Team Abu Dhabi’s Faleh Al Mansoori and Shaun Torrente react after winning the race.
Team Abu Dhabi’s reigning XCAT World Champions Shaun Torrente and Faleh Al Mansoori began the defence of their title with a superb victory in the Italian Grand Prix on Saturday.
Starting race one in third place after the qualifying shoot out, Torrente and Mansoori in Abu Dhabi 4 held off a big challenge from Australians Tom Barry-Cotter and Ross Willaton in Maritimo.
The Dubai Police combination of Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir Bin Hendi took the third podium place on Lake Maggiore in Stresa while Rashed Al Tayer and Majed Al Mansoori in Abu Dhabi 5 finished in fifth position.
Earlier, Torrente and Mansoori in Abu Dhabi 4 were third fastest (2.27.616) in the qualifying shootout on Lake Maggiore which saw Australians Tom Barry-Cotter and Ross Willaton in Maritimo (2.26.426) grab pole position.
Pal-Virik Nilsen and Jan Trygve Braaten in The Blue Roo (2.26.753) were second fastest, while Tayer and Majed in Abu Dhabi 5 narrowly failed to progress from the first qualifying session after setting the sixth fastest lap.
Torrente, switching between the F1H20 series which he leads, last weekend’s World Endurance Championships where he was part of Team Abu Dhabi’s winning team, and the XCATS, takes everything in his stride.
“It’s a very hectic time but the order of the events is good for my style, F1 being first and obviously the most difficult and the most demanding,” he said.
“Last weekend my focus was on the endurance and this weekend all I’m thinking about is XCATS. I just switch my mind from one to the next.”
Tayer said: “My big aim ultimately is to win the world championship. But what makes Team Abu Dhabi so strong is how committed we all are to work together for the benefit of the team. We think as a team, not as individual drivers.
“Majed and I are very close, both in the boat and out of the water. We motivate each other.”
The XCATS return to the water at mid-day on Sunday for official practice before the decisive second Grand Prix race gets under way at 5.20pm.
The Stresa leg is the opening round of the championship and – after Italy – it will go for a long trip to China with no less than four legs scheduled.
The UIM XCAT World Championship raced already on Lake Maggiore in 2013 and 2014, when an enthusiastic presence from the public filled the shores of the Lake to attend some of the most thrilling races ever.
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