Class 1 World Powerboat Championship - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Arif Al Zafeen and Nadir bin Hendi made the perfect start to the defence of their World title, winning race one of a dramatic Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which saw Relekta crash out on lap four and the race red-flagged.
Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Steve Curtis marked their return to Class 1 bringing Spirit of Qatar 96 home in second place, with Fendi Racing's Luca Fendi and Giovanni Carpitella completing the podium.
Al Zafeen and Bin Hendi made a strong start passing pole-sitters Team Abu Dhabi to lead at the end of lap one, with Spirit of Qatar 95 in third ahead of their teammates, Fendi Racing and Relekta.
By the end of lap three the Dubai pairing had opened up a comfortable 15-second lead over their country rivals. Spirit of Qatar 96 moved into third and Relekta's Ugur Isik and Christian Zaborowski were up to fourth place.
But their race ended in spectacular fashion half-a-lap later when they rolled Relekta to bring out the red flag, ending what had been an impressive race weekend debut for the new pairing.
From the restart Al Zafeen and Bin Hendi made no mistake, immediately opening up a lead and going on to take a 22nd career victory and win a reduced nine lap, race one of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix by 16 seconds. 'We pushed hard from the start and the most important thing was to get in front by the first turn. Which we did,' said Bin Hendi.
'The boat ran well and we were always comfortable, even after the race was stopped. We knew we could stay ahead even though we still had to take our long lap. The win is just the way we wanted to start our season.'
Team Abu Dhabi's hopes of adding a podium to their win in the morning's qualifying ended when they took their long lap and were passed by both Spirit of Qatar 96 and Fendi Racing, both outfits taking their long laps before the red flag was raised.
After the frustration of qualifying down in seventh place, Sheikh Hassan was more than satisfied with second place. 'It's a good start for the team, a podium in qualifying for Matteo and Ali and now for us,' he said. 'And I think tomorrow we can improve because we will be in a much better position at the start.'
For Luca Fendi and Giovanni Carpitella it was a repeat podium success of their Class 1 debut together in Abu Dhabi last year. 'It's seems a lucky venue for us,' said Carpitella. 'We had a small problem at the first turn and messed up our long lap. But we pushed hard especially after the restart and now we have a better place to start tomorrow's race.'
Spirit of Qatar - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Round 1
- Class 1 World Powerboat Championship - Simon Palfrader?nid=82462
Spirit of Qatar 95 were unable to reproduce the pace that put them third quickest in qualifying, finishing in fifth place ahead of Poliform and Parsonage Racing.
There was frustration for MITI's Nicola Giorgi and Tomaso Polli, stopping on lap six, with Welmax enduring what wheel-man Selmer described as a 'crankshaft nightmare', failing to make the start but getting out for the restart just to test the boat. Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race 1 - results
1. 3 Victory Team - A Al Zafeen (UAE) / N Bin Hendi (UAE) 00.47.20,67
2. 96 Spirit of Qatar - H Al Thani (QAT) / S Curtis (ENG) + 00.16,18
3. 10 Fendi Racing - L Formilli Fendi (ITA) / G Carpitella (ITA) + 00.21,15
4. 5 Team Abu Dhabi - R Al Tayer (UAE) / J Tomlinson (USA) + 00.26,56
5. 95 Spirit of Qatar - A Al Neama (QAT) / M Nicolini (ITA) + 00.37,23
6. 74 Poliform - G Cappellini (MON) / G Montavoci (ITA) + 01.44,43
7. 50 Parsonage Racing - G Manuzzi (SMR) / P Virik Nilsen (NOR) + 2 laps
8. 18 MITI - N Giorgi (ITA) / T Polli (ITA) + 3 laps
90 Welmax - K Selmer (NOR) / J Tandberg (NOR) dnf
91 Relekta - U Isik (TUR) / C Zaborowski (NOR) dnf UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship - after race one
1. 3 Victory Team - 20pts 2. 96 Spirit of Qatar - 15pts 3. 10 Fendi Racing - 12pts 4. 5 Team Abu Dhabi - 9pts 5. 95 Spirit of Qatar - 7pts 6. 74 Poliform - 5pts 7. 50 Parsonage Racing - 4pts 8. 18 MITI - 3pts 9. 90 Welmax - 0pts 10. 91 Relekta - 0pts Middle East Championship - after race one
1. 3 Victory Team - 20pts 2. 96 Spirit of Qatar - 15pts 3. 10 Fendi Racing - 12pts 4. 5 Team Abu Dhabi - 9pts 5. 95 Spirit of Qatar - 7pts 6. 74 Poliform - 5pts 7. 50 Parsonage Racing - 4pts 8. 18 MITI - 3pts 9. 90 Welmax - 0pts 10. 91 Relekta - 0pts www.class-1.com