15 May 2014, Dubai – There will be several new faces and team combinations when the UIM Skydive Dubai XCAT World Series resumes in Naples, Italy on May 23. A total of 13 teams will line up in a bid to chase down current Series leaders, Fazza (Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir Bin Hendi) at the Napoli Grand Prix.
Among those will be Mouawad, the boat that finished third in the overall standings last season. However, driving the boat instead of owner Omar Danial will be young Swedish star Joakim Kumlin, who’ll be teaming up with Gary Ballough for the Italy race Kumlin’s season in Team Westerlund came to a premature end at the last race in Fujairah, when the boat flipped and was badly damaged. As a result his services became available, and Mouawad snapped him up, with regular driver Danial occupied in Dubai and unable to race. “Westerlund team has decided to sit the rest of this year out, so Joakim is available to drive our boat,” explained Ballough. “We are confident of his skills and enjoyed his friendship as a fellow racer, thus it will be simple to gel as a team.” The hugely experienced Ballough has claimed just about every title possible in offshore racing, but still believes he can learn from his new teammate. “Yes, I have a lot of experience so I go into racing with Joakim with an open mind that I can always learn from what he has accomplished in his career as a boat racer,” said Ballough. As for taking on defending champions and current leaders, Fazza, who look to be in scintillating form again this season, the American reckoned: “As far as Fazza, it doesn’t matter where they race, they’re really good in any water. I wish them and all the teams a fair and safe race.
“We can only hope for a team that has not been on the podium to be there. All the teams are running for the podium and hopefully each one will get there one day. It’s what is good for the sport. “As for my hopes in Naples, we want to finish with no mechanical failures and put on a good race for the crowd. We have made big changes to the boat and are looking forward to the improvements.” The Napoli Grand Prix takes place from May 23-25.