At the European Grand Prix, spinning boats, upset favourites and a spectacular win for the home team – the fifth round of the UIM Skydive Dubai XCAT World Series couldn’t have been scripted any better.
By the end of the afternoon’s action in at Lake Maggiore, Matteo Nicolini and Tomaso Polli had emerged as well-deserved European Grand Prix champions. Racing in their new boat, Six, the Italian duo held their nerve to survive two restarts after Consul Brokers flipped their boat on the first start and the Speed Cat Run champions, Victory Team, did the same soon after the second start of the race.
Thanks to the exceptionally efficient race management and safety procedures, all four pilots emerged from their damaged boats unharmed, but the dramatic beginning to proceedings left the remaining teams rather shaken.
'Matteo said before the race it’s going be very tricky at the start. There was a gust of wind and that was really tricky. Obviously it gets quite nerve-wracking the third time around,' said Polli, who was racing with Nicolini for just the second time.
Meanwhile, with Consul Brokers and Victory Team out of the running, Six, who had originally started the race in fourth position, took advantage of the line restart to overtake Skydive Dubai. There was more drama to come, however, as Series leaders Fazza, who started in Pole Position, battled with engine trouble and fell right back to seventh spot by the finish of the shortened 12-lap race.
'It just wasn’t our day,' admitted Arif Al Zaffain. 'We had problems with the engine from the start.'
European Grand Prix Arona Italy - Nicolini and Polli - Raffaello Bastiani
As for Six, they benefited from a penalty lap, imposed on the Qatar Team for an incorrect start to eventually take the lead and finally the win in 31.13,07 minutes, much to the delight of the over 60,000 people lining the shore. Skydive Dubai (Jay Price and Rashid Al Tayer) were second and Mouawad (Omar Danial and Gary Ballough) third.
'It’s great! When you win in Italy it’s the best,' said a beaming Nicolini. 'I have never seen a crowd like this in XCAT. I saw crowds in Cernobbio last year and in Lake Como, when I was in the Class-1 and I won with the Class-1, but I think it’s more crowded here, and this podium and everything here was super.'
Secretary General of the WPPA, Sid Bensalah congratulated the newly crowned champions and paid tribute to the timely services of the rescue crew. 'This is a wonderful result for the home team and our best wishes go to Matteo and Tomaso for their excellent victory.
'I must also convey our thanks to the safety teams for the fast and efficient way they, and the UIM race official, handled both incidents during the race. It is credit to them, and the many safety procedures and regulations we have in place in XCAT racing that none of the four pilots involved suffered any injuries this afternoon on what proved to be a great day of racing.' XCAT Racing