Team Abu Dhabi 5’s Majed Al-Mansoori and Rashed Al-Tayer took advantage of ideal racing conditions in a very close official practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the final round of the 2016 UIM XCAT World Series, to card the quickest lap of 2min 19.194sec at the Abu Dhabi Breakwater on Wednesday afternoon.
The duo started their session with less than an hour to go and ran a cautious opener to get used to the course before clocking their best time on their last run. The local crew are confident that they have the correct set-up for the race weekend and are determined to finish the season with a win and second place in the championship.
Practice is important for everyone, but we have tested many times for this race and we are confident that we have the right set-up for the next two days.
We just relax until the last moment and then we have a final check on the engines.
One of our rivals made a mistake yesterday and that maybe puts a little pressure on them.
We hope we have the edge over everyone else.
We will see in the race but Rashed and I will be trying our best.
Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Nadir Bin Hendi made a positive start in the Generation 2 XCAT, running to comply with the new four-stroke engine regulations, and set an opening lap time of 2min 22.227sec, improving soon afterwards with a run of 2min 21.968sec. They finished second with a lap of 2min 20.553sec.
The Dubai 33 crew of Salem Al-Adidi and Eisa Al-Ali were third with a lap of 2min 20.765sec and Spirit of France boat 96 was fourth with a lap of 2min 21.487sec. Only 2.3 seconds separated the top four boats. The Blue Roo (Team Australia) crew of Aussie Brett Luhrmann and Norwegian Pal-Virik Nilsen had been the first team on to the water at the start of the 90-minute session and carded a target time of 2min 26.239sec. They finished the session in seventh place.
Thirteen teams and 26 crew members had spent much of the day at official registration, technical scrutineering and a drivers’ briefing at the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC), before the course laid on by the hosts was opened late in the afternoon for official practice.
Swecat Racing technicians were forced to work into the 11th hour to ready the boat for the all-Swedish crew of Mikael Bengtsson and Erik Stark after their collision in free practice on Tuesday afternoon. They are chasing the runners-up spot in the championship behind Victory Team, along with Team Abu Dhabi 5, Dubai and Gold Coast Australia. The team was working late into Wednesday night in Dubai to repair damage to the hull.
The meat of the racing action gets underway on Thursday morning at 11am when crews vie for top slot in the Emaar Pole Position to determine their starting order for Friday afternoon’s race. This will be followed, at 15.30hrs, by the Dubai Duty Free Speed Cat Run, an elimination shoot-out down a timed straight between boats running in pairs.
There will be a food court, entertainment for children and a traditional display of Arab tents to accompany the racing on both Thursday and Friday at the Abu Dhabi Breakwater. Spectators are welcome throughout the two days of racing.
2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Wednesday’s practice times (unofficial)
1. Team Abu Dhabi 5 – Majed Al-Mansoori (UAE)/Rashed Al-Tayer (UAE) 2min 19.194sec
2. Victory Team 3 – Arif Saif Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE) 2min 20.553sec
3. Dubai 33 – Salem Al-Adidi (UAE)/Eisa Al-Ali (UAE) 2min 20.765sec
4. Spirit of France (Yacht) 96 – Saul Bubacco (ITA)/Francois Pinelli (FRA) 2min 21.487sec
5. Carpisa Yamanay 22 – Diego Testa (ITA)/Alfredo Amato (ITA) 2min 22.753sec
6. T-Bone Station 10 – Giovanni Carpitella (ITA)/Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) 2min 23.007sec
7. The Blue Roo (Team Australia) 8 – Brett Luhrmann (AUS)/Pal-Virik Nilsen (NOR) 2min 23.662sec
8. Fujairah Team 20 – Serafino Barlesi (ITA)/Alessandro Barone (ITA) 2min 24.718sec
9. New Star 9 – Mikhail Kitashev (RUS)/Dmitry Vandyshev (RUS) 2min 35.035sec
10. Raheeb 17 – Abdullatif Al-Omani (KWT)/Khaled Burabee (KWT) 2min 38.994sec
Gold Coast Australia 11 – Tom Barry-Cotter (AUS)/Ross Willaton (AUS) DNS
Swecat Racing 2 – Mikael Bengtsson (SWE)/Erik Stark (SWE) DNS
Lady Spain 46 – Joakim Kumlin (SWE)/Jay Price (USA) DNS