Just one point now separates the teams at the top of the Union Internationale Motonautique XCAT World Series standings after an exhilarating third round at the Cascais Grand Prix in Portugal on Sunday.
XDubai’s Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir bin Hendi ran a flawless race to win the first Cascais Grand Prix in Portugal on Sunday.
Having won the opening round of the series in February, the Abu Dhabi Team of Rashed Al Tayer and Faleh Al Mansoori came into the race as the points standing leaders. But a poor start followed by engine trouble saw them slip out of contention, eventually finishing in fifth place while last year’s winners—XDubai—produced a flawless performance to take the win.
The XDubai pair of Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir bin Hendi proved untouchable as they led from the start, mastering the tricky conditions that saw the race committee changing the course just an hour before, and crossed the line first.
The real battle was going on behind the Victory Team duo, however.
The T-Bone Station team of Giovanni Carpitella and Marco Pennesi saw its bad luck continue this season. The Italian duo was in second for much of the race but a sudden loss of power steering forced the team to drop out of the race.
Behind them the Yachts duo of Francois Pinelli and Saul Bubacco was engaged in a fierce battle with Abu Dhabi for third. It was one they eventually won, when Abu Dhabi pushed a little too hard and eventually succumbed to engine trouble.
The Hoorsenbuhs team of Tomaso Polli and Matteo Nicolini made the most of the gap and moved up to third for its second podium finish of the season. With that, the Italian team moved into third place overall in the series. The American pairing in Lady Spain—Jay Price and Shaun Torrente—finished ninth in its first race together.
Check out the slideshow above for more images from the XCAT World Series race in Portugal.
“It was a bit rough at the start, but we got control of it and after we got past the first buoy we concentrated for three laps to push a bit and get the gap and then relax a bit,” XDubai’s Bin Hendi explained after the race. “The changed course was definitely safer but coming out from the last buoy toward the checkered flag—that was the worst part. It was very bumpy so we were taking it easy because we were scared that something might break.”
The French Yachts duo were, meanwhile, ecstatic after its highest ever XCAT finish of second place.
“It was a very nice race, tough but we managed it very well,” Pinelli said. “The key was not to get emotional and to keep calm. We had a challenge with Abu Dhabi but we realized they were risking too much. The sea was not constant. We came across walls of waves, even three in a row, 1.5 meters high, but this is the ocean after all.”
XCAT racing now moves to another new venue as the fourth round of the series is scheduled for Gold Coast, Australia (Aug. 21-23). Then it’s on to Nice, France, in October before the final two rounds take place in the UAE (Dubai and Abu Dhabi) in November.
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