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Russian win in Rouen

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Roman Vandyshev, Dmitriy Vandyshev, A. Paniushkin and Andrey Paniushkin steered Nollet – New Star #20 to a 2018 24 heures motonautiques de Rouen win in France this afternoon.

Following our report of Session 1, Session 2 got underway at 07:00 this morning.

While Team Nollet worked on their damaged boats before the restart, Team Abu Dhabi changed the gear casing and began a challenge for the outright lead. By the end of the 10th hour, Team Abu Dhabi was up to second position and running a mere nine laps behind Team Nollet by New Star 20 after repairs to the leading Team Nollet 1 boat had taken a lot longer than anticipated.

It had not ventured out on to the water at the end of the first hour and was down in fifth place.

The leading 20 boat had completed 68 laps since the resumption and Team Abu Dhabi was three laps behind.

The Abu Dhabi crew broke down soon afterwards with a prop shaft issue and had to be towed back to the pits and this opened the door for Team Marine Inshore (28) and Touax Pegase Racing Team (8) to snatch second and third places. The 1 boat was also back on the water in fifth place, but Team Abu Dhabi was now 35 laps behind the leaders.

Team Abu Dhabi continued to press on and the team regained second position behind Team Nollet by New Star 20, although they remained 34 laps behind the leaders at 11.30hrs.

With three hours to go, the gap was down to 33 laps with Touax Pegase a further 16 adrift and the Team Nollet 1 boat 52 laps adrift in fifth.

The gap remained constant until further technical woes befell the Team Abu Dhabi DAC. As Torrente explained:

We were pushing for the win in the morning and then we broke two prop shafts within one hour.
We had to change those and fell back to fourth and climbed back to second.
I had about 10 minutes to go in my last session and then the compressor failed.
I was able to drive it back.
We changed the compressor and the boat got going again.

We were still in second place, seven laps up on third. Luckily we had a decent margin, but we could not afford any problems to the finish.
Because of the breakdown, Rashed Al-Tayer was supposed to be out in the boat and then Rashed Al-Qemzi, after me, to race one hour each, but we could not afford to stop for the driver change and thought we could make it to the end on fuel. It was a case of monitoring it carefully to the finish.

Last year the team completed 678 laps.

But there was to be late drama on this occasion.

As Touax Pegase closed to be running on the same lap as Team Abu Dhabi, the race leading Team Nollet by New Star 20 ground to a halt on the river with a steering issue after an incident involving Navicart Racing (32) and was towed back to the pits with the clock ticking and less than one hour to go.

A 41-lap lead was soon whittled down to 35 but Touax Pegase managed to gain two laps on Team Abu Dhabi under the yellow flag and Rashed needed to push hard over the closing laps.

The outcome of the race was going down to the wire…

With 39 minutes to run, Team Nollet by New Star 20’s lead had dropped to 27 laps, as Al-Tayer managed to sneak through into a narrow lead over Touax Pegase.

But the leading boat was back in the water within a few minutes and rejoined the race with a 24-lap lead and 32 minutes remaining. Team Abu Dhabi had only 30 litres of fuel left for the remaining 25 minutes of the race and nails were biting in the team camp, despite the telemetry suggesting that it would be enough to see out the race.

It was going to be mighty close because you have to cross the finish line by your own power or you get nothing.

There were no late dramas and Team Abu Dhabi eventually reached the chequered flag 20 laps behind Team Nollet by New Star 20 to bring another thrilling Rouen 24 Hour race to a close on the River Seine. But Xtrem Racing 26 crashed while in ninth place in the final minutes.

24 Hours of Rouen result (unofficial @ 16.05hrs):

1. Team Nollet by New Star 20 – 557 laps

2. Team Abu Dhabi 6 – 537 laps

3. Touax Pegase Racing Team 8 – 537 laps

4. Team Marine Inshore – Loutz 28 – 524 laps

5. Team Nollet by New Star 1- 477 laps

6. Tullio Abbate – Principato di Seborga 5 – 443 laps

7. Sun Racing Team 4 – 415 laps

8. Navikart Racing 32 – 390 laps, etc

Photos: Chris Davies

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