Australian teammates Tom Barry-Cotter and Ross Willaton clinched the 2019 Union Internationale Motonautique XCAT World Championship with a victory in Saturday’s Dubai Grand Prix as Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente and Faleh Al Mansoori saw their hopes of a second consecutive title end in dramatic style.
The Maritimo team won the final race of the season in Dubai to earn its first XCAT World Championship title. Photos by Raffaello Bastiani/XCAT
A penalty lap imposed on the defending champions for missing a buoy in Abu Dhabi 4 proved decisive as Barry-Cotter and Willaton swept past Torrente and Al Mansoori in Maritimo to win the weekend’s second race, finishing 34 seconds ahead of Rashed Al Tayer and Majed Al Mansoori in Abu Dhabi 5 and the Dubai Police crew of Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir Bin Hendi. Abu Dhabi 4 took fourth following their race success 24 hours earlier, giving them the runner-up spot in the overall points championship.
After a spectacular start from the pole, Abu Dhabi 4 clawed out a three-second lead over Maritimo before being dropped back by the penalty lap after the pressure from Barry-Cotter and Willaton, who was involved in an intense crash at the Offshore Superboat Championship – Australia at the end of November, forced a crucial misjudgment.
“They were quick and we were pushing and I think we just pushed a little harder than we could without making mistakes,” said Torrente, who is from Florida and is the current defending F1 H2O world champion. “We missed a buoy and the race committee was quick about it, giving us a long lap penalty.
“So we just dealt with that and we pushed as hard as we could without making any more mistakes,” he continued. “We still had to keep second place in the championship in mind. That was not our goal so we fell short this year, but myself, Faleh and the rest of the team won’t stop until we get the title back.”
The American barely has time to catch his breath ahead of an enthralling last week of the season in the UAE as he heads from Dubai to Sharjah in a commanding position to retain the UIM F1 H2O drivers’ crown, as well as the series team title with Thani Al Qemzi.
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