New world champions Victory Team have promised to only any better and mount a more serious challenge for the defence of their title when the UIM XCAT World Championship kicks off in the first quarter of 2018.
Salem Al Adidi and Eisa Al Ali made a dream debut to their career in XCAT powerboating with the blue team from Dubai when they clinched the world crown after finishing ahead of leaders Team Australia with Brett Luhrmann and Pal Virik Nilsen in the eighth and final race of the season off The Palm Jumeirah on Saturday.
Al Adidi and Al Eisa brought in their Victory 3 in sixth place to tak enough points and claim the world crown with a tally of 174 points. Coming into the final two races of the season in Dubai Luhrmann and Nilsen were in pole position for their first-ever world title when fate intervened and the Australians had a weekend to forget when their boat flipped during the pole position run prior to Friday’s opening race.
That left the Victory 3 crew to just go through the race without any incident and take the points to finish clear of their challengers from Down Under. “No doubt this was our best chance for the title, but these things happen in racing,” Nilsen told Gulf News.
“We can’t think too much of what could have been. It is better to be realistic and practical and see if I can get a team assembled for the new season,” he shrugged.
This year’s XCAT season – organized for the very first time by world governing body UIM after taking over from now-disbanded promoters World Professional Powerboat Association (WPPA) – had been hastily put together after teams showed a willingness to race. China held six races back-to-back at three separate venues – Zhengzhou, Weihai and Xiamen before moving on to Dubai for the final two races.
The Victory 3 duo had a dream start to the season when they won the opening two races, followed by a sixth and second position in Weihai. The second race in Xiamen could not be held due to adverse weather conditions, but a fourth place in the first race was enough to give the Dubai team enough points to hold on to second place behind Luhrmann and Nilsen.
Things changed from Weihai when reigning five-time world champion Arif Al Zafein swapped early partner Scott Williams with good friend Nader Bin Hindi. Al Wasl won a dramatic race in Xiamen to throw the race for the championship wide open heading to Dubai.
“It was a crazy season for us, but it was a season where we kept on learning. We were the inexperienced ones, so for us to come and take a world title against some of the best drivers is like a dream come true,” Al Adidi said.
“Our focus and goal was to win the world championship at all costs. We have achieved this target mainly due to the backing and dedication of our team. Suddenly we find we are in the best possible position to get even better for the next season. We will take a short break now and then start testing for the new season,” he added.
Overall standings at the end of the first race of the Dubai Grand Prix – the final round of the 2017 UIM XCAT World Championship held off The Palm:
1. Victory 3 (Salem Al Adidi/Eisa Al Ali – 174 pts);
2. Team Australia (Brett Luhrmann/Pal Virik Nilsen – 158);
3. Team Abu Dhabi (Rashid Al Tayer/Majid Al Mansouri – 153);
4. Swecat Racing (Mikael Bengtsson/Erik Stark – 137);
5. Miphere Xiamen (Giovanni Carpitella/Darren Nicholson – 120);
6. Fujairah Team (Serafino Barlesi/Alessandro Barone – 119);
7. Al Wasl (Arif Al Zafein/Nader Bin Hindi – 116);
8. New Star (Mikhail Kitashev/Dmitry Vandyshev – 81);
9. Caccia Engineering (Alfredo Almato/Daniele Martignoni – 71);
10. Victory Team 33 (Gary Ballough/Ahmad Al Hameli – 65);
11. Raheeb (Abdul Latif Al Omani/Moustafa Al Dashti – 48);
12. Lady Spain (Roberto Lo Piano/Giampaolo Montavoci – 22);
13. Gasbeton (Francois Pinelli/Rosario Schiano Di Cola – 4).