Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente and Faleh Al Mansoori took a major step towards retaining their title in the UIM XCAT World Championship with victory in a dramatic Dubai Grand Prix today.
The defending champions in Abu Dhabi 4 won the first of this weekend’s two races by 20 seconds from Australians Tom Barry-Cotter and Ross Willaton in Maritimo to regain the lead in the title race from the Dubai Police crew of Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir Bin Hendi who finished fourth.
Torrente and Al Mansoori, who began the season with back-to-back victories in Italy, will now look to repeat that feat in Dubai and secure a second successive XCAT world crown by winning race two tomorrow in what promises to be a spectacular grand finale.
They had an early scare today when one engine stopped, but so did the race soon afterwards when Russia’s Mikhail Kitashev and Dimitry Vandyshev in New Star Racing crashed spectacularly in tough conditions on the first lap.
From the re-start, Torrente and Al Mansoori had no more problems, and they go into the final day of the season holding a four-point championship lead over Barry-Cotter and Willaton, with Al Zaffain and Nadir Bin Hendi another two points adrift in third position.
Finishing third on the day, a fourth podium finish in a row, Rashed Al Tayer and Majed Al Mansoori in Abu Dhabi 5 were at the centre of some of the most breathtaking action as they went head-to-head with Maritimo for a succession of laps, finally being overtaken on the last after a superb battle.
The Australian crew had earlier clinched the overall pole position world championship by topping qualifying ahead of the two Team Abu Dhabi boats, but the morning’s calm conditions had been replaced by wind and choppy waters by the time the race got under way.
A jubilant Al Mansouri said at the finish:
We had a problem at the start when one engine stopped.
But after the re-start, we just re-started the engine and got of well into a good position.
We had a good long lap strategy thanks to the radio man and the manager and that was very important.
We have never had an engine problem like that before.
We’re going to check it now but we had a good re-start and from there I just managed the race.
It’s still really close in the championship and we’ll just go for the win tomorrow.
Dubai Grand Prix Race 1
1. Abu Dhabi 4 (UAE) Shaun Torrente / Faleh Al Mansoori 45.37.81
2. Maritimo (AUS) Tom Barry-Cotter / Ross Willaton 45.57.62
3. Abu Dhabi 5 (UAE) Rashed Al Tayer and Majed Al Mansoori 46.10.01
4. Dubai Police (UAE) Arif Al Zaffain / Nadir Bin Hendi 46.43.89
5. 222 Offshore (IT/AUS) Giovanni Carpitella / Darren Nicholson 47.04.90
6. Victory Team (UAE) Salem Al Adidi / Eisa Al Ali 47.14.57
7. HPI Racing Team (IT) Rosario Schiano Di Cola / Guiseppe Schiano Di Cola 47.33.67
8. De Mitri (IT) Roberto Lo Piano / Marco Di Cosmo 46.22.85 + 1 lap .
2019 XCAT World Championship
1. Abu Dhabi #4 171
2. Maritimo 167
3. Dubai Police 165
4. Abu Dhabi #5 138
5. 222 Offshore 89
6. HPI Racing Team 75