Without an official promoter in place this year, the UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship has been placed on the back-burner, but the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) has stepped into the fray to keep the prestigious racing series out of the wilderness and the club will host a three-race, four-day UIM World Championship during November 21-25 off the Abu Dhabi Breakwater.
Class 1 racing is one of the most famous power boating disciplines in the world and it was an obvious step for the ADIMSC to step into the breach, according to Salem Al-Romaithi, assistant general manager of the club on Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi.
“At the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club we support a wide range of water sporting activities. Class 1 is a vital one of those,” said Al-Romaithi. “Class 1 is one of the most important of all the UIM racing disciplines and has a tremendous pedigree and history. We were keen to run a UIM World Championship, while it is in a transition year without a promoter in place. Team Abu Dhabi will have two boats out on the water, as we did when we won the title last year. The goal, of course, is to retain the title and lay down the solid foundations for the sport to return to the regular calendar in 2017.”
Indeed, Team Abu Dhabi made history last season when the American duo of Gary Ballough and John Tomlinson broke the Victory Team’s stranglehold on Class 1 silverware to confirm a first ever world title for Team Abu Dhabi at the second race off the Breakwater last November.
“The transition of the sport ahead of the appointment of a new promoter by the UIM means that Christian Zaborowski and Niclas Johansson were committed to other business projects and this has given an exciting opportunity for Ian to make his debut,” said Zabo Racing’s team manager Oivind Dreier Sivertsen.
Last season’s success for Team Abu Dhabi and their American-built MTi was the first non-Victory hull success for 12 seasons in Class 1 racing and it ended an eight-year winning streak for the Dubai-based team.
“Winning the title at the second race last year marked a great day for Abu Dhabi,” recalls Tomlinson, who had won the title himself back in 1997. “I remember, 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 and had to drop the rpm. We were able to put it back in gear, throttle up and get going again, but the focus was all about getting to the finish to secure that title.”
The format for the 2016 UIM World Championship will be three counting races over four days. After technical inspections Monday, pole position qualifying and races one, two and three will take place on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
Victory 3 started in pole position from Team Abu Dhabi 6 and Zabo Racing and the run out to the opening turn buoy would be crucial for the three starters after the original start was red-flagged. Victory stole the advantage and began to pull away down the back straight to take a 5.43-second lead into lap two.
Team Abu Dhabi closed the gap to just 2.46 seconds to set up a thrilling duel to the chequered flag. Team Abu Dhabi 5 was lowered into the water the first time just as Victory complete its sixth lap and the crew extended their lead over Team Abu Dhabi 6 to 9.3 seconds. The pendulum was swinging in the Dubai crew’s favour.
Team Abu Dhabi’s team manager Randy Scism decided against putting the number five boat into action because it was too late to score race points (70% of race distance needs to be completed) and mechanics worked at the pontoon to check the engine for Wednesday. By the start of lap eight, Victory’s lead was still nine seconds and it grew to 12.11 seconds after lap nine.
Team Abu Dhabi 6 slowed noticeably over the closing laps and Victory was able to reach the chequered flag with a winning margin of 1min 50.33sec, with Zabo Racing a distant third and lapped by Victory 3 metres from the flying finish.
2016 UIM Class 1 World Championship – Race 1 result (Tuesday - unofficial):
1. Victory 3 – Arif Saif Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE) 33min 33.81sec 20pts
2. Team Abu Dhabi 6 – John Tomlinson (USA)/Gary Ballough (USA) @1min 50.33sec 15pts
3. Zabo Racing-Relekta 91 – Giovanni Carpitella (ITA)/Ian Blacker (GBR) L1 12pts
Team Abu Dhabi 5 – Rashed Al-Tayer (UAE)/Majed Al-Mansoori (UAE) DNS 0pts
Aquasport 99 – Nick Huybens (BEL)/Daniel Cramphorn (GBR) DNS 0pts