Victory’s Arif Al Zafeen and Nadir bin Hendi completed the perfect weekend winning race 2 of the Italian Grand Prix to clinch the 2011 Class 1 European Championship in an incident-filled afternoon which saw Italians Luca Formilli Fendi and Giovanni Carpitella crash out.
It was another masterful display by the Victory pairing to mark their 25th career wins and retain their title, dominating from the start and going 50 seconds clear of Team Abu Dhabi and a distant chasing pack when the race was red flagged and bringing out the pace boat after Fendi Racing’s day ended in dramatic fashion, hooking and then rolling on lap seven, both Fendi and Carpitella emerging from the escape hatch in the upturned hull unhurt.
The pace boat led the fleet round for two laps before releasing them, with Al Zafeen and bin Hendi, asked to do it all again, and they did, immediately opening up a commanding lead and going on to take their fourth win of the year by over 20 seconds, completing the 16-lap, 70.92Nm race in 54mins 38.70secs.
The laps under the pace boat took their toll on Team Abu Dhabi, with yesterday’s third placed finishers Ahmed Al Hameli and Majed Al Mansoori pulling to the inside of the circuit and retiring from the race with technical problems.
For the tens-of-thousands of Italian powerboat fans who crammed into Cernobbio and lined the shores of Lake Como, the disappointment of seeing Fendi Racing’s exit soon changed when Poliform’s Guido Cappellini – who considers the lake to be his! – and Giampaolo Montavoci emerged after the restart in second place followed by Spirit of Qatar 96, Welmax and Spirit of Qatar 95 – both the Qatar outfits seeing their European title hopes fading fast.
After the frustrations of yesterday’s retirement it was an impressive turnaround by the all-Italian outfit, whose second place was never under pressure, taking their best result of the year and moving into fourth place in the overall Championship standings.
For the Spirit of Qatar Team it was an afternoon of mixed emotions, with Ali Al Neama and Matteo Nicolini enjoying an eventful afternoon, running in second spot for the opening three laps but were down in sixth place when the race was red flagged, then eventually clawing their way back up to third, passing their teammates Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al Thani and Steve Curtis on lap 11 – Welmax passed by both a lap earlier.
Whilst a good result for Al Neama and Nicolini, their second race podium of the weekend enough to move them into the runners-up spot in the European Championship, but at the expense of Sheikh Hassan and Curtis, who described it as ‘just one of those weekends when nothing went their way’ again missing out on the podium finishing in fourth place.
FA.RO. ACCIAI completed a more than satisfactory weekend on the team’s entry into the Championship, with the new partnership of Frank Hemelaer and Luca Nicolini again finishing well up in the points in fifth place. Welmax’s Bjorge Jacobsen and Kurt Olsen turned the tables on their Norwegian rivals to finish in sixth, ahead of Relekta’s Ugur Isik and Christian Zaborowski.
Today’s win for Al Zafeen and bin Hendi moves them into a commanding position in the World Championship standings and puts them 29-points clear of Spirit of Qatar 96 with the final Grand Prix of the season in Dubai on 8-10 December.
With 44 points on offer in Dubai the defending World Champions need just 15 as they bid to become the first Victory pairing to win the Grand slam of all four titles in a single season, the feat only ever achieved by Spirit Of Norway’s Bjorn Rune Gjelsten and Steve Curtis in 2003 and 2006.
ITALIAN GRAND PRIX, RACE 2 – results
1. 3 Victory – A Al Zafeen (UAE) / N Bin Hendi (UAE) 00.54.38,70
2. 74 Poliform – G Cappellini (MON) / G Montavoci (ITA) + 00.20,25
3. 95 Spirit of Qatar – A Al Neama (QAT) / M Nicolini (ITA) + 00.39,34
4. 96 Spirit of Qatar – H Al Thani (QAT) / S Curtis (ENG) + 00.48,76
5. 23 FA.RO. ACCIAI – F Hemelaer (BEL) / L Nicolini (ITA) + 02.13,28
6. 90 Welmax – B Jacobsen (NOR) / K Olsen (NOR) + 05.57,59
7. 91 Relekta – U Isik (TUR) / C Zaborowski (NOR) + 1 LAP
8. 5 Team Abu Dhabi – A Al Hameli (UAE) / M Al Mansoori (UAE) DNF
9. 10 Fendi Racing – L Formilli Fendi (ITA) / G Carpitella (ITA) DNF
18 MITI Tech Power – S Sardelli (ITA) / N Giorgi (ITA) DNS
UIM CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP – after race 5
1. 3 Victory – 103pts 2. 96 Spirit of Qatar – 74pts 3. 95 Spirit of Qatar – 66pts 4. 74 Poliform – 40pts 5. 5 Team Abu Dhabi – 38pts 6. 91 Relekta – 23pts 7= 10 Fendi Racing – 19pts 7= 90 Welmax – 19pts 9. 23 FA.RO. ACCIAI – 14pts 10. 50 Parsonage Racing – 8pts 11. 69 ferskfisken.no – 5 pts 12. 18 MITI Tech Power – 4pts
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP – after race 3
1. 3 Victory – 55pts 2. 95 Spirit of Qatar – 39pts 3. 96 Spirit of Qatar – 38pts 4. 74 Poliform – 24pts 5. FA.RO. ACCIAI – 14pts 6. 91 Relekta – 13pts 7= 5 Team Abu Dhabi – 12pts 7= 90 Welmax – 12pts 9. 69 ferskfisken.no – 5 pts 10= 10 Fendi Racing – 0pts 10= 50 Parsonage Racing – 0pts 10= 18 MITI Tech Power – 0pts
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