAT races in the People’s Republic in the space of three weeks.
They guided Caccia Engineering 22 to the final slot on the podium and finished over 16 seconds in front of the Blue Roo, crewed by Aussia Brett Luhrmann and Norway’s Pal-Virik Nilsen.
Martignoni was humble:
Most part of this victory is due to Diego, I consider myself still on a learning curve so I know I still have to gain experience.
But with his skills we were able to take a great and unexpected podium finish.
Diego Testa was thrilled:
This victory is merit of our fantastic team, who could fix the boat after the engine failure we had yesterday, and of Alfredo (Amato, team manager and radio man), whose perfect strategy with the long laps gave us the chance to take the position over Team Australia.
The Swedish pairing of Mikael Bengtsson and Erik Stark rounded off the top five in Swecat Racing.
Race one marked an inauspicious start to the new XCAT season for four-time champion Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and his new British team-mate Scott Williams in Al-Wasl 7.
The pair were sidelined after two laps of the race.
Qualifying and practice
Race qualifying was split into three sessions. All 11 boats took to the water for Q1, but the Fujairah Team was disqualified under the new regulations for fielding a boat that was under the weight restriction of 2,400kg.
Team Abu Dhabi 5 ran for seven laps and carded the best time of the session – a last tour of 2min 12.357sec to storm through to Q2. Lady Spain was a mere half a second behind and Victory 3 was third.
The Fujairah Team was again omitted from the six-boat Q2 results sheet in a session where Team Abu Dhabi 5 came out on top again with a solitary lap of 2min 11.353sec from Victory 3, the Blue Roo and 222 Offshore.
The fastest three made it through to Q3 and Victory 3 stole a march on Team Abu Dhabi 5 and the Blue Roo to claim pole position with a winning lap of 2min 10.266sec. Al-Tayer and Al-Mansoori were second with 2min 12.129sec and the Australian-Norwegian pairing of Brett Luhrmann and Pal-Virik Nilsen rounded off the timings with a 2min 13.188sec lap to claim third place. 222 Offshore and Lady Spain were fourth and fifth from their Q2 times.
Team Abu Dhabi made a strong start in Friday morning’s first practice session and Al-Tayer and Al-Mansoori slotted into second position behind Victory 3’s Salem Al-Adidi and Eisa Al-Ali, who ran a best lap of 2min 12.516sec. Swecat Racing, Lady Spain and 222 Offshore rounded off the top five. The Blue Roo, Raheeb, New Star, the Fujairah Team, Al-Wasl and Caccia Engineering completed the list of 11 boats who took to the water.
Further official practice will be permitted from 11.00hrs on Sunday morning and precedes the second Zhengzhou Grand Prix starting at 14.30hrs (10.30hrs UAE time).
2017 Zhengzhou Grand Prix – race 1 result:
1. Victory 3 – Salem Al-Adidi (UAE)/Eisa Al-Ali (UAE) 32min 35.68sec
2. Team Abu Dhabi 5 – Rashed Al-Tayer (UAE)/Majed Al-Mansoori (UAE) @23.49sec
3. Caccia Engineering 22 – Diego Testa (ITA)/Daniele Martignoni (ITA) @37.68sec
4. The Blue Roo (Team Australia) 8 – Brett Luhrmann (AUS)/Pal-Virik Nilsen (NOR) @53.34sec
5. Swecat Racing 2 – Mikael Bengtsson (SWE)/Erik Stark (SWE) @1min 23.86sec
6. Fujairah Team 20 – Serafino Barlesi (ITA)/Alessandro Barone (ITA) @1min 28.11sec
7. 222 Offshore 20 – Giovanni Carpitella (ITA)/Joakhim Kumlin (SWE) @1min 37.21sec
8. New Star 9 – Mikhail Kitashev (RUS)/Dmitry Vandyshev (RUS) 3. Fujairah Racing @2min 11.12sec
9. Raheeb 17 – Abdullatif Al-Omani (KWT)/Mustafa Al-Dashti (KWT) 2. Al&Al 1 lap behind
DNF. Al Wasl 7 – Arif Saif Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Scott Williams (GBR) retired – after lap 2
DNS. Lady Spain 46 – Roberto Lo Piano (ITA)/Andrea Comello (ITA)
Photos: Raffaello Bastiani