Dubai 33’s Salem Al-Adidi and Eisa Al-Ali led from pole and fended off a fierce challenge from Team Abu Dhabi 5’s Rashed Al-Tayer and Majed Al-Mansoori to seal an impressive 3.16-second victory in Friday afternoon’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the final round of the 2016 UIM XCAT World Series, at the Abu Dhabi Breakwater.
The two boats were neck and neck throughout the red flag interrupted race, but the Dubai boat managed to fend off the local challenge on two occasions when Al-Tayer and Al-Mansoori tried to use the long lap strategy to their advantage. The two boats were the class of the field, while T-Bone Station’s Giovanni Carpitella and Ahmed Al-Hameli saw off the challenge of Lady Spain’s Joakhim Kumlin and Jay Price to confirm the final place on the podium. The result also gave Dubai 33 the runner-up spot behind the Victory Team in the UIM XCAT World Series points’ standings.
“I guess we must be happy with second position, but the win was the aim from the start,” said Al-Tayer. “We thought we had the strategy mapped out perfectly. We took a long lap before them twice and thought we could nip inside and snatch the lead on both occasions. But, I guess, they were able to carry the speed and momentum down the straight and managed to stay in front. It was a very close race. We were evenly matched for speed.”
Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Nadir Bin Hendi stole a march on Team Abu Dhabi through the opening turns and first two laps before flipping their Generation 2 four-stroke XCAT boat into retirement. The team had been working handling issues with the boat after Emaar Pole Position on Thursday. Carpisa Yamanay failed to start the race. Gold Coast Australia pitted early with technical issues before continuing and engine problems forced the Fujairah Team out of the running.
Team Abu Dhabi is sponsored by Etihad Airways and runs under the patronage of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al-Nahyan, advisor to the Head of State and chairman of the board of directors of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC).
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Dubai 33 headed Team Abu Dhabi 5, Carpisa Yamanay and Victory Team into the parade lap at the start of the final 14-lap race of the 2016 XCAT World Series, but Carpisa Yamanay was forced to return to the pontoon with mechanical issues, as Dubai 33 led from Victory and Team Abu Dhabi after a delayed start. Gold Coast Australia struggled at the rear of the field and was lapped by Dubai 33 in front of the pontoon.
As Gold Coast returned to the pits at the end of the lap and Carpisa Yamanay remained in situ, Dubai 33 edged clear of Team Abu Dhabi, before the race was red flagged on lap three after the Victory Team crew spectacularly flipped their Generation 2 boat, with Lady Spain in third and Spirit of France up to fourth.
Gold Coast managed to return to action after several laps, as Dubai 3 and Team Abu Dhabi jostled for the top spot and Swecat Racing was forced to run a penalty long lap, which eventually pushed the Swedish crew down to seventh position. Engine issues sidelined the Fujairah Team after nine tours of the course, as the long lap strategy played into T-Bone Station’s hands at the expense of Lady Spain.
Spirit of France could not repeat the form shown earlier in the week, but Francois Pinelli and Saul Bubacco reached the chequered flag in fifth place, ahead of Blu Roo, Swecat Racing, Raheeb and a struggling Gold Coast Australia. New Star was not registered for points and was handed a wild card entry, but would have finished in ninth place with the new Victory-built boat.
Teams were permitted to carry out a final official practice session on Friday morning and the stint included time to practice the long lap strategy. Carpisa Yamanay, Dubai 33 and Victory were the quickest three boats on the traditional lap – all three posting times well under 2min 19sec – but Team Abu Dhabi used the session to carry out a few final checks to the set-up before the race. T-Bone Station did not feature, but Gold Coast Australia took to the water in their repaired boat after missing out on Wednesday’s and Thursday’s action. The Australians carded a solitary timed lap of 2min 33.756sec.
The Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) now switches its attention to next week’s three-race UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship meeting that takes place between Tuesday and Friday (November 21-25).
2016 Abu Dhabi XCAT Grand Prix – results (unofficial):
1. Dubai 33 – Salem Al-Adidi (UAE)/Eisa Al-Ali (UAE) – 40min 44.36sec
2. Team Abu Dhabi 5 – Rashed Al-Tayer (UAE)/Majed Al-Mansoori (UAE) – @ 3.16sec
3. T-Bone Station 10 – Giovanni Carpitella (ITA)/Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) – @ 18.04sec
4. Lady Spain 46 – Joakim Kumlin (SWE)/Jay Price (USA) – @ 19.29sec
5. Spirit of France (Yacht) 96 – Saul Bubacco (ITA)/Francois Pinelli (FRA) – @ 44.63sec
6. The Blue Roo (Team Australia) 8 – Brett Luhrmann (AUS)/Pal-Virik Nilsen (NOR) – @ 1min 07.19sec
7. Swecat Racing 2 – Mikael Bengtsson (SWE)/Erik Stark (SWE) – @ 1min 10.30sec
8. Raheeb 17 – Abdullatif Al-Omani (KWT)/Khaled Burabee (KWT) – @ 1min 49.92sec
9. Gold Coast Australia 11 – Tom Barry-Cotter (AUS)/Ross Willaton (AUS) – +4 laps
Fujairah Team 20 – Serafino Barlesi (ITA)/Alessandro Barone (ITA) – +6 laps
Victory Team 3 – Arif Saif Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE)- +12 laps
Carpisa Yamanay 22 –Alfredo Amato (ITA)/Diego Testa (ITA) – DNS
*New Star 9 – Mikhail Kitashev (RUS)/Dmitry Vandyshev (RUS) – @ 2min 09.03sec
*not registered for points