TEAM ABU DHABI CLAIMS THIRD PLACE AND UIM XCAT SERIES LEAD AS THE ‘BLUE ROO’ WINS IN WEIHAI
WEIHAI (CHINA): Saturday, October 21: Team Abu Dhabi stormed to the top of the UIM XCAT World Championship standings after finishing third overall in the third race, held off the coast of Nanhai New District Bay in Weihai, on Saturday.
Rashed Al-Tayer and Majed Al-Mansoori qualified the boat running out of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) in third position behind Brett Luhrmann and Pål-Virik Nilsen in the Blue Roo and the Victory Team’s Salem Al-Adidi and Eisa Al-Ali.
Even though Team Abu Dhabi played its long lap strategy cannily over the early laps on the murky Yellow Sea course, Blue Roo led the race from start-to-finish, the crew opting to take two long laps midway through the race, to reach the chequered flag 60.34 seconds ahead of the Italian-Australian pairing of Giovanni Carpitella and Darren Nicholson in Weihai-China 10.
The Victory Team never recovered from a penalty lap at the start and were, therefore, forced to run three long laps instead of two. The Dubai crew finished seventh and slipped to third in the championship, three points behind Team Abu Dhabi and a single point adrift of the Blue Roo.
The opening race fired into life much later than planned in the original timetable because of tidal conditions. The Blue Roo led from Victory Team and Team Abu Dhabi, but Lady Spain missed the race after crashing on Friday afternoon. Racing was to be staged over a start lap, 13 normal laps and two long laps. The Blue Roo held the advantage but a flying Caccia Engineering made up a lot of ground in poor visibility, as Victory Team dropped to the rear of the field after incurring a penalty lap. The Blue Roo continued to lead from Team Abu Dhabi, Weihai-China and Caccia Engineering, but the Emirati duo opted for a long lap early on as well and Weihai-China snatched second position and the Victory Team took their long laps. The Blue Roo continued to press ahead, but still had to take two long laps as Team Abu Dhabi took a second long lap as well and, like Victory Team, now had a clean slate to push through the field over the closing tours.
Blue Roo, Weihai-China and Caccia Engineering held the top three places before their long laps were taken into consideration. The leaders decided to take their long laps on tours seven and eight and the order stabilised with the Blue Roo crew maintaining their advantage from Weihai-China (one long lap to run), Swecat Racing, Team Abu Dhabi, Caccia Engineering, while Victory Team were down in ninth position after their penalty lap. Weihai-China took their second long lap and Swecat Racing and Team Abu Dhabi moved up to second and third behind the Blue Roo, only for Weihai-China to return in third place. Team Abu Dhabi duly slipped to fourth from a distant Fujairah Team.
The Blue Roo held on to take a maiden victory and push themselves firmly into contention for the XCAT title. Weihai-China moved up to second and a struggling Swecat Racing was also passed by Team Abu Dhabi, who snatched third overall on lap 13. But Weihai-China was under investigation by race officials as the chequered flag fell on a thrilling race.
PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING
There were two crew changes following the previous weekend’s two races in Zhengzhou. The experienced Australian Darren Nicholson replaced Joakhim Kumlin alongside Italy’s Giovanni Carpitella in 222 Offshore, which was re-badged as Weihai-China 10 for races three and four. Nadir Bin Hendi also replaced Scott Williams in Al Wasl after a couple of practice laps, although Williams posted the all-important lap.
Ten of the 11 teams seized the opportunity to take to the water for the first practice session on Friday afternoon. It was a session to forget for Lady’s Spain’s Roberto Lo Piano and Andrea Comello, who flipped the 46 boat at the end of a two-kilometre straight on their third lap. They were unharmed in the incident and the boat was towed back to the pontoon.
Al Wasl topped the times with an 11th lap of 2min 28.449sec during a marathon stint of 16 laps on the course. The Blue Roo and Victory 3 were second and third, while Team Abu Dhabi ran for just six laps and were registered in fifth position, behind Weihai-China, with a best time of 2min 32.669sec.
Pole Position qualifying was delayed by two and a half hours until the tide was deemed suitable on the Yellow Sea and that put the day’s schedule into reverse. Racing did get underway in murky conditions and Team Abu Dhabi, Victory and the Blue Roo survived tense Q1 and Q2 sessions to reach the three-boat Q3 shoot-out. The Blue Roo claimed pole position with a potent winning lap of 2min 27.061sec after pipping Victory Team (2min 27.582sec) and Team Abu Dhabi (2min 29.526sec) on their first lap of a thrilling session.
Further free practice is permitted on Sunday morning and the fourth race in the series is scheduled for 14.00hrs (10.00hrs UAE time).
2017 Weihai Grand Prix – Race 1 Result:
1. The Blue Roo (Team Australia) 8 – Brett Luhrmann (AUS)/Pål-Virik Nilsen (NOR) 39min 14.61sec
2. Weihai China 10 – Giovanni Carpitella (ITA)/Darren Nicholson (AUS) @1min 00.34sec
3. Team Abu Dhabi 5 – Rashed Al-Tayer (UAE)/Majed Al-Mansoori (UAE) @1min 05.77sec
4. Swecat Racing 2 – Mikael Bengtsson (SWE)/Erik Stark (SWE) @1min 15.13sec
5. Fujairah Team 20 – Serafino Barlesi (ITA)/Alessandro Barone (ITA) @1min 29.33sec
6. Caccia Engineering 22 – Diego Testa (ITA)/Daniele Martignoni (ITA) @1min 39.22sec
7. Victory 3 – Salem Al-Adidi (UAE)/Eisa Al-Ali (UAE) @1min 41.51sec
8. Al Wasl 7 – Arif Saif Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Nadir bin Hendi (UAE) @1min 49.41sec
9. Raheeb 17 – Abdullatif Al-Omani (KWT)/Mustafa Al-Dashti (KWT) @2min 20.09sec
10. New Star 9 – Mikhail Kitashev (RUS)/Dmitry Vandyshev (RUS) @2min 23.96sec
Report by Neil Perkins