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MTI At 25—Taking The Class 1 Title With Team Abu Dhabi

Even most casual fans of the MTI brand know company founder Randy Scism gained extensive Union Internationale Motonautique Class 1 experience—as a driver and team manager—with the Dubai-backed Victory outfit in the 1980s and 1990s. But his own Wentzville, Mo.-built 48-foot catamaran model didn’t claim Class 1 world titles of its own until November 2015 with the Abu Dhabi team.

After six years of effort, the Abu Dhabi team broke through and earned the 2015 Class 1 World Championship with a 48-foot MTI catamaran piloted by Americans John Tomlinson and Gary Ballough.

And now, as previously reported on speedonthewater.com, one of those 48-footers is the property of the current Class 1 XINSURANCE/Good Boy Vodka team, which is slated to debut the cat at the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix, the second event of the 2023 Class 1 World Championship Series, June 30 to July 2, in Southwest Florida.

The Abu Dhabi team fielded two MTI cats in the 2015 Class 1 world championships, which were held in Salerno, Italy, that year. The outfit’s own Majid Al-Mansoori and Rashid Al-Tayer from the United Arab Emirates ran one of the cats. But a couple of American imports in the form of offshore racers John Tomlinson and Gary Ballough of Florida piloted the team’s other 48-footer powered by twin 850-hp Mercury Racing engines, and they bested the famed Victory team, which had dominated Class 1 since the mid-2000s, for top honors.

With two boats in the mix, the Abu Dhabi team proved to be too much for the long-dominant Victory team.

For Tomlinson, it was his second UIM Class 1 title—the first came in 1997 when he raced with Laith Pharaon in Zero Defect. (The year before the team went undefeated and claimed an American Power Boat Association Open-Class World Championship.) What most impressed Tomlinson about claiming the 2015 Class 1 title—18 years to the day that he and Pharaon claimed it in 1997—was the closeness of the racing.

And for the Abu Dhabi group, it was the team’s first Class 1 title since entering the sport in 2009.

“You have an MTI with 1100 Mercury Racing engines detuned to 850 hp, two Victory cats with 850-hp Lamborghini engines and on two races in two days the difference between the top three boats is three seconds,” Tomlinson said. “That’s incredible.

“Our world championship was a total team effort,” he added.

But no one was more thrilled than Scism.

“Man, I am about as happy as a guy can get,” Scism said. “This is kind of special for us. We have been gone from here for a lot of years, so to come back and do this for Abu Dhabi—it’s just so special. I was on the radio with Johnny and he told me one of the engines was ‘getting a little warm.’ We knew we had to get third place or better so he decided to keep it in second. He managed the whole race and it came to us.”

Tomlinson described team Abu Dhabi’s Class 1 World Championship as “a total team effort.”

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