Dubai (UAE): Class 1 World Champions Nader Bin Hendi and Arif Al Zafeen maintained their remarkable 2010 season with win number eight in the opening race of the Emirates/Dubai Duty Free Grand Prix at Mina Seyahi yesterday (Friday).
The Fazza crew have dominated the Class One scene over the past few years and they underlined their supremacy with the 20th race win of their careers some 14 seconds ahead of Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashid Al Tayer and John Tomlinson with Italians Guido Cappellini and Giampaolo Montavoci just over eight seconds further adrift in third with GSG Ceramic Design.
It’s a win that continues their rise through Class 1’s Hall of Fame – now only British racing legend Steve Curtis (40 wins) and Norwegian pilot Bjorn Gjelsten (34) are ahead of them in the modern era.
“With the World Championship already won, there was no pressure on us to win in Dubai,” said throttleman Bin Hendi. “But we wanted to go out and put on a show and that’s exactly what we did. It was a perfect race for us.”
Such was their brilliance, Bin Hendi and Al Zafeen even managed to lap two of the field before taking the chequered flag in the 51.07Nm race. It also makes them hot favourites to win the last race of the championship today (Saturday) and take them a step closer to Curtis and Gjelsten.
“When I first started, Steve Curtis was a hero of my mine,” added Bin Hendi. “When I finally met him, I asked how I could get to be where he is in the sport. He obviously believed we were good enough because he said ‘take your time and you’ll get there.’ Now we’re up with these guys it’s a great feeling.”
While the Fazza crew were celebrating yet another stunning performance, there was jubilation in the Welmax camp after Kolbjorn Selmer and Jorn Tandberg became the first all-Norwegian crew to win the EDOX Pole Position World Championship.
Their red cat wrapped up its fifth straight qualifying win but could not translate that in to a podium finish – Welmax came home in fourth spot.
For third place Montavoci, a podium finish was more than he expected on his 51st birthday. “We had engine trouble in Pole Position and basically threw the engine back together just hoping to do one lap and then come back to the pits,” he said.
“But as we went out for the parade lap, the engine starting running really well and we thought we could give it a try. To get third place is unbelievable but it was all down to the great start. Out at sea we were quicker than Team Abu Dhabi but on the flat inshore section, the engine was only about 80% of what they have.”
Despite celebrations for Fazza, for teammate Mohammed Al Marri it wasn’t such a great day alongside Giorgio Manuzzi in SkyDive Dubai. The pair struggled to make any impression on the race and could only finish down the field in seventh spot.
“The props were wrong for the conditions out at sea and we really struggled racing into the wind,” said two-time world champion Al Marri. “But it’s a new boat and we are still getting used to it. It’s another day tomorrow and we’ll be back to improve on what happened today.”
The final race of the UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship – round two of the Emirates/Dubai Duty Free Dubai Grand Prix – gets underway today (Dec 11) with the 68.56Nm race starting at 3.30pm at Mina Seyahi.
Result – Race 1 Emirates/Dubai Duty Free Dubai Grand Prix
1. Fazza – Bin Hendi/Al Zafeen (UAE) 34m:39.78s
2. Team Abu Dhabi – Al Tayer/Tomlinson (UAE/USA) +14.25s
3. GSG Ceramica Design – Cappellini/Montavoci (I) +22.79s
For further information: Alan Ewens, Victory Team Press and Media Manager. Tel: +97150 4514188. Alan2804@emirates.net.ae