In the historic season opener for the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) Class 1 World Powerboat Championship in Sanya, China, the Victory Team completed the sweep last weekend as the high-powered catamaran circuit competed in China for the first time in the sport’s history.
Victory’s Arif Al Zaffain and Mohammed Al Marri wrapped up the perfect opening to their 2012 title defense, winning Saturday’s second race to complete the hat trick at the Sanya Grand Prix after taking the top spot in the first race and in qualifying.
In the first race on Friday, the defending champs had to come from behind after being outgunned at the start by Zabo-Isiklar’s Ugur Isik and Christian Zaborowski, who led the Victory duo into the first turn and held a three-second lead at the end of the first lap.
Despite conceding the lead after being out front for more than half the race, Zaborowski was more than pleased with the second-place finish.
“To be honest we are very happy with (Friday’s) result,” the team’s throttleman said. “We pushed hard from the start and tried for more. But we kept getting some warning lights coming up so we had to keep easing back. It is not a big problem—we can fix it overnight and think we will have another good race tomorrow.”
Unfortunately Isik and Zaborowski’s day in the second race ended in spectacular fashion when they barrel-rolled Zabo-Isiklar at the first turn. Both pilots were unhurt but the severity of the damage was clear once the boat had been towed back to the pits.
“It’s hard to say what happened, maybe we caught a wave,” Zaborowski said. “It was a fast entry corner. I felt the boat lift and twist a little as we turned in and then it went over. This was a big crash. The damage is very bad all over the boat.”
Zabo-Isiklar’s dramatic exit brought out the red flag and forced a restart, with the race shortened to 14 laps. The Victory duo again took control from the start and was unchallenged at the front throughout, systematically extending their lead lap by lap to eventually win comfortably by 45 seconds. The team leads the championship by 16 points over Victory Australia and Fendi Racing.
Victory Australia’s Daren Nicholson and Ross Willaton and Fendi Racing’s Luca Formilli Fendi and Giovanni Carpitella picked up where they left off Friday, resuming their on-water battle. This time, the Australian duo turned the tables on its Italian rivals, passing them with three laps to go to take its second podium of the weekend.
Italy’s Tomaso Polli rounded off a busy and successful event that started on the wheel of Poliform and ended with two outings on the throttles of Team Abu Dhabi alongside Class 1 rookie, Faleh Al Mansoori. The scratch pairing produced a more-than-impressive second outing, going one better than in the first race to take a respectable fourth place.
The next Class 1 race is scheduled for June 14-16 in Istanbul, Turkey.