28 March 2016 – They provided one of the surprises of the season last year, and now Team Abu Dhabi are planning to return to that scene of triumph to pick up where they left off.
Rashed Al Tayer and Faleh Al Mansoori took top honours in the opening round of the UIM XCAT World Powerboating Series last year in their first official outing in the Series.
And with that experience under their belts the duo are confident they can do it again when the 2016 season gets underway at the same venue in Fujairah from April 7 to 8.
“We are very confident that we will win. We did a great job here last year,” said Al Tayer. “We will work to win. This is our only goal so we are optimistic that we will do something special in Fujairah and finish first – same as before,” he added.
Last year’s race witnessed some of the roughest conditions of the season, with the main race having to eventually be postponed by a day as the Gulf of Oman was simply too rough. In the end, only six out of 13 boats managed to successfully finish the race.
But Al Mansoori is not hoping for a similar scenario next month.
“No, we don’t want the same conditions as last year because it was very rough for all the teams and the race had to be delayed by a day. We like rough water sometimes for our boat but at the same time, we like to have a safe and normal race. We would like to have a good competition between all the drivers,” he said.
14 teams will line up for the opening round of the season this year and while Team Abu Dhabi acknowledge the strength of all of them, it’s the defending Series champion Victory Team (Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir bin Hendi) that they’ll be particularly wary of.
“Everybody will be strong in Fujairah but specially Victory Team. They are very strong and they have prepared very well. We are proud that we and Victory Team belong to the same country.”
While there are new teams and new venues to spice up this year’s Series, also making a competitive debut in 2016 will be the new four-stroke Mercury engines.
Asked how their introduction may affect the race, Al Tayer admitted: “We like the four-stroke engines very much because they are friends with the environment and we encourage that, but we will not talk about it now – it’s a bit of a mystery for everybody and we can talk more about it after the first race.”
As for what the Fujairah crowds can expect from the April 7-8 event, which is free of charge to the general public, Al Mansoori reckoned: “Hold your breath because it’s going to be a very strong and tough race!”
Al Tayer added: “When you watch the race, please say ‘hooray’ for the UAE teams because they need you. We need your support and screams because it gives us more and more courage.”