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28 February 2015, Fujairah – Hollywood could not have scripted a better race when the first round of the UIM XCAT World Series finally got underway in Fujairah this morning.

Team Abu Dhabi taking on the challenging conditions

Postponed by a day because of high winds and rough seas, there was already an element of drama when the boats took to the water at the Fujairah International Marine Club. And the proceeding 15 laps certainly did not disappoint. At the start it seemed the Fujairah crowd would witness the predictable outcome of defending champions once again leading from beginning to end. Starting in pole position, Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir bin Hendi took an early lead and opened a considerable gap on second-place starters, T-bone Station (Giovanni Carpitella and Ahmed Al Hameli). Meanwhhile, Team Abu Dhabi (Rashed Al Tayer and Faleh Al Mansoori) had a blistering start, moving from fifth to third in the first lap. Fazza maintained their lead until the seventh lap before disaster struck with one of their engines catching fire.

Fazza’s engine on fire

“We don’t know what happened. In the seventh lap we heard an explosion and we were out of the race and obviously very disappointed and very sad but we’re looking forward to the next race,” explained Bin Hendi. “We’ll have to go back an analyse and see what the problem was. You never know what’s going to happen. Something silly might happen to stop your race but that’s racing.” With Fazza out, that left T-bone Station in the lead and set for a certain first-ever XCAT victory before the rough Fujairah sea claimed another victim, with them cruelly losing transmission on the penultimate lap.

Celebration after the race

Having pushed them all the way, the solid Abu Dhabi boat took advantage and quickly passed T-bone Station to take the chequered flag – and a popular victory in their first-ever XCAT season. “The plan was to get a good start and that went very well for us,” said Al Tayer. “I saved my engines because it was a very long race and then I pushed a little bit… I saw Fazza pushed too much and broke an engine or something, and also Giovanni (Carpitella) – I pushed him and eventually they broke too and we continued. “We are very happy to get first place in the first round. Hopefully we can do it in the next round.” The Hoorsenbuhs team of Tomaso Polli and Matteo Nicolini, who had started the race in ninth place, came through to take second spot while Marine Investimenti Sud (Serafino Barlesi and Alessandro) Barone claimed third. In the race that was described as “a war of attrition” due to the tough conditions, only six of the 13 boats that started actually completed the race. As second-placed Nicolini said: “In these conditions you over-rev so many times, you need to control the throttle really well to reduce the number of revs.

Polli and Nicolini on their way to second place

“Also the structure of the boat, electrical, battery can have something happen to them at any moment and then you have to stop for stupid things so everything has to stay together on the boat. To finish the race with the boat like you started it is already a big result with conditions like this,” he added. With Team Abu Dhabi now leading the overall Series, the second race of the season will take place in Dubai from 19-21 March.

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