Another week, another win for the Victory Team. Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir bin Hendi continued their dominance of the 2016 UIM XCAT World Series with victory at the second round – the Dubai GP this afternoon.
While they didn’t head to the front from the start, an almost perfect long lap strategy saw the pair taking the lead in the ninth lap and eventually powering to a 17-second win over secondplaced Abu Dhabi Team 5.
It had been Abu Dhabi 5’s Rashed Al Tayer and Faleh Al Mansoori who powered into the lead after a sensational start from the second gate.
But the duo just couldn’t build up enough of a lead to keep in front of the high-flying Victory Team who simply blew any opposition away.
The battle for third spot was eventually where all the action was with Swecat, Gold Coast Australia (Tom Barry-Cotter and Ross Willaton) and Dubai 33 (Salem Al Adidi and Eisa Al Ali) all battling it out for the final podium spot. But it was the Swedish Swecat team of Mikael Bengtsson and Erik Stark who finally took it with Dubai 33 struggling with their power steering for the final three laps and Gold Coast losing some power in one of their engines.
Speaking after the race, Victory Team’s manager Ragesh Elayadeth said,
It was exciting. We know our capacity, we know our capabilities so we kept racing and we planned a strategy – how to overtake them [Abu Dhabi Team 5]. We didn’t want to take a risk on the race course so we kept racing and we applied our long lap strategy and came out in front of them.
You have to have a good driver, you have to have a good set-up and you have to have a good strategy also, so everything worked well and we knew we could overtake them somewhere in the middle of the race.
Arif and Nadir are the masters. There’s no other word to describe them. They know what to do. There were no nerves at all. They keep calm, they know when to go for the long laps and when to put pressure on.
It’s because they are confident in themselves – they are the best drivers in the world at the moment. And they’re confident in their boat and in their team so they know they can be number one.
Abu Dhabi Team 5’s Al Tayer was thrilled with their performance after the disappointment of not finishing last weekend’s race, but said a few errors had cost them.
Our start was amazing – we gave everything and found ourselves in front.
It was on one of the long laps that we made a mistake though driving into the sun and had a big jump on one of the waves and lost a lot of speed there.
As for Swecat, Bengtsson was particularly happy with claiming a podium spot for the second consecutive week.
It was very exciting – when we had maybe five laps left we had the Dubai boat really close and we thought they had one long lap to go. But then when it was three, then two to go – we discovered they were on the same lap as us so it was a great fight until the end.
This result is perfect for us. We didn’t think we’d be getting our second consecutive podium when we came here.
With the Dubai GP being moved a day earlier (after high winds and rough seas were forecast for Saturday), there is still more XCAT action to come this weekend.
The one-on-one, drag race-style Dubai Duty Free Speed Cat Run will be contested at 2.30pm tomorrow afternoon, bringing the curtain down on the Dubai GP.
After that, the action then moves to Lugano, Switzerland for the third round of the XCAT World Series from 4-5 June.
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.