26 November 2015, Abu Dhabi – The Dubai team of Salem Al Adidi and Eisa Al Ali claimed Pole Position for Friday’s Abu Dhabi GP with just minutes to spare by recording the fastest lap of 2:27.771 in qualifying at the final round of the UIM XCAT World Series on Thursday.
Locked in a fascinating three-way battle, it looked like T-Bone Station (Giovanni Carpitella and Darren Nicholson) had Pole Position all sewn up after powering ahead of XDubai (Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir bin Hendi), who were then leading, with around 12 minutes to go with a lap of 2:27.804.
But in a strategic move, the Dubai boat waited until the final five minutes of the session to make their attack and they raced ahead to bag their first ever XCAT Pole Position. With the top three boats all within three tenths of one another, Friday’s race should be an enthralling affair.
Throttleman Al Ali gave plenty of credit to his driver Al Adidi. “I am so happy – I have a lion in my boat,” he said with a smile. “Salem did such a good job on the turns. I didn’t slow down for him. I came full throttle and he made the turns. He’s a lion.”
Al Adidi added: “We are very happy to be in first place. We are so excited about this very flat water – we love these conditions. It’s fantastic so we knew we had to push and to get this pole to show everybody we are good.
“We knew it was very close. The top three were very close but we knew we could improve more and more every time so we waited until five minutes before the chequered flag and I said: ‘Ok Eisa, let’s go! We will beat everybody’.”
This result is a far cry from the Dubai boat’s disastrous fourth round of the XCAT World Series just a few months ago in Australia where the duo managed to flip their boat twice during the race weekend. The conditions there were vastly different, however, compared to the silky smooth water in the UAE capital this week.
Talking about the start for Friday’s race, which is free of charge to the general public, Al Adidi explained: “We will plan our strategy now – depending on the conditions for tomorrow if it’s flat or rough. If it’s flat we are ok. We will fight to reach the first buoy in first position. We know we are good.”
With Dubai first, T-Bone Station second and XDubai third, the battle to that first buoy will likely be a battle of note.
Starting in fourth position will be the Abu Dhabi team of Rashed Al Tayer and Faleh Al Mansoori who are currently one point off the overall Series lead. And occupying the all-important final spot in the top gate will be the Lady Spain team of Jay Price and Shaun Torrente.
XCAT racing continues on Thursday afternoon with the thrilling, head-to-head Dubai Duty Free Speed Cat Run getting underway at 3.30pm at the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club.