Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir bin Hendi put the finishing touches to a perfect weekend’s racing with victory in the Dubai Duty Free Speed Cat Run in Dubai on Saturday.
Competing in the second round of the 2016 UIM XCAT World Powerboating Series, the Victory Team duo had already claimed top honours in the race for Emaar Pole Position and then also in the Dubai GP on Friday.
So the Speed Cat Run victory completed their clean sweep of the weekend’s events and saw them extending their lead at the top of the overall Series standings after victory at the Fujairah GP last weekend as well.
Al Zaffain and Bin Hendi now have a 31-point lead over the Swecat Racing team of Erik Stark and Mikael Bengtsson who are second while the Dubai 33 pair of Salem Al Adidi and Eisa Al Ali are third overall, another four points back.
It was Dubai 33 who took on the Victory Team in the final of the DDF Speed Cat Run and came the closest to beating them. Had the race been about 10m longer, it could in fact have been a very different result.
But it was not to be and Al Adidi and Al Ali were, in the end, content with their podium place after finishing fourth and missing out on the podium in Friday’s Dubai GP.
The Victory Team started off the Speed Cat heroics with a win over Abu Dhabi Team 5 (Rashed Al Tayer and Faleh Al Mansoori) in the first round before getting the better of the Fujairah Team (Serafino Barlesi and Alessandro Barone) in the second. They then came up against and beat a fired-up T-Bone Station team (Giovanni Carpitella and Luca Fendi) in the semi-final to book their showdown against their teammates, Dubai 33.
Dubai 33 got the better of Spirit of France (Francois Pinelli and Saul Bubacco) in their first round run before defeating Six (Tomaso Polli and Matteo Nicolini) in the second round and then Team Australia (Brett Luhrmann and Pal Virik Nilsen) in the semi-final.
T-Bone Station, meanwhile, defeated Team Australia in the race-off for third spot to repeat their podium performance of last weekend.
Speaking after the weekend’s racing had come to an end, Bin Hendi said: “We had the same set-up as the Fujairah race and we were very happy with the acceleration. We knew that we got a very good start and the wind was with us so it was great and it was a good fight with our teammates.
“We are very happy with the weekend’s results because there are still a lot of races to come and every championship point counts.”
Dubai 33’s Al Ali added: “When we got to the final, we were very happy to go against Arif and Nadir – the champions. I pushed very, very hard for the win but they did a great job and won – and my team won.”
As for T-Bone Station, who are still running the old Mercury 2.5 EFI engines while the majority of others in the field have switched to the newly introduced XCAT Mercury ROS 400, Carpitella explained that things could potentially have ended differently. “There was a lot of wind and our boat is light so it really affected us. We tried three different lines from the start. The first one, we had to make too much correction.
“The second one was completely wrong – which was the one with Victory Team and the third one was perfect so we got good speed and acceleration and it was fantastic. So, if we had done this line against the Victory Team I don’t think they could catch us. But that’s how it is.”
With the curtain coming down on two sensational weekends of racing, the spotlight now shifts to Europe where the third round of the XCAT World Series will take place in Lugano 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.