Victory Team continue to be in contention for record sixth world crown in UIM XCAT World Championship
Defending world champions Arif Al Zafein and Nader Bin Hindi powered Al Wasl to an emphatic win in the bargain nearly pulling Victory Team towards a record sixth world crown at the end of the first race of the Dubai Grand Prix – the final round on the 2017 UIM XCAT World Championship off The Palm Jumeirah, on Friday.
Winners of the past five world championships, Al Zafein and Bin Hindi have entered with a new team this season after parting ways with five-time defending world champions Victory Team. Following a slow start to the season in the first three races of the total eight, Al Wasl took third place in Weihai followed by a win in the last race held in Xiamen to be sixth in the overall standings.
Australia’s Brett Luhrmann and Pal Virik Nilsen in The Blue Roo were in pole position for a maiden world title as they arrived in Dubai with 148 points at the top, followed by the Victory Team pair of Salem Al Adidi and Eisa Al Ali in second place with 137 points and Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashid Al Tayer and Majed Al Mansouri (116).
However, fate intervened during Friday morning’s pole position run as The Blue Roo flipped to be towed away. Luhrmann and Nilsen re-entered with a borrowed boat from the Lady Spain team. But the set-up and propeller was not the most ideal as the Australians ended with ten points following an eighth spot to hand over a one-point lead to Al Adidi and Al Ali – who finished in fourth and take their tally up to 159 points.
In Friday’s action, Al Wasl bid their time and snatched the lead on the sixth lap when race leaders Victory 33 [Ahmad Al Hameli and Gary Ballough on board] went for their first long lap. After that it was Al Wasl all the way as they signed off the second mandatory long lap with a strong win ahead of Victory 33 and Mikael Bengtsson and Erik Stark in Swecat Racing.
Dr Raffaele Chiulli, President of UIM was accompanied by Mohammad Hareb, Ceo of DIMC, Huraiz Bin Huraiz, Chairman of UAE Marine Sports Federation and Race Director Hazem Al Qamzi at the presentation of trophies after the race.
“This is our home race and it is just right that we win it. I am so proud of this team as we are like one big family trying to achieve a singular goal of winning,” Al Zafein told Gulf News.
“We have had problems all along, but we stuck together and now everything is coming through. This is a 2008 manufactured boat and the steering broke during the pole position run. But our mechanics did a fantastic job in less than an hour and proved that old is gold,” he added.
Saturday’s final race of the season will now turn out into a winner has it all with Victory Team being chased down for the title by The Blue Roo. Action will get under way at 2.30 pm at the western end of The Palm.
Overall standings at the end of the first race of the Dubai Grand Prix – the final round of the 2017 UIM XCAT World Championship held off The Palm:
1. Victory 3 (Salem Al Adidi/Eisa Al Ali -159 pts);
2. Team Australia (Brett Luhrmann/Pal Virik Nilsen – 158);
3. Team Abu Dhabi (Rashid Al Tayer/Majid Al Mansouri – 131);
4. Al Wasl (Arif Al Zafein/Nader Bin Hindi – 116);
5. Swecat Racing (Mikael Bengtsson/Erik Stark – 111);
6. 222 Offshore (Giovanni Carpitella/Darren Nicholson – 110);
7. Fujairah Team (Serafino Barlesi/Alessandro Barone – 89);
8. Caccia Engineering (Daniele Martignoni/Alfredo Almato – 71);
9. New Star (Mikhail Kitashev/Dmitry Vandyshev – 63);
10. Raheeb (Abdul Latif Al Omani/Moustafa Al Dashti – 36);
11. Victory Team 33 (Ahmad Al Hameli/Gary Ballough – 22);
12. Lady Spain (Roberto Lo Piano/Giampaolo Montavoci – 22);
13. Gasbeton (Francois Pinelli/Lorenzio Bacchi – 4).