25 May 2014, Naples, Italy – The dream finish scenario that Naples resident Alfredo Amato had described the day before today’s race was not to be at the Napoli Grand Prix – the third round of the UIM Skydive Dubai XCAT World Series this afternoon. After starting in pole position, Amato and Marco Pennesi missed a buoy and were handed a penalty long lap from which they struggled to recover, eventually finishing down in eighth place.
But the massive, local crowd was nevertheless given plenty to celebrate as two other Italian teams, Marine Investimenti Sud (Serafino Barlesi and Alessandro Barone) and T-Bone Station (Luca Fendi and Giovanni Carpitella) made it onto the podium in second and third respectively. Neither of them, however, could catch the imperious Fazza team of Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir Bin Hendi, who started the race in second spot but took the lead on the first lap. And despite fairly serious steering problems from the fourth, the duo managed to hold onto the lead for their third consecutive victory to further extend their lead at the top of the overall Series standings.
“It was very difficult for us because we started well but after four laps we had a problem with the steering,” admitted Al Zaffain afterwards. “I think something happened in the oil system. But we tried to continue together and Nadir really helped me with the steering because the boat was going left and right. We just tried to do our best to make it to the finish which we did and stayed in front so I am very happy,” he added. Barlesi, meanwhile, was thrilled with his podium finish. “The set up was perfect today. We have a new boat with short propellers and this meant we were very fast,” he said after the race.
“We were also able to understand the course. There are sometimes big waves with the ferries passing by but we were able to cope with that. “We are very happy because we are a new combination in the boat and we’re getting along very well. We are extremely proud to be on the podium in Italy. Allesandro is from Messina and I am from Rome and here in between the two cities, we are on the podium,” he added. The trophies were presented by Argentinean football legend Diego Maradona, who earlier in the day got his first taste of driving an XCAT powerboat. Maradona, who is hailed as a hero in Naples after guiding the city’s football team to glory in the 1980s, took the wheel of Six with Italian powerboating stalwart, Matteo Nicolini as his throttleman. “I won!” Maradona quipped as he returned to the pontoon after reaching a speed of 90 miles an hour out on the water. “It’s great to be part of the XCAT World Series again, especially here in Naples – a city I love so much.” Nicolini, meanwhile, was impressed with Maradona’s driving skills. “He was very excited about the speed and really liked it. I think he could be a good driver. A champion like him could be a champion in any sport,” he said. XCAT action now moves to the beautiful lake-side town of Stresa in northern Italy for the fourth round of the UIM Skydive Dubai XCAT World Series which will take place from June 20-22.