For the fourth straight year, the Victory Team-backed duo of Nadir bin Hendi and Arif Al Zaffain drove the team’s XDubai boat to the 2015 Union Internationale Motonautique XCAT World Series overall championship after winning today’s Abu Dhabi GP in fine fashion.
The XDubai team led from the first turn and never let up to claim its fourth consecutive XCAT World Series title. Photos courtesy XCAT
Heading into the sixth and final race of the year, and starting in third position after a number of problems in pole position qualifying, Nadir bin Hendi had admitted to a few butterflies as the Abu Dhabi Team of Rashed Al Tayer and Faleh Al Mansoori was just five points behind in the overall standings. But the massively experienced defending series champions mastered the rough conditions on the start lap to reach the first buoy—and the safety of the flat water—in the first position.
“At the start we saw the Abu Dhabi Team doing a big jump and we didn’t want to do the same so I put my finger on the right engine trim,” Al Zaffain said in an XCAT press release, explaining that there were a few nervous moments in the boat at the start. “I used too much trim and thought I had a problem with the gear box and then Nadir reminded me: ‘Your finger, your finger on the trim!’ So we went down, but it was for this reason that we lost maybe two seconds and for this reason that T-Bone Station came so close to us. But then we pushed again and it was good to finish the race without any problems.”
The T-Bone Station team of Giovanni Carpitella and Darren Nicholson, who started in the second spot, came close to challenging XDubai when it took a tight line into the first turn, but it could never edge ahead and stayed in second place for the remainder of the race.
Nadir bin Hendi said they were excited in the boat once they crossed the finish and their title was secured.
“It was a feeling we can’t express—we screamed in the cockpit very loudly,” he said. “We were so hungry for it. Thank God we got it.”
Meanwhile, Carpitella explained how vital the start was.
“We had to do everything we could at the start because the rest of the race was flat and we knew we couldn’t win it in those conditions,” he said. “Once we reached the flat water the race was over and then it wasn’t worth it to take any risks so we just aimed to keep our position in second.”
As for just missing out on an overall series podium spot (the team would have claimed third had they won Saturday’s race but finished in fourth place overall), the Italian was not particularly concerned.
“I was just racing to win this race and wasn’t really thinking about third place in the championship,” Carpitella said.
XDubai’s closest challenger in the series—Abu Dhabi Team, whose only season victory came in the opening round in Fujairah—eventually finished in third place in Saturday’s race and took second in the series standings.
After catching some major air next to the Altman Marine Lady Spain boat, T-Bone Station finished second in the Abu Dhabi GP.
The Italian duo of Tomaso Polli and Matteo Nicolini in Six held on to the third spot overall in the series despite a disappointing 12th place finish on Saturday after losing power in one of the engines. Mathematically the pair could have claimed the top spot in the championship but it was not its day.
“One of the engines started to not give 100 percent performance,” Nicolini said. “The boat was going slowly and the last three laps we were just going down so our goal then was to finish to get the points for third place overall and we managed to do that.”
The Dubai team of Salem Al Adidi and Eisa Al Ali, which started in pole position, had a poor start and were well back by the first turn but managed to recover to finish in fourth place. American teammates Jay Price and Shaun Torrente finished fifth in the Lady Spain boat.
The XCAT World Series will take a break and return in March with some new venues on the cards for the 2016 season. According to the release, the official 2016 calendar will be announced in the coming weeks.
XCAT Series Up for Grabs Heading into Final Race
Mercury Racing Unveils XCAT Outboard in Key West
XCAT Seeks U.S. Race Site for 2017
XDubai Wins in Portugal to Take XCAT World Series Points Lead
Americans Price and Torrente Teaming Up for XCAT Race in Portugal
Nail-Biting XCAT World Series Second-Round Victory for XDubai
Abu Dhabi Claim XCAT Debut Win in Fujairah, Fazza Catches Fire