The XDubai team of Nadir bin Hendi and Arif Al Zaffain wrapped up the 2015 UIM XCAT World Series with a masterclass in powerboat racing, leading the Abu Dhabi GP from start to finish and take the overall title for the fourth consecutive season.
Heading into the sixth and final race of the year, and starting in third position after a number of problems in qualifying, Bin Hendi had admitted to a few butterflies, with the Abu Dhabi team of Rashed Al Tayer and Faleh Al Mansoori just five points behind them in the overall standings.
But the vastly experienced defending champions mastered the rough conditions on the start lap to reach the first buoy, and the safety of the flat water, in first place.
The T-Bone Station team of Giovanni Carpitella and Darren Nicholson, who started in second, had come close to challenging them when taking a tight line into the first turn, but could not edge ahead.
Al Zaffain explained there were a few nervous moments in the boat when he thought they were experiencing gear problems at the start.
“At the start we saw the Abu Dhabi Team doing a big jump and we didn’t want to do the same so I put my finger on the right engine trim,” he said.
“I used too much trim and thought I had a problem with the gear box and then Nadir reminded me: ‘Your finger, your finger on the trim!’ So we went down, but it was for this reason that we lost maybe two seconds and for this reason that T-Bone Station came so close to us.
“But then we pushed again and it was good to finish the race without any problems.”
— XCATracing (@XCATracing) November 27, 2015
Bin Hendi said there was much elation in the boat once they crossed the finish and the successful defence of their title was secured.
“It was a feeling we can’t express. We screamed in the cockpit very loudly. We were so hungry for it. Thank God we got it,” said Bin Hendi.
XDubai’s closest challenger in the Series, Abu Dhabi Team, eventually finished third and settled for second overall in the series.
The Dubai team of Salem Al Adidi and Eisa Al Ali, who started in Pole Position in Saturday’s race, had a horrible start and were well back by the first turn but managed to recover to finish in third spot.
XCAT racing will take a short break now as the 2016 season kicks off in March with new venues on the cards. The official 2016 calendar will be announced in the coming weeks.
The Dubai team of Salem Al Adidi and Eisa Al Ali claimed Abu Dhabi Grand Prix pole with minutes to spare with the fastest lap of 2:27.771 in qualifying at the final round of the UIM XCAT World Series on Thursday.
Locked in a three-way battle, it looked like T-Bone Station (Giovanni Carpitella and Darren Nicholson) had pole position sewn up after powering ahead of XDubai (Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir bin Hendi), with around 12 minutes to go with a lap of 2:27.804.
But in a strategic move, the Dubai boat waited until the final five minutes of the session to push for pole.
With the top three boats all within three tenths of one another, Friday’s race is set to be an enthralling affair.
Throttleman Al Ali gave plenty of credit to his driver Al Adidi.
“I am so happy – I have a lion in my boat,” said Ali. “Salem did such a good job on the turns. I didn’t slow down for him. I came full throttle and he made the turns. He’s a lion.”
“We are very happy to be in first place. We are so excited about this very flat water – we love these conditions. It’s fantastic so we knew we had to push and to get this pole to show everybody we are good,” said Al Adidi.
“We knew it was very close. The top three were very close but we knew we could improve more and more every time so we waited until five minutes before the chequered flag and I said: ‘Ok Eisa, let’s go! We will beat everybody’.”
— XCATracing (@XCATracing) November 25, 2015
This result is a far cry from the Dubai boat’s disastrous fourth round of the XCAT World Series just a few months ago in Australia where the duo managed to flip their boat twice during the race weekend.
The conditions there were vastly different, however, compared to the silky smooth water in the UAE capital this week.
With Dubai first, T-Bone Station second and XDubai third, the battle to that first buoy will likely be a battle of note.
Starting in fourth position will be the Abu Dhabi team of Rashed Al Tayer and Faleh Al Mansoori who are currently one point off the overall Series lead.
Occupying the final spot in the top gate will be the Lady Spain team of Jay Price and Shaun Torrente.
Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Tayer and Faleh Al-Mansoori will look to boost their title challenge in the UIM XCAT World Series on Thursday after a frustrating day in the build-up to Friday’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Al-Tayer and Al-Mansoori, who head into final round of the series just a point behind XDubai’s defending champions Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Nadir bin Hendi, were unable to take part in the Abu Dhabi Match Race, staged to mark UAE National Sports Day, because of engine problems.
“Our left engine developed an electrical problem and the mechanics will work on it overnight to get the boat ready,” said Al-Tayer.
“It was disappointing to miss the race but we still expect to be able to fight for the championship, and hopefully win it.”
Aiming to secure a second world powerboat title for Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club in the space of three weeks, Al-Tayer and Al-Mansoori will be looking to earn vital bonus points in the Thursday afternoon Dubai Duty Speed Cat Run, a dramatic head-to-head shootout over a 1km course between the Abu Dhabi Corniche and Breakwater.
Teams carried out their final checks in inclement water conditions today to make their final preparations for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix during official practice and a series of Match Races.
Team Abu Dhabi 5 was not the only absentees on the day, as both XDubai’s Saif Al-Zafeen and Nadir bin Hendi, as well the other crew still in the title hunt, Matteo Nicolini and Tomaso Polli Six, also missed the practice session.
Twelve of the 15 boats were permitted on to the race course for official practice and the Italian T-Bone Station crew of Giovanni Carpitella and Darren Nicholson topped the lap times, despite windy and cloudy conditions and drizzle persisting throughout the one-hour stint.
— XCATracing (@XCATracing) November 25, 2015
Majed Al-Mansoori and Rashed Al-Qemzi in Abu Dhabi 4 ran for four laps and were classified in fifth position behind T-Bone Station, Lady Spain, Dubai and Yachts.
Al-Tayer and Al-Mansoori kept their cards close to their chest and didn’t take to the water in the session
after a minor left engine issue needed resolving.
With gusting winds creating difficulties with the setting of the match race course, the drag race event was delayed and with more storm weather on the way the conditions could have a big bearing on the climax of the XCAT World Series.