Can Team Australia’s Blue Roo hold off the strong Arab challenge
Report by Neil ‘Audrey’Perkins
DUBAI (UAE): Tuesday, November 28: Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Tayer and Majed Al-Mansoori head into the final weekend of the 2017 UIM XCAT World Championship knowing that outright victories or podium finishes are required if they are to stand a realistic chance of claiming the title in the two races that make up the Dubai Grand Prix, taking place on a spectacular new race course to the west of Palm Jumeirah, on Friday and Saturday.
The pair running Team Abu Dhabi 5 out of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) hold third position in the series after three Chinese Grand Prix in Zhengzhou, Weihai and Xiamen. They arrive in the UAE trailing the Blue Roo’s Brett Luhrmann and Pål Virik-Nilsen by 32 points and the local Victory Team’s Salem Al-Adidi and Eisa Al-Ali by 21 points.
Mathematically, it is still easily possible for the Emirati duo to claim the title, but the series-leading Team Australia pairing hit impressive form at the five Chinese races (race six was cancelled) progressed and will head out on to the tricky course by Palm Jumeirah knowing that podium finishes alone may be sufficient for the Australian-Norwegian duo to clinch the title.
A penalty lap imposed at race five in Xiamen was costly for Al-Adidi and Al-Ali and they, like Team Abu Dhabi and Al Wasl’s Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Nadir Bin Hendi, will be hoping to finish the two races on Friday and Saturday afternoon on a winning note. Six boats still have a chance to win the title with 35 points on offer to the winner of each race, 30 for second, 26 for third, 22 for fourth, etc.
The resurgent XCAT series threw up some thrilling action in three manic weekends in China in October and the likes of Caccia Engineering’s Alfredo Amato and Daniele Martignoni and Swecat Racing’s Mikael Bengtsson and Erik Stark were always in the thick of the action. Eleven boats took part in the first three race meetings and the likes of Lady Spain, 222-Offshore, the Fujairah Team, the Russian New Star outfit and Kuwait’s Raheeb are sure to be pushing hard off the coast of Dubai at the season’s finale. Reigning world champion Arif Al Zaffain aboard Al Wasl changed drivers in China. We are not sure what caused the switch but Britain’s Scott Williams, owner of Al Wasl found himself on the subs bench while Arif’s long time partner Nadir bin Hendi took over driving duties.
Abu Dhabi’s Al Tayer summed up the feelings of crews as the finale approached ” We are fully aware of the situation and know what we have to do to give us the best chance of winning the championship. This is a new race course in a spectacular setting but the field is strong and we can expect some very close and exciting racing.”
The racing team runs under the auspices of the ADIMSC and board member and general manager Salem Al-Remeithi. The Dubai X Cat event is organised by the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC), in association with the Dubai Sports Council and the UAE Marine Sports Federation, the Dubai Grand Prix timetable begins with the possibility of non-timed free practice before registration and technical scrutineering take centre stage on Thursday morning (November 30).
Ninety minutes of official timed practice starts at 14.00hrs, while the paddock will be situated on one of the outer fronds of the iconic Palm Jumeirah.
Pole Position qualifying fires into life from 09.00hrs on Friday morning and precedes the first of the weekend’s two Grand Prix, starting at 14.30hrs. Further official practice will be permitted on Saturday morning from 10.30hrs and the final race of the season gets the green light at 14.30hrs.
2017 UIM XCAT World Championship – Standings after race 6 of 8:
1. The Blue Roo (Team Australia) 8- 148pts
2. Victory 3 – 137pts
3. Team Abu Dhabi 5 – 116pts
4. 222 Offshore/Weihai–China/Miphere Xiamen – 104pts
5. Swecat Racing 2 – 85pts
6. Al Wasl 7 – 81pts
7. Fujairah Team 20 – 71pts
8. Caccia Engineering 22 – 63pts
9. New Star 9 – 51pts
10. Raheeb 17 – 34pts
11. Lady Spain 46 – 22pts