Maximum points from this weekend’s first-ever Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, round five of the UIM-WPPA Class 1 World Powerboat Championship, for Victory 1 or Fazza, would secure a remarkable ninth World title for Dubai’s Victory Team. However, should either hit major problems, they will leave the door slightly ajar for Maritimo and Welmax, their main title challengers, to reduce the gap at the top of the World Championship standings.
Victory Team has won all six races this season: Victory 1 two and Fazza four, but it is Victory 1 who currently leads the title race from Fazza by just four points, with the experienced Jean-Marc Sanchez once again guiding a Class 1 ‘rookie’ to a title in his first season, winning the European Championship in Stresa alongside Mohammad Al Mehairi. But Victory 1 knows it will be a daunting task to stave off the challenge they will face from team-mates and rivals, Fazza, who on their day are the outfit to beat. Fazza lead the Middle East and Edox Pole Position Championships, and will be eager to regain the top spot in the overall Championship standings, which they have held twice this season, as they close in on a possible hat-trick of titles.
Maritimo’s Tom Barry-Cotter and Pal Virik Nilsen will be driven men in Abu Dhabi as they look to continue their march to the top step of the podium, and are still likely to be smarting after seeing their maiden Grand Prix win in Stresa dissolve into second place after being handed a late, post-race long-lap time penalty.
While a win or podium-finish and closing the points-gap to Victory 1 and Fazza is their target, at the same time the young Australian-Norwegian pairing will have to ward off the attentions of two other hard-charging Norwegians, Kolbjorn Selmer and Jorn Tandberg in Welmax, who are enjoying a rich vein of form and gelling as a partnership. Both outfits have traded podium places - three apiece - and race positions this season, with Maritimo currently holding the upper hand, with a three-point advantage in third place.
Outside of the top four but looking to take advantage of any slip-ups, eighteen points separate Foresti & Suardi-Roscioli Hotels, Giorgioffshore, Victory 77 and C.A.M.
Giampaolo Montavoci will run an unchanged line-up in Foresti & Suardi-Roscioli Hotels with fellow Italian, Roberto Lo Piano, taking the wheel for only his second Grand Prix. Currently fifth in the overall Championship standings, Forest & Suardi Roscioli Hotels will make his 90th race start in Abu Dhabi and will be looking to maintain his run of reliability and finishing in the points in every race in 2009 and to defend the position as leading Italian Team and Pilot.
With Kurt Olsen unavailable to race for the remainder of the season, Giorgioffshore throttleman, Nicola Giorgi, will swap one Norwegian driver for another and rekindles his partnership with Christian Zaborowski for the remaining two Grands Prix and four races of 2009. Giorgi and Zaborowski teamed up for the first time in the BMW Norwegian Grand Prix in Arendal earlier this year, posting credible top-six times in practice and qualifying, but were forced to retire from the race on lap 5 whilst running in sixth place. Giorgioffshore target in Abu Dhabi will be to build on an already solid season, which has seen the Italian take one fourth and three fifth-place finishes.
After joining the Championship in Romania, Victory 77 will look to add to their impressive podium and two fourth-place finishes, with Abdullah Al Mehairbi and Mohammed Al Marri knowing that they can play a valuable role and assist their team-mates in securing the title by finishing ahead and taking points away from their nearest rivals.
Spanish Team, Duemme Broker, has confirmed that Ahmad Al Hameli will make his Class 1 debut in Abu Dhabi. Al Hameli, 30, who was born and lives in Abu Dhabi, has competed in wooden powerboat racing, Class 3, 6 Litre, the F2000 President’s Cup and now races for the Abu Dhabi F1 Powerboat Team; he will partner the experienced Italian throttleman, Giovanni Carpitella, in the V8 Mercury-powered C.A.M. Carpitella, who finished fourth in the season opener in Qatar and fifth in both races in the Italian Grand Prix, his only starts this season, will draw on his vast powerboat experience to guide Al Hameli on his debut in front of the U.A.E. national’s home crowd.
First official practice takes place on Thursday afternoon (19 November), with a one-and-a-half hour session on Friday morning for official practice and qualifying in the Edox Pole Position, followed by race 1 in the afternoon, 53.63Nm - 11 laps, including two long laps. A third official practice session on Saturday morning will be followed by race 2 in the afternoon - with the starting line-up determined by the results of race 1 - 72.28Nm, run over 15 laps, including three long laps - with both races counting for full Championship points.
CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP - after round 4 of 6
1. 1 Victory - 95pts
2. 3 Fazza - 91pts
3. 11 Maritimo - 55pts
4. 90 Welmax - 52pts
5. 8 Foresti & Suardi-Roscioli Hotels - 41pts
6. 18 Giorgioffshore - 36pts
7. 77 Victory - 34pts
8. 10 C.A.M. - 23pts
9. 96 Qatar - 15pts
10. 12 Maritimo - 12pts
11. 95 Qatar - 4pts
MIDDLE EAST CHAMPIONSHIP - after round 1 of 3
1. 3 Fazza - 20pts
2. 96 Qatar - 15 pts
3. 1 Victory - 12pts
4. 10 C.A.M. - 9pts
5. 18 Giorgioffshore - 7pts
6. 8 Foresti & Suardi-Roscioli Hotels - 5pts
7= 95 Qatar - 0pts
11 Maritimo - 0pts
90 Welmax - 0pts
12 Maritimo - 0pts
77 Victory - 0pts
EDOX POLE POSITION CHAMPIONSHIP - after round 4 of 6
1. 3 Fazza - 64pts
2. 1 Victory - 56pts
3. 95 Qatar - 35pts
4. 90 Welmax - 34pts
5. 11 Maritimo - 28pts
6. 96 Qatar - 24pts
7. 18 Giorgioffshore - 17pts
8. 77 Victory - 14pts
9= 12 Maritimo - 11pts
9= 8 Foresti & Suardi-Roscioli Hotels - 11pts
11. 10 C.A.M. - 9pts