The Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi is set to take place from 19-21 December and Arif Al Zafeen and Mohammed Al Marri will make the short journey from the team’s headquarters in Dubai for this final Grand Prix of the year with the title all but won and needing just a handful of points to win a remarkable twelfth World title for Victory Team.
The Champions elect need to finish ahead of their neighbours Team Abu Dhabi who can still mathematically win the Championship should Victory suffer some kind of monumental meltdown – which is highly unlikely.
With the Edox Pole Position Championship already won Al Zafeen and Al Marri will now be looking to complete the season grand slam. After five wins and two further podium finishes they sit at the top of the World Championship standings with 137 points, 32 clear of Rashed Al Tayer and Majed Al Mansoori and lead them in the Middle East Championship by 15 points.
Victory Team’s trophy haul began back in 1993, winning the World title in their debut season. Over the last two decades they have won 91 races from 167 starts en route to 11 World tiles, winning the European Championship seven times, the Middle East Championship five times and picking up eight Pole Position titles.
With Sheikh Hassan disappointingly calling time on the Spirit of Qatar Team’s Class 1 campaign after boycotting race 2 in Dubai, the door is left open for a clutch of teams to battle it out for podium honours, with Team Abu Dhabi and LFFendi10 looking to carry the fight to Victory.
Rashed Al Tayer and Majed Mansoori have pushed their UAE cousins hard all year and have enjoyed their best season since teaming-up in Norway in 2010, picking up six podium finishes and will be looking to close out their year with a win on home waters.
Despite boycotting race 2 last weekend LFFendi10 will line up in Abu Dhabi, with Luca Formilli Fendi and Giovanni Carpitella all set to secure third spot in the World Championship standings but they may well have to stave off a challenge from Darren Nicholson and Peter McGrath - who were impressive in their first outing in the Championship in Dubai running in the latest generation Victory hull with a fourth and a podium finish - in the fight for a top three finish in the Middle East Championship.
Ugur Isik and Christian Zaborowski matched their best performance of the season in Dubai with a fourth place in Zabo-Isiklar and will be intent on maintaining their top six status despite being limited in their choice of set-up, with FARO ACCIAI’s Gian Maria Gabbiani and Luca Nicolini looking to build on their double points finish last time out.
After just one points finish from seven starts Guido Cappellini and Giampaolo Montavoci will be hoping to close out a frustrating year with a trouble free run in Spirit of Gabon-Poliform, with Subseapilot's Yngve Bratland and Bjorge Jacobsen hoping for their first points of their UAE campaign.
First Practice takes place on Wednesday from 11.30-13.00hrs (local) with official qualifying in the Edox Pole Position at 15.30hrs. A second practice session on Thursday morning at 10.30hrs is followed by Race 1 of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - 10 laps / 49.97Nm at 15.30hrs, with a final practice session on Friday morning at 10.30hrs and Race 2– 14 laps / 70.17Nm at 15.30hrs.
World Championship - after race 7
1. 3 Victory Team - 137pts 2. 5 Team Abu Dhabi - 105pts 3= 96 Spirit of Qatar - 53pts 3= 10 Fendi Racing - 53pts 5. 95 Spirit of Qatar - 45pts 6. 91 Zabo Isiklar - 42pts 7. 7 Victory Team of Australia - 21pts 8. 23 FA.RO ACCIAI - 19pts 9. 74 Spirit of Gabon - Poliform - 13pts 10. 90 Welmax - 5pts 11= 9 Welmax - 0pts 12= 8 Subseapilot - 0pts
Middle East Championship - after race 4
1. 3 Victory Team - 72pts 2. 5 Team Abu Dhabi - 57pts 3. 96 Spirit of Qatar - 32pts 3. 10 Fendi Racing - 22pts 4. 7 Victory Team of Australia - 21pts 6. 91 Zabo Isiklar - 16pts 7. 23 FA.RO ACCIAI - 12pts 8. 95 Spirit of Qatar - 9pts 9= 74 Spirit of Gabon - Poliform - 0pts 9= 90 Welmax - 0pts 9= 8 Subseapilot - 0pts
Edox Pole Position Championship - after round 4
1. 3 Victory Team - 75pts 2. 5 Team Abu Dhabi - 45pts 3. 96 Spirit of Qatar - 35pts 4. 95 Spirit of Qatar - 31pts 5. 10 Fendi Racing - 24 pts 6. 90 Welmax - 16pts 7. 9 Welmax - 12pts 8= 74 Poliform - 9pts 8= 91 Zabo Isiklar - 9pts 10. 7 Victory Team of Australia - 7pts 11. 23 FA.RO. ACCIAI - 5pts 12. 8 Subseapilot - 3pts Class 1 website