Team Abu Dhabi qualifies sixth in shortened session; pole position for Caccia Engineering
XIAMEN (CHINA): Saturday, October 28: Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Tayer and Majed Al-Mansoori suffered a setback to their chance of claiming the UIM XCAT World Championship title with a seventh-placed finish in race one of the Xiamen Grand Prix on China’s stunning Pacific Coast on Saturday.
Team Australia’s Blue Roo Aussie Brett Luhrmann and his Norwegian co-pilot Pål Virik-Nilsen had dominated last weekend’s two races in Weihai and the series leaders became embroiled in a thrilling tussle with a resurgent Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Nadir Bin Hendi in Al Wasl. Both teams opted to take their second long lap very late in the race and Al Wasl snatched the advantage heading into a final lap where they had to take their last long lap. The Dubai-based crew and defending XCAT champions managed to stay ahead of their rivals to claim the win by just over 10 seconds.
Caccia Engineering’s Alfredo Amato and Daniele Martignoni started the race from pole, were ordered to run a penalty lap for a turn buoy infringement and still managed to round off the podium places, but it came to light after the race that the Italians had not run the penalty lap and they were demoted to sixth after a 60-second penalty was imposed by race officials. Their demise lifted Swecat Racing’s Mikael Bengtsson and Erik Stark into third place.
Victory Team’s Salem Al-Adidi and Eisa Al-Ali ran a penalty lap and remain in second position in the points’ standings, 11 behind the Blue Roo in the unofficial rankings, despite finishing fifth overall. Team Abu Dhabi retains third place in the championship with three races remaining.
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.
Caccia Engineering led the Blue Roo and Victory Team through the first gate at the start of a crucial race for Team Abu Dhabi, which started from sixth position at gate two following the cancellation of Q2 and Q3 qualifying on Saturday afternoon. Victory Team managed to pass the pole sitter on the opening straight and into the first turn to take the lead. The Blue Roo held second from Caccia Engineering, Swecat Racing, Al Wasl and Team Abu Dhabi, although Swecat Racing moved into third as Al Wasl and Team Abu Dhabi took one long laps apiece in the race.
The race-leading Victory Team was under investigation for not staying in lane at the start, but maintained a slender lead from the Blue Roo and Swecat Racing. News filtered through from race control that Victory Team had indeed incurred a one-lap penalty, as Team Abu Dhabi ran a second long lap and began a climb back through the field.
The Blue Roo snatched the lead when Victory took the first of three long laps and Miphere Xiamen moved up to third as rivals took long laps. Caccia Engineering was also under investigation for striking a turn buoy and was issued a one-lap penalty. The Blue Roo maintained the lead into lap eight, but still had to run two long laps in the closing stages of the race. Al Wasl managed to pass Swecat Racing and snatch third place, as Victory Team and the Blue Roo both used lap eight for a long tour of the course. It meant that Al Wasl inherited second position and Swecat Racing held third behind the Blue Roo before slipping behind the Victory Team.
Team Abu Dhabi held eighth place on lap 10 and stood to benefit as other teams took their second long laps. Al Wasl kept the pressure on the Blue Roo into lap 11, but both boats needed to take one extra lap with just three seconds between them and three laps remaining. They both opted to use the last three laps for their second long lap, as Victory slipped to fifth behind Caccia Engineering and Swecat Racing.
Al Wasl gained the lead when the Blue Roo took a very late long run, but the outcome came down to the 15th lap when Al Wasl was forced to take a long lap. Team Abu Dhabi gained one position to finish in seventh place but, in a nail-biting finish, Al Wasl took a 24-second lead over the Blue Roo into the long lap and managed to stay ahead of Team Australia to confirm the victory by the margin of just over 10 seconds.
Practice and qualifying
Weihai-China was rebranded as Miphere Xiamen for the two races and Joakim Kumlin replaced Darren Nicholson alongside Giovanni Carpitella. Alfredo Amato stepped in alongside Daniele Martignoni to replace Diego Testa in Caccia Engineering.
The three championship leading boats, the Blue Roo, Victory Team and Team Abu Dhabi, dominated the first practice session with Luhrmann and Nilsen topping the times with 2min 30.652sec on their fourth lap. Al-Tayer and Al-Mansoori ran for three laps with a best of 2min 32.927sec.
Caccia Engineering (who ran a fastest first lap of 2min 50.805sec) and the Blue Roo were the stars of the choppy Q1 qualifying session on Friday afternoon, but Al Wasl, New Star and Lady Spain failed to make the second qualifying stint along with a non-starting Raheeb. Team Abu Dhabi ran a 2min 54.489sec lap early in the session, finished sixth and just managed to reach Q2.
But race officials took the decision to abort Q2 and Q3 on safety grounds with the wind and waves strengthening. It meant that Caccia Engineering claimed pole position from the Blue Roo, with Team Abu Dhabi down in sixth place at the starting gate for race one.
Al Wasl bounced back from a disappointing Q3 session on Friday to set the fastest time in Saturday morning’s second practice session with a lap of 2min 18.620sec. Team Abu Dhabi ran for three laps in sixth place in misty conditions. Times were over half a minute faster than in the chopping conditions they experienced in Q1 on Friday.
Race two fires into life at 15.30hrs (11.30hrs UAE time) on Sunday.
2017 Xiamen Grand Prix – race 1 result:
1. Al Wasl 7 - Arif Saif Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Nadir bin Hendi (UAE) 37min 28.74sec
2. The Blue Roo (Team Australia) 8 – Brett Luhrmann (AUS)/Pål-Virik Nilsen (NOR) @10.36sec
3. Swecat Racing 2 - Mikael Bengtsson (SWE)/Erik Stark (SWE) @24.73sec
4. Victory 3 – Salem Al-Adidi (UAE)/Eisa Al-Ali (UAE) @31.23sec
5. Miphere Xiamen 10 - Giovanni Carpitella (ITA)/Joakim Kumlin (SWE) @1min 14.53sec
6. Caccia Engineering 22 – Alfredo Amato (ITA)/Daniele Martignoni (ITA) @1min 19.94sec (1min penalty)
7. Team Abu Dhabi 5 – Rashed Al-Tayer (UAE)/Majed Al-Mansoori (UAE) @1min 28.35sec
8. Fujairah Team 20 – Serafino Barlesi (ITA)/Alessandro Barone (ITA) @1min 32.21sec
9. New Star 9 – Mikhail Kitashev (RUS)/Dmitry Vandyshev (RUS) @1min 40.71sec
10. Lady Spain 46 – Roberto Lo Piano (ITA)/Andrea Comello (ITA) @2min 38.05sec
11. Raheeb 17 – Abdullatif Al-Omani (KWT)/Mustafa Al-Dashti (KWT) DSQ
2017 UIM XCAT World Championship – standings after race 5 of 8 (unofficial):
1. The Blue Roo (Team Australia) 8 148pts
2. Victory 3 137pts
3. Team Abu Dhabi 5 116pts
4. 222 Offshore/Weihai–China/Miphere Xiamen 104pts
5. Swecat Racing 2 85pts
6. Al Wasl 7 81pts
7. Fujairah Team 20 71pts
8. Caccia Engineering 22 63pts
9. New Star 9 52pts
10. Raheeb 17 30pts
11. Lady Spain 46 22pts