First blood in this year’s three-race UIM World Class 1 Powerboat Championship fell to Victory 3’s Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Nadir Bin Hendi, after Tuesday’s opening Grand Prix laid on by the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) off the Abu Dhabi Breakwater.
Team Abu Dhabi 6’s John Tomlinson and Gary Ballough played their lap strategy in a canny fashion, but could not match the Dubai crew on this occasion slowed towards the end reached the chequered flag 1min 50.33sec behind their arch rivals, who take a five-point advantage into the second race on Thursday afternoon.
Italian Giovanni Carpitella and England’s Ian Blacker belied their lack of experience together to produce a solid performance to claim third overall.
A late engine change meant that Rashed Al-Tayer and Majed Al-Mansoori missed the start in Team Abu Dhabi 5 and plans to join the race after the start lap were thwarted when the work took a lot longer than scheduled.
It was a disappointing start to the race week for the local crew.
Nico Huybens and Daniel Cramphorn battled against the clock to prepare the unbranded Aquasport for the opening race. Badged and raced as Maritimo 12 by Peter McGrath and Giorgio Manuzzi in 2009 and then used by Zabo Racing for several seasons, Aquasport 99 eventually missed the opening race, although the crew will be in action over the next three days.
Victory 3 started in pole position from Team Abu Dhabi 6 and Relekta and the run out to the opening turn buoy would be crucial for the three starters after the original start was red-flagged. Victory stole the advantage and began to pull away down the back straight to take a 5.43-second lead into lap two. Relekta began to fall behind the leading duo.
Both 6 and 91 played the lap strategy on the subsequent tour and Victory’s lead grew to 28.29 seconds. Relekta was now a long way adrift with a misfiring engine, as Tomlinson and Ballough fell 46.25 seconds behind their Dubai rivals. The gap fell to 18.87 seconds after Victory 3 took the longer lap.
Victory went ‘long’ again on lap five and Team Abu Dhabi closed the gap to just 2.46 seconds to set up a thrilling duel to the chequered flag. Team Abu Dhabi 5 was lowered into the water the first time just as Victory complete its sixth lap and the crew extended their lead over Team Abu Dhabi 6 to 9.3 seconds. The pendulum was swinging in the Dubai crew’s favour.
Team Abu Dhabi’s team manager Randy Scism decided against putting the number five boat into action because it was too late to score race points (70% of race distance needs to be completed) and mechanics worked at the pontoon to check the engine for Wednesday. By the start of lap eight, Victory’s lead was still nine seconds and it grew to 12.11 seconds after lap nine.
Team Abu Dhabi 6 slowed noticeably over the closing laps and Victory was able to reach the chequered flag with a winning margin of 1min 50.33sec, with Relekta a distant third and lapped by Victory 3 metres from the flying finish.
2016 UIM Class 1 World Championship – Race 1 result (Tuesday – unofficial):
1. Victory 3 – Arif Saif Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE) – 33min 33.81sec – 20pts
2. Team Abu Dhabi 6 – John Tomlinson (USA)/Gary Ballough (USA) – @1min 50.33sec – 15pts
3. Zabo Racing-Relekta 91 – Giovanni Carpitella (ITA)/Ian Blacker (GBR) – L1 – 12pts
Team Abu Dhabi 5 – Rashed Al-Tayer (UAE)/Majed Al-Mansoori (UAE) – DNS
Aquasport 99 – Nick Huybens (BEL)/Daniel Cramphorn (GBR)- DNS