21 March 2015, Dubai – If Round 1 was all about outlasting the challenging conditions in Fujairah, round two of the UIM XCAT World Series, which took place in Dubai today, was all to do with strategy and speed. After one of the most exciting XCAT races to date that even had the race commentator losing his voice, it was last year’s Series champions XDubai (Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir bin Hendi) who prevailed to take top honours. And once again it was the T-bone Station team of Giovanni Carpitella and Ahmed Al Hamli who left disappointed, after leading the race for much of the afternoon. The T-bone boat had a blistering start to power ahead of XDubai, who started on poll, only to be called back for a restart after Air Team were adjudged to have jumped the gun.
Carpitella and Al Hamli managed to do it a second time though, getting the edge on XDubai to take the lead on the first lap. XDubai then took the strategic decision to complete their obligatory long lap immediately and steadily worked their way back up through the field closing the gap on T-Bone Station and Fujairah winners Abu Dhabi (Rashid Al Tayer and Faleh Al Mansoori) who were then in first and second spot and yet to take their long laps. They left it a bit long perhaps, and only took the compulsory detour on the third last lap. T-Bone still managed to come out in front of the chasing XDubai but only just, with Abu Dhabi relegated to third. And the defending Series champions proved too strong, manoeuvring their way into the lead on the penultimate lap, much to the cheering crowd’s delight. By that stage T-Bone had pushed as hard as they could and a problem with the fuel feed to one of their engines saw them dropping out of contention completely, eventually spluttering across the line in ninth place. Abu Dhabi took second spot to ensure they maintain their lead at the top of the Series standings with the Dubai team of Salem Al Adidi and Eisa Al Ali completing the all-UAE podium. Mouawad (Gary Ballough and Joakim Kumlin) were fourth over the line with Lady Spain (Jay Price and Roberto Lo Piano) in fifth spot. “We were pushing like crazy – we wanted to win and that’s how it happened – we won,” said a thrilled Bin Hendi afterwards. “We had a problem with the right engine at the start but we were able to keep pushing. At the start number 10 [T-bone Station] was a bit faster by two or three miles and they got in front of us. So then we both made the decision to take the long lap and just said we have to work hard, which we did. We were just pushing like crazy the whole way,” he added. Al Tayer, meanwhile, admitted the Abu Dhabi Team may have got their strategy a little wrong. “We should have done the long lap earlier,” he said.
“It was a very tough race – all the boats are the same speed so it was very close but it was a great race. “We are happy with the points to stay in the lead in the Series but there are still six more races to go.” A completely hoarse Al Ali, meanwhile, was stunned by the Dubai team’s third spot, having started the race from 11th place. “It was so much fun,” he gasped. “I can’t believe that we finished third.” With Abu Dhabi still at the top of the overall rankings, Dubai have jumped up to equal second after this weekend’s performance with 49 points – a position they currently share with Victory Team teammates XDubai. XCAT racing now moves to Europe for the third and fourth rounds, with the next race taking place in May.