After qualifying second and third in a pair of American-built 48-foot catamarans from MTI in Wentzville, Mo., on Wednesday morning, Team Abu Dhabi finished first and second overall in the first of two Union International Motonautique Class 1 World Powerboat Championship races in Salerno, Italy, being held on a unique course in conjunction with the seventh leg of the Venice-Monte Carlo endurance race.
Team Abu Dhabi’s Majid Al-Mansoori and Rashid Al-Tayer finished second in the Class 1 season opener today. Photo courtesy ADIMSC
Despite having its back against the wall, the Abu Dhabi crew provided some formidable equipment for the team’s drivers. Racing the MTI that arrived in Italy last weekend—the Abu Dhabi 6 powered by twin Mercury Racing 850 engines—American teammates Gary Ballough and John Tomlinson qualified in second with the Emirati pairing of Majid Al-Mansoori and Rashid Al-Tayer—in the Abu Dhabi 5 powered by twin SCAM engines—starting the race just behind their teammates in third. The two MTIs didn’t miss a beat race and gave the team based out of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club a superb 1-2 start to the season.
“It was all a bit of a rush getting the boats shipped in and everything ready for the start at the last minute, but this result goes to prove that it was all worth it and the team is on the right track for a really good challenge for the Class 1 title this year,” said Al-Tayer in a press release issued by the ADIMSC. “We need to keep the momentum going into the second race and try and deliver a 1-2 for Abu Dhabi again.”
Tomlinson, who took an overnight flight from Florida to Italy with Ballough following Sunday’s SBI race in Marathon (read the story), said the boat ran great considering it had never been in the water before qualifying on Wednesday morning.
Team Abu Dhabi faced a fierce challenge in Salerno from Italian Giovanni Carpitella and England’s Miles Jennings of the Fendi Racing/T-Bone Station team that lined up at the start in pole position and were running in second until the final lap when an engine cut out dropping them to third. Rather than use its usual boat, the defending Class 1 champions—Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Nadir bin Hendi of the Dubai-based Victory Team—leased a Victory-built hull from Mauro D’Alessio and found themselves in unfamiliar territory qualifying fourth and finishing in fifth place.
Swedish rookie Niclas Johansson made his Class 1 debut alongside Christian Zaborowski in Energima Zabo Racing, and the duo qualified in fourth and finished the race in fourth place.
A second pole position session follows tomorrow at 11 a.m. local time. The second of the two Salerno races will be staged at 2 p.m.