Two F1 pilots, Ahmed Al Hameli and Erik Stark, share the Dubai podium.
As the UAE celebrated its National Day, the result meant that the offshore team running out of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) fell just short in their quest to win the title and finished third in the final points’ standings behind newly-crowned champions Victory 3, and runners-up Team Australia.
Victory 3’s Salem Al-Adidi and Eisa Al-Ali began the race a single point ahead of Team Australia’s Brett Luhrmann and Pål Virik-Nilsen and, even though both boats struggled to make headway in a difficult race, Victory 3 confirmed the world title when the Blue Roo ground to a halt with technical issues on the course. Victory 3 went on to finish the race in sixth position.
Victory 33’s Gary Ballough and Victory F1 driver Ahmed Al-Hameli delivered a stunning performance on their first Grand Prix weekend together to fend off the fierce challenge from Swecat Racing’s Mikael Bengtsson and Team Sweden’s F1 pilot Erik Stark to claim a memorable victory. But the Swedes were overtaken close to the finish by the impressive Italian duo of Serafino Barlesi and Alessandro Barone in the Fujairah Team boat and slipped to third place.
After penalty laps had been imposed and the results were finalised late on Friday afternoon, a mere point separated Victory 3 from Team Australia at the top of the championship standings, and Team Abu Dhabi was 28 points adrift. But the Victory crew had the advantage of starting the second race from fourth place behind Al Wasl, Victory 33 and Swecat Racing. Team Abu Dhabi and Team Australia were sixth and eighth at the second gate for the delayed start to the west of Palm Jumeira.
In tricky conditions and a low sun, Swecat Racing and Al Wasl delivered a spectacular duel through the opening turns with the Swedes snatching the lead and beginning to edge away. Race officials decided not to include long laps on this occasion, and it would be a straight fight to the chequered flag over 10 laps.
Swecat Racing continued to leap over the waves and increased its lead from Victory 33, an impressive Team Abu Dhabi, Fujairah Racing and 222 Offshore with Al-Wasl stopping on the course and Victory 3 slipping to sixth in a dramatic opening lap. Victory 33 managed to find a way to overtake Swecat Racing as Team Abu Dhabi retained third position from Fujairah Racing, 222 Offshore, Victory 3, New Star, Team Australia, Caccia Engineering, Raheeb and Gasbeton.
The thrilling duel between Victory 33 and Swecat Racing continued unabated in treacherous conditions, but Caccia Engineering hit trouble, Gasbeton 96 retired and Victory 3 managed to stay in front of Team Australia and close in on the world title. But the Australian-Norwegian pairing ground to a halt on the course soon afterwards and gifted the Dubai-based Victory Team with the world title on home waters.
Victory 33 continued to lead and Ballough and Al-Hameli held on to claim a stunning victory as Fujairah Racing edged passed Team Abu Dhabi to claim third position and then moved into second near the finish at the expense of Swecat Racing. Team Abu Dhabi came home in fourth place and New Star rounded off the top five.
2017 Dubai Grand Prix – Race 2 Result:
1. Victory 33 – Gary Ballough (USA)/Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE) – 28min 38.29sec
2. Fujairah Team 20 – Serafino Barlesi (ITA)/Alessandro Barone (ITA) – 11.76sec
3. Swecat Racing 2 – Mikael Bengtsson (SWE)/Erik Stark (SWE) – 16.83sec
4. Team Abu Dhabi 5 – Rashed Al-Tayer (UAE)/Majed Al-Mansoori (UAE) – 34.21sec
5. New Star 9 – Mikhail Kitashev (RUS)/Dmitry Vandyshev (RUS) – 1min 03.76sec
6. Victory 3 – Salem Al-Adidi (UAE)/Eisa Al-Ali (UAE) – 1min 36.65sec
7. Raheeb 17 – Abdullatif Al-Omani (KWT)/Mustafa Al-Dashti (KWT) – 1 lap behind
8. 222 Offshore 10 – Giovanni Carpitella (ITA)/Darren Nicholson (AUS) – 1 lap behind
The Blue Roo (Team Australia) 8 – Brett Luhrmann (AUS)/Pål-Virik Nilsen (NOR) – DNF
Caccia Engineering 22 – Alfredo Amato (ITA)/Daniele Martignoni (ITA) – DNF
Gasbeton 96 – François Pinelli (FRA)/Lorenzo Bacchi (ITA) – DNF
Al Wasl 7 – Arif Saif Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Nadir bin Hendi (UAE) – DNF
Lady Spain 46 – Roberto Lo Piano (ITA)/Giampaolo Montavoci (ITA) – DNS
2017 UIM XCAT World Championship – Final Standings:
1. Victory 3 – 174pts
2. The Blue Roo 8 (Team Australia) – 158pts
3. Team Abu Dhabi 5 – 153pts
4. Swecat Racing 2 – 137pts
5. 222 Offshore/Weihai–China/Miphere Xiamen – 120pts
6. Fujairah Team 20 – 119pts
7. Al Wasl 7 – 116pts
8. New Star 9 – 81pts
9. Caccia Engineering 22 – 71pts
10. Victory 33 – 65pts
11. Raheeb 17 – 48pts
12. Lady Spain 46 – 22pts
13. Gasbeton 96 – 4pts
Report : Audrey ‘Neil’ Perkins