Gold Coast.Australia proved to be the quickest of the pack in the first official practice ahead of tomorrow’s Dubai GP – the second round of the 2016 UIM XCAT World Powerboating Series.
Tom Barry-Cotter and Ross Willaton, who finished second in last weekend’s Fujairah GP, were the only boat to dip under the 2 minute 37 mark, recording a fastest lap 2:36.573 for top spot.
Second were the Dubai 33 team of Salem Al Adidi and Eisa Al Ali (fourth last weekend) with a time of 2:37.230.
Recording the third fastest time of the afternoon (2:37.306) were the Altman Marine pair of Jay Price and Sean Torrente, who were particularly pleased with their showing considering this was the first time trying out the newly introduced XCAT Mercury ROS 400 engines.
The American drivers competed with the old engines last weekend, where they finished in seventh place and will be looking to finish further up the table in this race.
Speaking about the experience afterwards, Price said,
We had a little learning to do the first couple of laps out. It’s just a completely different drive. The acceleration is different, the way you need to lay the boat over for the turn is different. We’re figuring it out little by little and we’re getting right up there with the leaders for sure. I think we can give them a real run for their money.
The speed I don’t find to be that much different. It’s the acceleration and it’s the power it has to push through the waves. You’re able to run the boat a little flatter and keep control of the boat.”
We are really excited because we feel like we’re right there. I mean we’re not a whole lot off the leader and we can find this time really easily with a little adjustment. And the fact that we didn’t push the boat to its ultimate – we are still learning it – is so exciting.
The Lady Spain team won’t have as much time to learn and make adjustments as originally thought. Due to high winds forecast for Saturday, the Dubai GP has been brought forward by a day – meaning the 14 international teams will be contesting for the title on Friday afternoon.
We’ll have another chance for free practice and then we’ll go to qualifying and then the race. With the race being moved up one day we would have liked to have that luxury of a couple more changes in the set-up but we adapt pretty quickly. I’m lucky to have a really good driver with me and we’ve got a really good relationship. After a few laps we really got together on it.
The XCATs will be back on the water on Friday morning for the all-important race for Emaar Pole Position at 10.30am while the main race – the Dubai GP – gets underway at 3.30pm.
Fans not able to get to the Dubai International Marine Club can follow the Dubai GP via live streaming on www.xcatracing.com
Saturday will then see the head-to-head Dubai Duty Free Speed Cat Run contested at 2.30pm.
Karien is a South African freelance sports journalist and communications / PR consultant.
She has worked as one of three chief writers on the official 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic daily programmes and magazines.