Luca Formilli Fendi and Giovanni Carpitella will line up for the Mediterranean Grand Prix intent on marking the first Class one event to be held in Terracina, Italy (18-20 October) with their first win since they teamed-up in Class one in Abu Dhabi in 2010.
At the mid-point in the Championship with four races run and four to go the top three are separated by 14-points; defending World Champions Victory’s Arif Al Zaffain and Mohammed Al Marri top the points table on 62, just two clear of Aussie duo Darren Nicholson and Rossco Willaton in HUB Team Australia with Formilli Fendi and Carpitella’s LFF10 in third on 48 points.
Formilli Fendi and Carpitella are genuine title challengers and now a constant threat to the top step of the podium, finishing on the podium seven times in nine outings at the last five Grands Prix and will be hoping to add their names to a somewhat sparse list of Italian winners on home waters.
In the last 22-years 15 Italian cities have hosted Class one with national success limited; Matteo Nicolini took the chequered flag last year in Cernobbio, with Nicolini, Guido Cappellini and Giampaolo Montavoci credited wins the year before following the DQ of Victory. Prior to that, you have to turn back the clock to Tarranto in 1997 (E Polli/L Leoni), Gallipoli in 1995 (L Ferrari/V Polli) and Pescarra in 1992 (A Gioffredi/A Bonomi) to find Italian success.
The target for Al Zaffain and Al Marri will be simply to extend their slender Championship lead, but the multiple World Champions have been under more pressure in 2013 than for some time.
Class One PowerBoat Championship - Raffaello Bastiani
They had to come from behind in race one in Sanya to overcome a brilliant drive by the Zabo-Isiklar duo and in race one in Istanbul looked decidedly rattled by the Australians, hooking twice and eventually retiring – but they regrouped to take the win in race two.
Their record however is impressive; since being paired in December 2011 in Dubai Al Zaffain and Al Marri have won 12 times from 15 starts, missing the podium just once - the DNF in Istanbul.
Equally impressive is the teams’ success in Italy winning 15 times, with Al Zaffain completing a hat-trick of wins in Stresa with Nadir Bin Hendi and winning in Cernobbio with Al Marri last year – Al Marri also winning in 2001 with Saeed Al Tayer.
The Dubai duo also sit on top in the Edox Pole Position Championship taking maximum points this season and have qualified in P1 seven times from their eight outings together.
The biggest threat to Dubai dominance this year has been the Australians, Darren Nicholson and Rossco Willaton, who bring a refreshing approach and an all-out style of racing to Class one, and who are running a latest generation Victory boat leased to them by the Dubai outfit.
Nicholson made his mark in the championship at the end of 2011 when he partnered New Zealander Peter McGrath to grab podiums in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. He then teamed-up with Willaton, the pair qualifying strongly in Sanya in third, finishing fourth in race one and second in race two.
In Istanbul they became the first all-Aussie pairing to win a Class one GP and the first Australians to stand on the top step since Bill Barry-Cotter in Qatar in 2002. Their term at the top of the points table was short-lived finishing third to Victory and LFF10 in race two, but just two points shy of the leaders are well placed in the title race – assuming they make it to Terracina.
The Zabo-Isiklar duo of Ugur Isik and Christian Zaborowski sit in fourth place and must wonder where they might be if not for two no points tallies – the first the result of a slightly overzealous first corner and immediate exit in race two in Sanya after finishing second in race one. The second, disappointingly, followed in Istanbul in race two following a herculean effort to fix and re-rig the boat and a brilliant drive from the back of the field after missing qualifying to finish second in race one.
They have good qualifying and race pace, but unlike the three outfits they are chasing who run V12 power-plants the Zabo Team run the Mercury turbo-charged V8, but the break since the last race has allowed the team to make further adjustments and modifications and they will be expecting to be running at the front and challenging for the win.
Another all-Italian crew looking to do well on home waters is Gian Maria Gabbiani and Luca Nicolini in FA.RO. ACCIAI, and currently lying in a very respectable fifth place. And whilst they will be the first to admit that they do not have anywhere like the pace or resource of their more illustrious rivals, they have shown great reliability and resolve to be where they are.
They first teamed-up in Gabon last year finishing in fifth then rather unceremoniously crashed out of the Italian Grand Prix in race one. But since regrouping they have put together a solid string of performances finishing in the points in their last eight outings and recording five top-five finishes.
The flamboyant Brit, Miles Jennings, and Italian Alfredo Amato will make their third appearance together running the number two Fendi boat, LFF8. After a somewhat frustrating race on their debut in Sanya, China where they failed to post points, they produced a stirring performance in Istanbul to make it a double podium weekend for the team after finishing third in race one and then fourth in race two, their teammates grabbing second.
For last year’s Championship runners-up Team Abu Dhabi, 2013 is not proving to be as successful and they find themselves sitting in seventh. Their number one and favoured pairing of Rashed Al Tayer and Majed Al Mansoori were no shows in Sanya so led to a seat shuffle with newcomers Faleh Al Mansoori and Salim Al Adidi forced to split up, Al Mansoori doing both races with Tomaso Polli, Adidi racing with Giampaolo Montavoci in Poliform.
Al Mansoori and Polli fared the better finishing fifth and fourth, Adidi and Montavoci failing to finish race one but managing a sixth in race two.
Rashed Al Tayer was back for the Turkish Grand Prix and taking the throttles for the first time, with [Faleh] Al Mansoori again getting the call-up to drive. They qualified well in fourth and then took the chequered flag in race one also in fourth, only to be disqualified. But in race two their weekend ended on lap two, hooking and crashing out of the race.
Team Abu Dhabi has confirmed the same line-up in Terracina but the team is facing an uphill climb to have the boat fixed and rigged in time.
DAC Racing has confirmed that Giampaolo Montavoci will be on the throttles and will be joined for the second time this season by Tarik Oktem.
It has been a varied season for the most experienced racer in Class one – who starts his 104th Grand Prix and lines-up for his 116th race in Terracina. Last time out in Istanbul he guided Class one rookie Oktem to a very respectable fourth place in race one but hit trouble and retired in race two.
Teams get their first chance to test the waters and the 4.97Nm circuit in Friday morning’s free practice at 11.00hrs (local) with official qualifying in the Edox Pole Position at 14.30hrs. A second practice session on Saturday at 10.30hrs is followed by race one of the Mediterranean Grand Prix at 15.30hrs. The final practice session and second qualifying session takes place on Sunday at 11.00hrs with race 2 at 15.30hrs. World Championship - after round two
1. 3 Victory Team - 62pts 2. 7 HUB Team Australia - 60pts 3. 10 LFF10 - 48pts 4. 91 Zabo-Isiklar - 34pts 5. 23 FA.RO ACCIAI - 30pts 6. 8 LFF8 21pts 7. Team Abu Dhabi - 18pts 8. 74 Poliform 14pts. Edox Pole Position Championship - after round two
1. 3 Victory Team - 40pts 2. 7 HUB Team Australia - 27pts 3. 10 LFF10 - 21pts 4. 91 Zabo-Isiklar - 15pts 5. 8 LFF8 - 12pts 6. 23 FA.RO.ACCIAI - 11pts 7. 5 Team Abu Dhabi 9pts 8. 74. Poliform 5pts