26 November 2015, Abu Dhabi – The Dubai team of Salem Al Adidi and Eisa Al Ali claimed Pole Position for Friday’s Abu Dhabi GP with just minutes to spare by recording the fastest lap of 2:27.771 in qualifying at the final round of the UIM XCAT World Series on Thursday.
Locked in a fascinating three-way battle, it looked like T-Bone Station (Giovanni Carpitella and Darren Nicholson) had Pole Position all sewn up after powering ahead of XDubai (Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir bin Hendi), who were then leading, with around 12 minutes to go with a lap of 2:27.804.
But in a strategic move, the Dubai boat waited until the final five minutes of the session to make their attack and they raced ahead to bag their first ever XCAT Pole Position. With the top three boats all within three tenths of one another, Friday’s race should be an enthralling affair.
Throttleman Al Ali gave plenty of credit to his driver Al Adidi. “I am so happy – I have a lion in my boat,” he said with a smile. “Salem did such a good job on the turns. I didn’t slow down for him. I came full throttle and he made the turns. He’s a lion.”
Al Adidi added: “We are very happy to be in first place. We are so excited about this very flat water – we love these conditions. It’s fantastic so we knew we had to push and to get this pole to show everybody we are good.
“We knew it was very close. The top three were very close but we knew we could improve more and more every time so we waited until five minutes before the chequered flag and I said: ‘Ok Eisa, let’s go! We will beat everybody’.”
This result is a far cry from the Dubai boat’s disastrous fourth round of the XCAT World Series just a few months ago in Australia where the duo managed to flip their boat twice during the race weekend. The conditions there were vastly different, however, compared to the silky smooth water in the UAE capital this week.
Talking about the start for Friday’s race, which is free of charge to the general public, Al Adidi explained: “We will plan our strategy now – depending on the conditions for tomorrow if it’s flat or rough. If it’s flat we are ok. We will fight to reach the first buoy in first position. We know we are good.”
With Dubai first, T-Bone Station second and XDubai third, the battle to that first buoy will likely be a battle of note.
Starting in fourth position will be the Abu Dhabi team of Rashed Al Tayer and Faleh Al Mansoori who are currently one point off the overall Series lead. And occupying the all-important final spot in the top gate will be the Lady Spain team of Jay Price and Shaun Torrente.
Meanwhile, later in the afternoon on Thursday, T-Bone Station claimed Dubai Duty Free Speed Cat Run honours for the second time this season at the sixth and final round of the UIM XCAT Powerboat World Series in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
The Italian team, who also bagged top spot in the head-to-head drag race-style contest in Australia in August, defeated current Series leaders XDubai (Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir Bin Hendi) in the final to take the title.
Despite settling for second place on Thursday, the XDubai duo have still managed to extend their lead at the top of the overall Series standings and are now five points ahead of second-placed Team Abu Dhabi (Rashed Al Tayer and Faleh Al Mansoori) heading into Friday’s decider – the Abu Dhabi GP. Team Abu Dhabi could only reach the second round on Thursday.
T-Bone Station made their way to the final by defeating Team Saracen Australia (Brett Luhrmann and Pal Virik Nilsen) in the first round before getting the better of Marine Investimenti Sud (Serafino Barlesi and Alessandro Barone) in the second. They then went on to beat the boat that will start Friday’s Abu Dhabi GP in Pole Position, Dubai (Salem Al Adidi and Eisa Al Ali), in the semifinal to book their final showdown with XDubai.
The action continues on Friday with a tense finale on the cards as the teams take to the water for the final time this season. Should XDubai finish first or second, the Championship will be theirs but last weekend’s race in Dubai, where the UAE pair had to retire from the race with a gear case problem, has shown that anything is possible.