Friday, 6 November, ABU DHABI (UAE): Gary Ballough and John Tomlinson overcame a heart-stopping moment on lap 3 when they were forced to shut down an engine, before restarting and going on to finish second in the final race of the season at the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi to win the UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship.
Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir bin Hendi ended the season with their first win of the year to secure the championship runner’s-up slot, with teammates Darren Nicholson and Matteo Nicolini finishing the race in third.
Sitting just eight points off the leaders [Abu Dhabi 6] at race start Luca Fendi and Giovanni Carpitella’s title hopes faded early after getting caught out at the start, eventually making up ground in T-Bone Station to take fourth ahead of Rashed Al Tayer and Majed Al Mansoori in Abu Dhabi 5 and clinch third overall in the championship standings.
There was frustration for Niclas Johansson and Christian Zaborowski, who limped- home two laps down after losing power on one engine on lap 8.
Starting from second place and sandwiched between both Victory boats, Victory 3 on their inside, Ballough and Tomlinson matched the outgoing world champions in a breath taking drag race to the first turn, eventually inching ahead to take control of the corner and have the lead at the end of the first lap, Victory 3 in second ahead of their teammates.
The Abu Dhabi crew looked to be in control for the opening laps when on lap 3 they suddenly slowed handing the lead to Victory 3. Fortunately Ballough and Tomlinson recovered and were able to get back in the race and stay ahead of a fast-approaching Victory 7.
For the remaining eight laps the front three ran line astern with Al Zaffain and Bin Hendi taking the Victory. “It was a tough race. Our set-up was good and we pushed from the beginning but we lost out at the start, but got the lead after a couple of laps. I am happy when I win in Abu Dhabi.” Said Al Zaffain
Behind them history was in the making as Ballough and Tomlinson eased across the line to take the chequered flag in second place to secure a first Class 1 World Powerboat title for Team Abu Dhabi, on home waters at their own Grand Prix. “This is a great day for Abu Dhabi. I am very honoured to be representing them,” said Tomlinson after winning the world title for the second time, his first 18 years ago in 1997. “It was calmer than I thought it was going to be and it didn’t rough up. We got a really good run at the start, made the first corner and were able to run at the front for a couple of laps.
“Then as we went around the turn on the outside leg one engine went into guardian mode with a turbo over heat. We had no throttle so had to pull it back put the engine into neutral to let the RPM drop to clear the code. We were able to put it back in gear, throttle up and got going again but we lost about ten seconds. From that point it was all about focus and getting to the end. It’s an awesome day especially for Abu Dhabi.”
Today’s outcome ends an eight year championship winning streak for Victory Team, with Marine Technology Inc becoming the first different manufacturer other than Victory to win the title in 12 years. “It was a great race but that little technical problem was a bit nerve-racking,” said Abu Dhabi team manager and owner of MTI, Randy Scism. “Johnny [Tomlinson] called me and said do you want us to catch him. I said no stay there and finish the race for us. So the guys settled in for second. To become the first different manufacturer to win after so many years is great. We work hard on our boats and to bring the boats over here and compete against the best team in the world and succeed is impressive for us.”
In V1 the day and the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi belonged to Italian outfit Karelpiu who added to their Pole Position Championship and race success yesterday, with Federico Montanari and Antonio Schiano completing the win-double in race 2 to secure the V1 World Powerboat Championship. “It was a very tough race especially at the beginning because Bernico was very fast, but we stayed on his back for four laps and then hit the front when they had a problem.”
With Bernico-New Star stopping on lap four the door was also left open for Silverline’s Ian Blacker and Drew Langdon to grab their second podium of the weekend in only their first outing in the championship, Chaudron failing to get out on the water after breaking yesterday.