Dubai 33 snatched a dramatic last-gasp Pole Position from home side Team Abu Dhabi 5 at the end of the EMAAR Pole Position held off the breakwater of Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) on a warm Thursday afternoon.
Going in with the second best time at the end of second qualifying session, the Dubai 33 duo of Salem Al Adidi and Eisa Al Ali were timed at 2 minutes, 18.258 seconds to pip Majed Al Mansoori and Rashed Al Tayer (2:18.817) in Team Abu Dhabi 5 into second place on the starting grid.
Alfredo Amato and Diego Testa had the third best time of 2:19.062 in their Carpisa Yamamay, while defending world champions Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir Bin Hendi will start off from fourth on the grid.
The same four boats had shown consistency during the second qualifying session. The only difference was that the Italian duo of Amato and Testa had managed to stay clear of the three boats from the UAE. Carpisa Yamamay had been timed at 2:18.919 followed by Dubai 33 (2:19.005), Team Abu Dhabi (2:19.663) and Victory Team (2:20.653).
However, it was the home duo throwing down the marker at the end of the opening session with Al Mansoori and Al Tayer coming in with the best lap of 2:20.256 followed by Carpisa Yamamay (2:20.490), Francois Pinelli and Saul Bubacco in Yacht (2:20.846), Dubai 33 (2:21.058) and Joakim Kumlin and Jay Price in Lady Spain (2:21.694) completing the top-five.
With the battle markers laid out loud and clear with three UAE teams tussling against the Italians in Carpisa Yamamay, the action will now temporarily shift to the exciting head-to-head Dubai Duty Free Speed Cat Run from 3.30 to 4.30 pm.
Multiple defending world champions Victory Team have nothing to lose going into the final round of the 2016 UIM XCAT World Series with an unbeatable total of 129 points after three earlier rounds. However, wide open is the fight for second position in the overall standings with Gold Coast Australia’s Tom Barry-Cotter and Ross Willaton hot on the heels of Swecat Racing’s Mikael Bengtsson and Erik Stark and just eight points separating the two boats.
Also making things exciting are Al Adidi and Al Ali (Dubai 33) and Al Mansoori and Al Tayer (Abu Dhabi Team 5) with an outright win changing overall standings.
On Friday, there will be a compulsory briefing for drivers at 8.30 am followed by a mandatory start procedure practice for the pilots from 9 to 9.30 am. The last official practice session with the long lap open will be from 10 to 11 am followed by the flagging off to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at 3.30 pm.