FUJAIRAH (UAE): Thursday, April 12: Team Abu Dhabi began its challenge for honours in the 2018 UIM XCAT World Championship with fourth and seventh-placed finishes in race one of the Fujairah Grand Prix on Thursday afternoon.
Shaun Torrente and Faleh Al-Mansoori were classified in fourth in a revised Team Abu Dhabi 4 on their racing debut together, while the experienced duo of Rashed Al-Tayer and Majed Al-Mansoori finished in seventh position in their new American-built MTI, Team Abu Dhabi 5.
Former XCAT World Champions, Nadir bin Hendi and Arif Saif Al-Zafeen, entered in Dubai Police 3 and claimed a restart-to-finish victory from 222 Offshore’s Giovanni Carpitella and Darren Nicholson. Swecat Racing’s Mikael Bengtsson and Erik Stark worked hard for the final podium position and points for third overall.
Maritimo’s Tom Barry-Cotter and Ross Willaton were forced out after flipping their boat on the start lap following a coming together with Team Australia.
Team Abu Dhabi 4’s Torrente said: “It was a really good solid first race for me and Faleh. We made a little mistake on the first lap that cost us the podium but, hopefully, we can still do that tomorrow. The boat performed really well and we gained a lot of experience and were really comfortable by the end of the race. We wanted the podium and got fourth, but that’s good points for the championship.”
Etihad Airways is the official carrier for Team Abu Dhabi that is also supported by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and runs under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. 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 and under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Sultan Bin Khalifa Al-Nahyan, Vice-President and CEO of the ADIMSC.
The racing team runs under the auspices of the ADIMSC and board member and general manager Salem Al-Remeithi, while the XCAT team is managed by Talib Al-Sayed.
The first race of the new season was fought out over one start lap, 15 normal laps and two compulsory long laps and a total race distance of 61.5Nm in outside temperatures in excess of 35°C. The two Team Abu Dhabi boats lined up at the gate in fifth and sixth positions, with Dubai Police ahead of Team Australia, Maritimo and 222 Offshore at the green flag.
The original start was red-flagged and the boats had to line-up for a restart. 222 Offshore made a superb start but Maritimo
flipped out of the race after colliding with Team Australia. Neither Tom Barry Cotter nor Ross Willaton were injured, but it threw the race wide open on the opening lap before the red flag was raised to rescue the crew and remove the inverted boat from the course. Team Australia also retired.
In choppy conditions, Dubai Police headed 222 Offshore from the second restart followed by the two Team Abu Dhabi boats. Dubai Police maintained the early advantage from 222 Offshore, Team Abu Dhabi 4, Swecat Racing and Videx. Team Abu Dhabi 5 took a long lap early and slipped down the field heading into lap six. Dubai Police and 222 Offshore maintained the top two positions through six laps and Swecat Racing moved into third place. HPI 96 was struggling at the rear of the field in 10th.
None of the leading group had taken either of their two compulsory long laps at the start of lap seven, with the exception of Team Abu Dhabi 5, and Dubai Police maintained its advantage from 222 Offshore and Swecat Racing into lap eight. The gap between the top two was 15 seconds after lap nine, with Swecat Racing a further seven seconds behind and heading Team Abu Dhabi 4 and Videx. Team Abu Dhabi 5 was down in ninth place.
The decision was taken to shorten the race to 12 laps and Dubai Police held on to claim the victory from 222 Offshore, Swecat Racing and Team Abu Dhabi 4, but Team Abu Dhabi 5 moved up two places over the closing kilometres to claim seventh position at the expense of Videx.
Qualifying took on a crucial turn for the 12 boats and Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Nadir Bin Hendi claimed pole position with a hot lap of 2min 22.603sec in the renamed Dubai Police 3 boat. That put the Dubai-based crew over 1.6 seconds up on Team Australia’s Pål Virik Nilsen and Jan Trygve Braaten.
Maritimo claimed third position, but the Team Abu Dhabi duo of Faleh Al-Mansoori and Shaun Torrente had to settle for sixth place after topping the times in the morning’s free practice. 222 Offshore’s Giovanni Carpitella and Darren Nicholson slotted into fourth and Rashed Al-Tayer and Majed Al-Mansoori put Team Abu Dhabi’s new MTi on the starting line-up in fifth.
Torrente said: “Our pole position run was okay. We had a better lap but it was messed up by another boat. They just did not see us and cut us off at the very end. We probably could have finished fourth, maybe third, but we are happy and getting used to it. We are missing a little top speed but the boat is balanced and feels good.”
Faleh Al-Mansoori and Shaun Torrente made a stunning start to their partnership by setting the quickest time in Wednesday morning’s opening free practice session. The Team Abu Dhabi 4 duo ran for five laps and carded a fastest of 2min 16.937sec. That was faster that the lap submitted by Team Australia. Maritimo was third, less than a second further behind, and Team Abu Dhabi 5’s Rashed Al-Tayer and Majed Al-Mansoori were fourth in the new American-built MTi. All 12 boats took part in the free session.
Maritimo pipped 222 Offshore to the quickest lap of 2min 22.864sec in the second practice session on Thursday morning. New Star was a surprising third and Team Abu Dhabi 4 and 5 were down in fifth and eighth places.
The final practice session is planned for the slightly earlier time of 10.30hrs on Friday morning and the second of the weekend’s races brings the action to a conclusion from 15.30hrs.
2018 Fujairah Grand Prix – race 1 result:
- Dubai Police 3 – Arif Saif Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Nadir bin Hendi (UAE) 29min 31.45sec 35pts
- 222 Offshore 10 – Giovanni Carpitella (ITA)/Darren Nicholson (AUS) @14.88sec 30pts
- Swecat Racing 2 – Mikael Bengtsson (SWE)/Erik Stark (SWE) @20.52sec 28pts
- Team Abu Dhabi 4 – Shaun Torrente (USA)/Faleh Al-Mansoori (UAE) @24.84sec 22pts
- New Star 9 – Mikhail Kitashev (RUS)/Dmitry Vandyshev (RUS) @43.11sec 18pts
- Fujairah 46 – Diego Testa (ITA)/Andrea Comello (ITA) @57.58sec 15pts
- Team Abu Dhabi 5 – Rashed Al-Tayer (UAE)/Majed Al-Mansoori (UAE) @1min 13.9sec 12pts
- Kuwait 17 – Abdullatef Al-Omani (KUW)/Mustafa Al-Dashti (KUW) @1min23.59sec 10pts
- Videx 22 – Alfredo Amato (ITA)/Joakhim Kumlin (SWE) @1min 31.0sec 8pts
- CRB Offshore/HPI 96 – François Pinelli (FRA)/Rosario Schiano (ITA) @1min 39.86sec 6pts
DNF. Team Australia 8 – Pål-Virik Nilsen (NOR)/Jan Trygve Braaten (NOR)
DNF. Maritimo 12 – Tom-Barry Cotter (AUS)/Ross Willaton (AUS)