Al Wasl’s Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Nadir Bin Hendi played their long lap strategy to perfection in Dubai today.
They reached the chequered flag 7.3 seconds ahead of Victory 33’s one-off partnership of American Gary Ballough and Emirati Ahmed Al-Hameli, who started the race from pole position and led for long periods.
Arif al Zaffein said after:
We had a good start, but especially we pushed to the limit for the entire race.
The choice of the right time for the long laps, helped our team manager on the radio, did the rest.
But this success couldn’t be possible without my ‘brother’ (Nadir bin Hendi).
You can’t say Arif without Nadir, and you can’t say Nadir without Arif.
Salem Al-Adidi and Eisa Al-Ali in Victory Team 3 shadowed their team-mates at the start of a race where the second Victory boat had been introduced to bolster the Dubai team’s chances of retaining the XCAT title.
Victory 3 were pipped to third position on the final lap by Swecat Racing’s Mikael Bengtsson and Erik Stark, although they remain firmly in contention to win the title on Saturday.
Championship leaders Team Australia were forced to change to the old Lady Spain boat to ensure that they started the race after their morning accident.
Al Wasl started well but Victory 33 held the line through the opening turns to maintain the advantage from Al Wasl and Victory 3.
Team Abu Dhabi also made a good start but 33 began to edge away from their rivals and Team Abu Dhabi opted for an early long lap.
Caccia Engineering held fourth position and the leaders held station through four laps until Victory 3 took a long lap and Fujairah Team moved into fourth. Caccia Engineering, Swecat and Gasbeton held fifth, sixth and seventh positions. Team Abu Dhabi had work to do in eighth and Team Australia (badged as Lady Spain) were 10th.
Victory 33 stayed out in front as the race progressed through seven laps from Al Wasl, Victory 3, Caccia Engineering and Swecat Racing, but long lap strategies came into play soon afterwards and Al Wasl snatched the lead from Victory 33 and Victory 3 with New Star, Swecat Racing, Caccia Engineering, Fujairah Team, 222 Offshore, Team Abu Dhabi and Team Australia running behind with a little over four laps to run.
Caccia Engineering slipped back to ninth after incurring a one-lap penalty, as Al Wasl maintained a five-second advantage over Victory 33 and continued to edge away from Victory 3.
Caccia Engineering then incurred a second lap penalty for another course infringement and the victorious Al Wasl reached the chequered flag ahead of Victory 33, but a late long lap by Victory 3 meant that they were passed in the closing metres by Swecat Racing for third place.
Team Australia were eventually classified in 8th place.
Those points could be vital when they go head-to-head with Victory 3 tomorrow at 10.30 GMT to decide the outcome of the championship.
2017 UIM XCAT World Championship – Race 7
2017 UIM XCAT World Championship – standings after race 7 of 8
1. Victory 3 159pts
2. The Blue Roo (Team Australia) 8 158pts
3. Team Abu Dhabi 5 131pts
4. Al Wasl 7 116pts
5. Swecat Racing 2 111pts
6. 222 Offshore/Weihai–China/Miphere Xiamen 110pts
7. Fujairah Team 20 89pts
8. Caccia Engineering 22 71pts
9. New Star 9 63pts
10. Raheeb 17 36pts
11. Victory 33 30pts
12. Lady Spain 46 23pts
13. Gasbeton 96 4pts