The Team Abu Dhabi 5 crew of Rashed Al-Tayer and Faleh Al-Mansoori shadowed the Victory Team crew of Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Nadir bin Hendi from the opening lap to finish third overall after a pulsating Lugano Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon.
The runaway UIM XCAT World Series leaders snatched the lead when the pole-sitting Gold Coast Australia crew of Tom-Barry Cotter and Ross Willaton made a poor start and Al-Zafeen and Bin Hendi stole a march on their rivals to hit the front. Their Team Abu Dhabi rivals delivered a professional performance without taking undue risks to collect valuable championship points for third place after being passed on the penultimate lap by a flying Gold Coast Australia, who had dropped as low as seventh earlier in the race.
Al-Zafeen and Bin Hendi extended their series lead with a third successive win after using the three-long lap strategy to their advantage, as the race finished in heavy rain with Team Australia and Dubai rounding off the top five.
“It’s always nice to claim a podium finish, but we are a little disappointed to lose out on second place right at the end with the long lap strategy,” said Al-Tayer. “Saying that, this is another podium finish at a fantastic new venue for XCAT racing.”
Lady Spain’s Jay Price and Joakhim Kumlin suffered a testing accident involving Swecat Racing prior to the race start and both teams were fighting against the clock to ready their boats for the race. After a forced restart, Gold Coast Australia headed out from pole position for the first time in tricky water conditions, but Lady Spain could not make it on time and their demise promoted Team Abu Dhabi 5 into second place and Victory Team 3 into third for the green flag at the start of the 17-lap race.
Gold Coast made a poor start and this enabled the Victory Team to snatch the early lead from Team Abu Dhabi and Team Australia. Three long laps were included in the schedule, as Victory Team began to edge clear of Team Abu Dhabi. Dubai and Gold Coast Australia opted to take the first of their long laps soon after the start.
Victory Team extended its lead over Team Abu Dhabi to seven seconds through lap four, although none of the leaders had yet opted for the first of the mandatory three long laps. Carpisa Yamamay incurred a one-lap penalty for destroying a turn buoy and lost out on the battle with the Fujairah Team for fourth place.
Both Victory Team and Team Abu Dhabi opted for the first of their long laps together. Victory Team maintained the lead, but Team Abu Dhabi rejoined behind Team Australia and began to cede further time to the race leaders. Victory Team opted for a second long lap, as Team Abu Dhabi snatched the outright lead for the first time albeit temporarily until they also took a second long lap on the 10th tour of the course. Gold Coast Australia passed Team Australia to snatch third place.
Team Abu Dhabi ran a final long lap on the 13th tour and they rejoined some distance behind Victory Team, although the Dubai crew took their third long lap on the next tour and maintained the lead with Gold Coast Australia still needing to take a third long lap. The Australians rejoined in front of Team Abu Dhabi and deprived the Emirati duo of second place at the 11th hour, as Victory Team confirmed a third successive win.
Team Abu Dhabi 5 lost out to the Victory Team in an all-UAE final for the Dubai Duty Free Speed Cat Run late on Saturday afternoon. Al-Tayer and Al-Mansoori had disposed of Dubai 33’s Salem Al-Adidi and Eisa Al-Ali in the first heat and then got the better of T-Bone Station’s Giovanni Carpitella and Roberto Lo Piano to reach the semi-final.
The Abu Dhabi crew overcame Team Australia’s Pal-Virik Nilsen and Brett Luhrmann to reach the showdown with the Victory Team, after their Dubai rivals had knocked New Star’s Shaun Torrente and Mikhail itashev out in their semi-final.
Team Abu Dhabi is sponsored by Etihad Airways and runs under the patronage of His Highness Dr. Sheikh 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 (ADIMSC).
Teams now have over three months before the fourth round of the UIM XCAT World Series visits Seoul in South Korea for the first time on September 23-25, although Team Abu Dhabi’s attention now switches to the forthcoming European races in the prestigious UIM F1 H2O World Championship.
2016 Lugano Grand Prix – result (unofficial):
1st. Victory Team
2nd. Gold Coast Australia
3rd. Team Abu Dhabi 5
4th. Team Australia