Team Abu Dhabi crew Rashed Al Tayer and Majed Al Mansoori in action during the race.
Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente and Faleh Al Mansoori have another UIM XCAT World Championship title within their grasp after a day of drama in China which saw Australians Tom Barry-Cotter and Ross Willaton complete back-to-back race wins.
Reigning world champions Torrente and Al Mansoori in Abu Dhabi 4 were promoted from fourth to third place in race three at the Shanghai Grand Prix at the expense of the Dubai Police crew, Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir Bin Hendi, who collected a 30 seconds time penalty for hitting a buoy.
The result means Torrente and Mansoori will carry a five-point lead over Al Zaffain and Bin Hendi into the final round of the series in Dubai where a tense three-way battle for the title is now guaranteed on Dec.12-14.
After a second race win in 24 hours, Barry-Cotter and Ross Willaton in Maritimo are just two points further adrift of Dubai Police and the XCAT series is set for a dramatic climax.
Making it an even more rewarding weekend for Team Abu Dhabi, Rashed Al Tayer and Majed Al Mansoori in Abu Dhabi 5 rounded off an impressive run of performances by repeating their previous day’s second place finish for a hat-trick of podiums on Shanghai’s Dishui Lake.
“As a team we are very happy with the way Abu Dhabi 5 ran all weekend,” said Torrente. “Rashed and Majed did an amazing job. We had so many problems. We broke two engines, a mid-section and had an accident at the start of the last race. To get a second, fifth and a third, we are thrilled to be going to Dubai with our future in our hands.”
Earlier, it’s Maritimo themselves to clinch the victory, with an amazing race won thanks to a perfect long-lap strategy and a hammer-like pace.
Starting in P2 behind Abu Dhabi 5 of Rashed Al Tayer and Majeed Al Mansoori (perfect pole position lap this morning for the Emirati crew), Barry Cotter and Willaton lose one position to Dubai Police but run a smooth and flawless race, taking their long laps in the right moments in order to have as much clear water as possible in front of them.
This means having the chance of taking the best trajectories around the buoys, and pushing to the limit all the time.
When finally Maritimo and Abu Dhabi 5 end their long laps, with Dubai Police back to third spot for a problem with a trim, it’s the Aussie team to be in the lead, with Al Tayer and Al Mansoori trailing by 5 seconds. No chance to overtake them anymore, given the speed of the Australian boat, so Tom Barry Cotter and Ross Willaton take their first win in XCAT since their comeback last year.
Dubai Police finishes third, same position they had on the grid, with the little disappointment of having lost P2 for a small technical issue. But Al Zaffein and Bin Hendi can celebrate anyway: as with this podium they jump to top of the overall ranking at 117 points.
Because, and that’s the unexpected twist, Abu Dhabi 4 finishes in P6. Torrente and Mansoori didn’t have the pace today, apparently for a problem with a coil which kept one cylinder dumb (no power to the spark plug means no combustion), but were able to maintain their fourth position thus the top spot in the championship.
But after the checkered flag the commissioners sanctioned them for missing a turning buoy during the race, dropping them down to sixth spot and to 12 points instead of 22. The final count says now 112 for the Amerian / UAE duo.
This penalty is good news for HPI Racing Team of the brothers Rosario and Giuseppe Schiano, and for Swecat with Erik Stark and Sebastian Groth, fourth and fifth respectively after a consistent race.
All the boats have finished today’s competition, which is good news considering the incidents and issues happened in the last two days: the positions 7 to 12 go to Kuwait, 222 Offshore, De Mitri, New Star Racing, Videx and Consulbrokers. They all get points for the championship.