The Fujairah GP on April 8 was won by Victory Team who led from start to finish and prevailed after a dramatic race that included a restart. A crash, in fact, caused the race to be stopped when Team Australia, the boat piloted by Brett Luhrmann and Pal Virik Nilsen, who were quickest in both first and second practice sessions, crashed in turn one; the boat collided with Abu Dhabi Team 5 and flipped; as a result, the race was restarted with Team Australia out of the race and with Abu Dhabi Team 5 eventually retiring for mechanical issues.
Victory Team’s XDubai-sponsored boat (Arif al Zaffain and Nadir bin Hendi) took the lead after the restart and captured the Fujairah GP win earning 35 points. They were at the top of the points’ standings after the season opening race and in good position for the title, once again.
Also on the podium was Gold Coast, Australia in second place; even after a start in eighth position, Tom Barry-Cotter and Ross Willaton were able to overtake Swedish team Swecat Racing as they were taking their long lap at the end. Their second place finish marked a superb chance to shine this season in their bid to achieve important championship points. Nevertheless, Swecat Racing piloted by young drivers Mikael Bengtsson and Erik Stark back in its second season proved also itself an excellent competitor for the championship.
Unfortunately, local boats Team Abu Dhabi 5 (Rashed Al Tayer and Faleh Al Mansoori) that mastered the new Emaar Pole Position in the qualifying session had no success at the Fujairah GP race day with a DNF result. The Abu Dhabi Team 4 (Majed Al Mansoori and Rashed Al Qamzi) also was not satisfied with its 10th place finish. Both teams were hoping to redeem themselves in the upcoming GPs after a difficult start to the season on the Gulf of Oman. The Fujairah GP race brought lots of action and adrenaline worth waiting for.
The Fujairah GP was exciting, but so was the race hosted in Dubai on 15 April that once again consisted of 14 XCAT teams that ensured plenty of excitement. Team Australia worked round-the-clock to repair the boat after the collision and be present at the start.
However, it was Gold Coast, Australia that proved to be the quickest boat in the first official practice on Thursday 14. The team was followed by Dubai 33, Lady Spain and last race winner: Victory Team was 4th in the practice to secure the Pole Position on Friday. The Dubai GP was then moved a day earlier due to forecasts of high winds and rough seas for Saturday.
Victory was ahead of Gold Coast Australia and Swecat team, but it was Abu Dhabi 5 to spring to the lead at the start. The sensational start was exciting, but Victory passed the competitors thanks to its strategy in the long lap when, in lap 9, the boat regained the lead.
The third place, in the meantime, was a contest between three boats, Swecat, Gold Coast
Australia and Dubai 33, but it was the Swedish team to prevail.
In the end, Team Victory of Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir Bin Hendi secured the race winning over Abu Dhabi Team 5 and Swecat Racing, Victory is now the leader in 2016 UIM XCAT World Series by winning both rounds. At the end of the race, Victory Team’s manager Ragesh Elayadeth was elated:
We didn’t want to take a risk on the race course so we kept racing and we applied our long lap strategy and came out in front of them. You have to have a good driver, you have to have a good set-up and you have to have a good strategy also, so everything worked well and we knew we could overtake them somewhere in the middle of the race. Arif and Nadir are the masters. There’s no other word to describe them. They know what to do. There were no nerves at all. They keep calm, they know when to go for the long laps and when to put pressure on.
The XCAT Series is underway and off to a good start, as seen from the contests over the past few days. The boats are now heading to Lugano, Switzerland for the third round of the XCAT World Series (4-5 June).
This year’s XCAT Racing Schedule for the championship includes seven stages on the calendar brought by the WPPA, World Professional Powerboating Association, the promoters of the XCAT (Extreme Catamaran) World Series. Which XCAT teams will battle it out for the overall Series title in 2016? And what boats will be troubled by mechanical problems and unfortunate premature finishes to their races? Find out by following the action with DubaiBlog that will provide info and results. To follow the events, visit also the official site at xcatracing.com.