Victory 3 clinch sixth world crown, Victory 33 take race honours in 2017 UIM XCAT World Championship
Dubai-based Victory Team hogged the limelight on home waters with their new Victory 33 picking up a win, while Victory 3 went on to clinch a record-setting six straight world title at the end of the 2017 UIM XCAT World Championship held off The Palm, on Saturday.
Going into the eighth and final race of the season, the pairing of Salem Al Adidi and Eisa Al Ali needed to finish ahead of the Australian duo of Team Australia’s Brett Luhrmann and Pal Virik Nilsen. The Dubai drivers brought their boat home safely into sixth even as teammates Ahmad Al Hameli and Gary Ballough clinched a heart-stopping race ahead of Serafino Barlesi and Alessandro Barone in their Fujairah Team boat while pace-setters Mikael Bengtsson and Erik Stark came in third with Swecat Racing.
“This is too surreal at the moment. Maybe the feeling of being world champions will sink in as time passes by. It has been an incredible first season for us and I want this dream to continue for both of us,” Al Adidi told Gulf News.
“We were clear on our strategy, and that was to ensure boat number 8 [Team Australia] doesn’t pass us. It was the world championship that we were looking forward to and today we’ve got it,” he added.
Dr Raffaele Chiulli, President of UIM was joined by Huraiz Bin Huraiz, Chairman of UAE Marine Sports Federation, Mohammad Hareb, Ceo of DIMC, Mohammad Al Mutaiwei, Vice Chairman of Victory Team, Ahmad Ebrahim, Vice Chairman of UAE Marine Sports Federation (UAE MSF) and Race Director Hazem Al Qamzi at the presentation of trophies after the race.
Saturday’s second race of the Dubai Grand Prix had to be moved by an hour and a half following rough sea conditions. Eventually, the teams agreed to a shorter ten-lap race and it was Swecat Racing pursuing pole starters and defending world champions Aref Al Zafein and Nader Bin Hindi in Al Wasl. The five-time champions – this time with a new team and old boat – could not cope and limped out on the first lap with an engine problem.
It was then that Al Hameli and Ballough came into the frame with Victory 33 going on to take charge from the third lap to win the race with ease. “We needed to test how much this new boat could take and so we pushed hard. It feels nice to win a race in our very first round together,” Ballough said.
“We had no pressure on us. They [Victory 33] needed to conserve and bring in their boat safely, while we could afford to push as much as we wanted and just go for the win,” the 60-year-old American added.
Al Zafein was left to rue the element of bad luck after the Al Wasl engine konked off at the start of the race. “These things happen in racing. But we’ve got to remember that we have achieved notable success this season due to the hard work put in by the team,” Al Zafein said.
“There is always 2018 and we will start our preparations early so that we can be even more competitive next season,” he added.
Results at the end of the second race in the Dubai Grand Prix â€“ Round Four of the 2017 UIM XCAT World Championship held off The Palm on Saturday:
1. Victory Team 33 (Ahmad Al Hameli/Gary Ballough – 35pts);
2. Fujairah Team (Serafino Barlesi/Alessandro Barone – 30);
3. Swecat Racing (Mikael Bengtsson/Erik Stark – 26);
4. Team Abu Dhabi (Rashid Al Tayer/Majid Al Mansouri – 22);
5. New Star (Mikhail Kitashev/Dmitry Vandyshev – 18);
6. Victory Team 3 (Salem Al Adidi/Eisa Al Ali – 15);
7. Raheeb (Abdul Latif Al Omani/Moustafa Al Dashti – 12);
8. 222 Offshore (Giovanni Carpitella/Darren Nicholson – 10);
9. Team Australia (Brett Luhrmann/Pal Virik Nilsen – 9);
10. Gasbeton (Francois Pinelli/Lorenzio Bacchi – 6).