21 November 2015, Dubai – The fifth round of the UIM XCAT Powerboat Word Series was packed with elation and despair with the Italian team, Videx, eventually emerging as the race winners on Saturday.
Joakim Kumlin and Alfredo Amato outlasted a field that diminished at a rapid rate as half of the 14 teams didn’t make it to the finish line thanks to the massive waves and rough conditions.
Fellow Italian team T-Bone Station (Giovanni Carpitella and Luca Fendi) finished second with Team Abu Dhabi (Rashed Al Tayer and Faleh Al Mansoori) overcoming initial problems and overtaking a heartbroken Swecat team (Erik Stark and Mikael Bengtsson), who broke down on the final lap, for third spot.
Overall Series leaders and defending champions XDubai, who started the race in Pole Position, succumbed to a gear casing fault in the sixth lap of the race, meaning they could not continue. Not only did that mean disappointment for Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir Bin Hendi in front of a home crowd, but also that the Series remains up for grabs with the final race of the season coming up in Abu Dhabi next weekend.
Team Abu Dhabi are now just one point behind XDubai going into that race.
Meanwhile, Saturday’s drama also saw the Six team of Tomaso Polli and Matteo Nicolini taking an underwater dive while leading the race on lap nine but still managing to keep the engines running and making it to the penultimate lap.
That meant they could still claim 12 all-important championship points, which keeps them in third spot overall. Had they avoided the dip and held their lead to win the race, the Italians would now have been leading the Series heading into the final race.
“It was a really tough race. We started very well from the beginning and then Fazza had a problem, Abu Dhabi had a problem and we just kept on going,” explained Kumlin.
“After they dived we had a chance to take boat Six and we were leading the race right after that.”
It was far from smooth sailing from there, however, as the Videx boat’s engine cowling came loose in the closing laps. Had that come off and the engine taken in water, it could have spelled the end of their chase for the race win – the first for an Italian team in two and a half years of XCAT racing.
“We felt it on the last lap so I was really very stressed about it because I felt the boat was going really slowly and really badly,” explained Kumlin. “I was just holding thumbs that it was going to be ok.
“I don’t know what to say. I’m so, so happy about it. Dubai is a really good place to win.”
T-Bone Station’s Fendi was equally thrilled with second spot after a hair-raising start to the race.
“It was more than exciting. I was a little bit scared too,” he admitted. “I have to say, it was really rough and our boat is the shortest so we were sometimes going inside the waves.
“I said ‘I don’t know if we can finish’ so we slowed down a bit to save the boat because it was really rough. I don’t think we would have made it if we had pushed to the limit for 16 laps. And that tactic paid off because those that were really pushing broke the engines or the boat or something. It was our decision to slow down.
“These were the worst possible conditions for our boat but Giovanni is so good at managing this.”
XCAT action now moves to Abu Dhabi for the final, deciding race of the 2015 UIM XCAT World Series from 25-27 November.