The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is scheduled to take place 19-21 December and Arif Al Zafeen and Mohammed Al Marri will start race 1 of the event from Pole Position as they look to clinch a twelfth World title for Dubai’s Victory Team.
Despite not being able to match or better the time they set in morning practice, the Championship leaders needed only a handful of laps to secure the pole in qualifying, setting the best time of the 60-minutes session, 2.54.21s, on their third and final lap. 'It’s never easy but it was a good session for us and there was a good fight behind us,' said double world Champion Mohammed Al Marri. 'We had a similar set-up to the morning and I think we did a good job out there today and made some great turns. Now we will look at one or two options for tomorrow, especially the start.'
With the Victory crew confident that their time would not be bettered they waited it out and watched from the pits as a titanic battle for the podium places was fought out between Team Abu Dhabi, Victory Australia and Spirit of Gabon-Poliform.
After an initial time that put them into second spot, Rashed Al Tayer and Majed Al Mansoori saw their hopes of a top three finish disappear and their time bettered, first by Darren Nicholson and Peter McGrath who were getting quicker lap-by-lap, and then by Guido Cappellini and Giampaolo Montavoci who eclipsed both and snatched second spot by just over 2/10ths with a time of 2.56.25s. 'We had a great battle with seven and pushed and pushed. The set-up we had for this circuit is perfect,' said Cappellini after getting his best qualifying result of the year. 'Now I have to work on some things for tomorrow and the rough section.'
Despite just missing out on second spot, Peter McGrath is confident they will be fighting for a podium finish tomorrow. 'It’s a lovely boat and it’s really just a question of us being brave enough to push it to the edge,' he said. 'This time I ran it pretty hard and whenever Darren turned the wheel I thought that the only thing that will happen is that it will tip over. But it doesn’t. It is exceptional in the turns. I think we will be up there tomorrow'
Zabo-Isikar’s Christian Zaborowski was clearly not happy at the end of qualifying after a slower boat got in their way and he had to abort what he felt could well have been a top three time.
There was frustration for Luca Formilli Fendi and Giovanni Carpitella who failed to get one engine running after they pitted and were heading back out on to the circuit to try and improve on sixth spot. FARO ACCIAI’s Gian Maria Gabbiani and Luca Nicolini improved on the time they set in practice by almost four seconds, with newcomer Yngve Bratland and Bjorge Jacobsen running eight laps and getting much needed time on the water.
Tomorrow morning the teams will get their first opportunity to look at and run the outside leg of the course, with the start running from outside Lulu Island and into the more protected waters inside and along the Abu Dhabi Corniche.
Practice starts at 10.30hrs (local) with race 1 of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at 15.30hrs.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Edox Pole Position – Results:
1. 3 Victory - A Al Zafeen (UAE) / M Al Marri (UAE) - 02.54,21
2. 74 Poliform - G Cappellini (MON) / G Montavoci (ITA) - 02.56,25
3. 7 Victory Team of Australia - D Nicholson (AUS) / P Mc Grath (NZL) - 02.56,47
4. 5 Team Abu Dhabi - R Al Tayer (UAE) / M Al Mansoori (UAE) - 02.59,37
5. 91 Zabo Isiklar - U Isik (TUR) / C Zaborowski (NOR) - 03.00,84
6. 10 Fendi Racing - L Formilli Fendi (ITA) / G Carpitella (ITA) - 03.01,71
7. 23 FA.RO. ACCIAI - G M Gabbiani (ITA) / L Nicolini (ITA) - 03.15,96
8. 8 Subseapilot - Y Bratland (NOR) / B Jacobsen (NOR) - 03.18,51
Edox Pole Position Championship - after round 5:
1. 3 Victory Team - 95pts 2. 5 Team Abu Dhabi - 54pts 3. 96 Spirit of Qatar - 35pts 4. 95 Spirit of Qatar - 31pts 5. 10 Fendi Racing - 29 pts 6. 74 Poliform - 24pts 7. 7 Victory Team of Australia - 19pts 8= 91 Zabo Isiklar - 16pts 8= 90 Welmax - 16pts 10. 9 Welmax - 12pts 11. 23 FA.RO. ACCIAI - 9pts 12. 8 Subseapilot - 6pts Class 1 website