Nader Bin Hendi and Arif Al Zafeen from Dubai crowned Class 1 European Powerboat offshore championship on Fazza 3

STRESA (Italy): World champions Arif Al Zafeen and Nader Bin Hendi were promoted to first place in the opening race at the Italian Grand Prix in Italy yesterday (Sat) following the news that Norway’s Jorn Tandberg and Kolbjorn Selmer were disqualified after celebrating what they thought had been their first win of the 2010 UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship in Stresa.

The Norwegians had qualified in pole position and subsequently held off the strong challenge of championship leaders Al Zafeen and Bin Hendi in Fazza to win by 23 seconds on the waters of Lake Maggiore. But post-race scrutineering revealed a discrepancy with the engines in Welmax and they were disqualified from both the Pole Position and race one of the Italian Grand Prix.

A bulletin, signed by WPPA Technical Director Patrick Heslop, referred to “Class 1 Event Rules Section J – 46. Restrictor, Blow Off Valve and Air Box Sizes and Specifications.”

It said: “Conformity of the air box tract seal will be checked using the official WPPA vacuum gauge applied to a running engine. Should the reading fail to reach -100 millibars, the induction tract seal will be considered illegal. Boat No 90 Welmax failed this test and this (sic) therefore disqualified from Pole Position and Race 1 of the 2010 UIM Class One Italian GP.”

The penalty means that the boats who finished behind Welmax in the race were moved up one position leaving Fazza as the winner followed by Guido Cappellini and Swiss throttleman Marcello Menegatto in Primatist with third place going to Skydive Dubai, crewed by Talib Al Sayed and Abdullah Al Mehairbi.

The win means Bin Hendi and Al Zafeen moved one step closer to clinching the European Championship after nearest rival Giovanni Carpitella could only take fifth place alongside Chris Parsonage in Negotiator.

“We’re not too disappointed with that,” said Bin Hendi, before discovering the fate of Welmax. “Welmax went like a rocket on the opening straight and we let them go hoping to catch them as the race went on. Unfortunately, the left trim was stuck, which cost us around 5mph and meant I had to slow down at the turns. But I don’t want to take anything away from Welmax – they were flying today.”

The result means Bin Hendi and Al Zafeen’s lead at the top of the World Championship is now 25 points over Al Sayed and Al Mehairbi.

“We had a few technical issues at the start of the race but we enjoyed it and will go away and prepare for tomorrow,” said Al Mehairbi. “I think we need to look closely at propeller choice but apart from that we are in good shape.”

With Carpitella and Parsonage picking up just seven points for fifth place, the standings in the race for the European crown – held in Norway, Sweden and Italy and decided after the second race of the Italian Grand Prix – sees Fazza open up a one point lead over Negotiator.

It means Al Zafeen and Bin Hendi will retain the European Championship for the UAE simply by finishing anywhere ahead of Negotiator in today’s race.

“The Class 1 World Championship is the ultimate goal and we are completely focused on retaining the title,” said Al Zafeen. “However, our great friends Jean Marc Sanchez and Mohammed Al Mehairi won the European Championship last year and it would be a great achievement for Nader and I to win it in their honour in 2010.”

Defending World Champions Nader Bin Hendi and Arif Al Zafeen of the UAE are the new Class 1 European Powerboat Champions after a flawless wire-to-wire victory at the Italian Grand Prix in Stresa – Race 2.

The Emiratis went into the 64.82Nm race with a narrow one point lead over their nearest title challengers but left them trailing in their wake by storming from pole position to the chequered flag at an average speed of 188.90kmph in what were grim racing conditions.

Battling low visibility and fog on the course, Bin Hendi and Al Zafeen won in a time of 39m:31.29s and fifteen seconds ahead of a titanic fight for second place ultimately won by Italian racing legend Guido Cappellini and Swiss co-pilot Marcello Menegatto just two seconds ahead of the Skydive Dubai pairing of Talib Al Sayed and Abdullah Al Mehairbi.

“That completes the set,” grinned a delighted Bin Hendi after lifting the first European title of his Class 1 career to add to his Middle East and World crowns. “We’ve been fighting a long time to win this so I’m relieved it’s finally in the bag. We had a big lead of over a minute at one stage and eased off the throttles.

“It allowed the others to catch up but we didn’t feel threatened. It’s a great feeling to have won this which we both want to dedicate to HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for his incredible support.”

While it was an imperious run by the new European Champions, it was a tricky day at the office for Al Sayed and Al Mehairbi who would surely have wrapped up second place had they not accrued long lap penalties for missing turn buoys.

However, from a lowly fifth place they fought back magnificently, even stealing third place from Welmax pair Jorn Tandberg and Kolbjorn Selmer less than 100 metres from the finish line.

“The support guys in the pits thought we were crazy for doing four long laps but we knew we had made a couple of mistakes out on the course and would be penalised so we decided to get them out of the way, one after the other,” said Al Sayed. “It meant we had to fight really hard with Welmax and Primatist to get on the podium but we did it and I’m proud if the way we fought back.”

For half the race it looked as if Rashed Al Tayer from Abu Dhabi and his US throttleman and former world champion John Tomlinson would claim second place in Team Abu Dhabi. Unfortunately, a blown motor put paid to their chances at the start of the ninth lap.

Also suffering technical problems were Giovanni Carpitella and Chris Parsonage in Negotiator who bowed out of the race on the 13th lap while holding fifth place – a result that ended their faint hopes of taking the European crown from Bin Hendi and Al Zafeen.

For the new European titleholders, however, there were no such problems and the Fazza crew have now increased their world championship lead to 33 points over Al Sayed and Al Mehairbi with just four races remaining.

“There will be no complacency from us,” added Bin Hendi after his 18th Class One career win. “Every race I enter is like the first one of my career – I always want to win and that won’t change over the next four races.”

Pictures show – Race start in Stresa, Nader Bin Hendi and Arif Al Zafeen after winning race two at the Italian Grand Prix in Stresa and the 2010 Class 1 European Powerboat Championship and the boat in action

Italian Grand Prix – Results Race 2

1. Fazza – Bin Hendi/Al Zafeen (UAE)                             39m:31.29s (187.46kmh)

2. Primatist – Cappellini/Menegatto (I)                             + 15.28s

3. Skydive Dubai – Al Sayed/Al Mehairbi (UAE)            + 17.52s

4. Welmax – Selmer/Tandberg (Nor)                                + 18.83s

5. Relekta – Zaborowski/Gaiser (Nor/Bra)                      + 1 lap

World Championship Standings

1.Fazza – Bin Hendi/Al Zafeen (UAE) 143 2. Skydive Dubai – Al Sayed/Al Mehairbi (UAE) 110 3. Negotiator – Parsonage/Carpitella (UK/I) 82 4. Primatist – Cappellini/Menegatto (I/CH) 72 5. Welmax – Selmer/Tandberg (Nor) 41

European Championship Standings

1.Fazza – Bin Hendi/Al Zafeen (UAE) 95 2. Negotiator – Parsonage/Carpitella (UK/I) 78 3. Skydive Dubai – Al Sayed/Al Mehairbi (UAE) 72 4. Primatist – Cappellini/Menegatto (I/CH) 51 5. Welmax – Selmer/Tandberg (Nor) 29

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For further information: Alan Ewens, Victory Team Media Manager. Tel: +97150 4514188. E-mail: alan2804@emirates.net.ae

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