TEAM ABU DHABI’S AL-HAMELI AND AL- MANSOORI FINISH THIRD IN ITALIAN GRAND PRIX
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CERNOBBIO (Italy): Saturday, October 15, 2011: Team Abu Dhabi’s Ahmed Al-Hameli and Majed Al-Mansoori finished race one of the Italian Grand Prix, round three of the UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship, in third position on Lake Como on Saturday.
The new Emirati partnership qualified in third and maintained that position to the finish in a race where Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Nadir Bin Hendi qualified Victory 3 in pole position and led from start-to-finish to take a comfortable lead in both the World and European Championships into Sunday’s second Grand Prix.
The Team Abu Dhabi duo drove a measured race in their Victory-built hull, belying the fact that this was only their second appearance each in Class One racing. They will now be hoping to reach the podium for a second time this weekend during Sunday afternoon’s second race on Lake Como.
Al-Hameli and Al-Mansoori started the 12-lap race from third and a good position was crucial into the first turn. The top five boats maintained their starting order through the end of the first lap, with Victory 3 heading Spirit of Qatar 95 by 3.76s. Team Abu Dhabi was close on the Qatar boat’s wake, but slipped behind the leading two boats after lap two, where two boats opted to take the compulsory long lap and Poliform was penalised with a penalty lap.
Team Abu Dhabi began to pull away from fourth-placed Spirit of Qatar 96 after three laps, but was now running 26.95s behind the leading Victory 3 boat. The Qatar boat closed the gap on the subsequent lap in cool, cloudy conditions, but opted for a long lap soon afterwards and Team Abu Dhabi was back in control of third place.
But the top three opted for the long lap on the subsequent tour of the course and Al-Hameli and Al-Mansoori saw their grip on third place reduced to just 3.44s heading into lap seven. They regained two seconds on the next lap and began lap nine well clear of Spirit of Qatar 96, after the rival boat noticeably slowed on lap eight. The surviving six boats held station on lap nine, where Team Abu Dhabi closed to within 8.09s of second-placed Spirit of Qatar 95.
But there was no way through for Al-Hameli and Al-Mansoori and they finished the race in third position, 51.25s behind the triumphant Victory 3 and 10.25s adrift of second-placed Spirit of Qatar 95.
Al-Hameli and Al-Mansoori settled well in the Edox Pole Position qualifying session and qualified for the first race in third position with a fastest lap on the Lake Como course of 2m 54.01s. That was just 0.25s slower than second-placed Spirit of Qatar 95, but some distance behind Arif Al-Zafeen and Nadir Bin Hendi in the pole-winning Victory 3. The Team Abu Dhabi now trails Victory 3 by 16 points in the Edox Pole Position Championship heading to the final round in December and will need to take outright victory and hope something untoward happens to the Victory boat in qualifying to have any chance of taking the 2011 Edox Pole Position Championship.
Al-Hameli and Al-Mansoori ran for five laps in Friday’s first practice session and posted the third fastest time of 2m 56.46s behind Victory 3 and Spirit of Qatar 95. Team Abu Dhabi will be permitted a final practice stint on Sunday morning and the second Grand Prix will be staged from 14.30hrs (16.30hrs UAE time) on Sunday afternoon.
Italian Grand Prix – race 1 results
1. Arif Saif Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE) Victory 3 34m 05.39s
2. Ali Al-Neama (QAT)/Matteo Nicolini (ITA) Spirit of Qatar 95 @ 41.00s
3. Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE)/Majed Al-Mansoori (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 5 @ 51.25s
4. Hassan Al-Thani (QAT)/Steve Curtis (GBR) Spirit of Qatar 96 @ 1m 07.87s
5. Frank Hemelaer (BEL)/Luca Nicolini (ITA) FA.RO.ACCIAI 23 1 lap behind
6. Ugur Isik (TUR)/Christian Zaborowski (NOR) Relekta 91 1 lap behind
Bjorge Jacobsen(NOR)/Kurt Olsen (NOR) Welmax 90 DNF – 4 laps only
Guido Cappellini (ITA)/Giampaolo Montavoci (ITA) Poliform 74 DNF – 3 laps only