December 6, 2011

Class 1 - Dubai U.A.E. Grand Prix 2011 Preview

Defending World Champions Arif Al Zafeen and Nadir Bin Hendi will line up for the final races of the year in the Skydive Dubai and Dubai Duty Free Grand Prix, 8-10 December, bidding to become the first Victory pairing to win the grand slam of all four titles in a single season.
The feat of winning the grand slam of World, European, Middle East and (Edox) Pole Position titles has only ever been achieved by Spirit of Norway’s Bjorn Rune Gjelsten and Steve Curtis who completed the clean sweep in 2003 and again in 2006.
The Emirati-duo lifted the European title at the Italian Grand Prix in Cernobbio in October and leads the overall World Championship standings on 103 points - 26 clear of Spirit of Qatar 96. They hold a ten point advantage, again over Spirit of Qatar, in the Middle East points table and carry a 13-point cushion over Spirit of Qatar 95 going into the final round of the Edox Pole Position Championship.
Al Zafeen and Bin Hendi top the in-house standings as the most successful Victory partnership. Both have won the World title three times and have 25 race wins to their names, 21 of them together from 28 starts after first teaming-up in 2008.
Despite winning in Norway and three podiums this season a somewhat disappointing weekend in Italy has left the Spirit of Qatar 96 duo of Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Steve Curtis with a mountain to climb and nothing less than two wins in Dubai - and their rivals hitting trouble - will give them a shot at the World title. They also face a mounting challenge from teammates, Ali Al Neama and Matteo Nicolini in Spirit of Qatar 95, who are improving as a partnership race-by-race, hold the in-house bragging rights in qualifying and who outperformed them in race 1 in Italy to take their third podium of the year.
Guido Cappellini and Giampaolo Montavoci lead a distant European challenge in Poliform in fourth place and are by far the best performing of the V8 runners. Despite still getting to grips with the modified DAC 40 the Italian duo are serious podium challengers, a point they emphasised on Lake Como finishing second in race 2, their best result of the year.
Team Abu Dhabi is enjoying a whirlwind season that has seen a new throttleman, Majed Al Mansoori, step in in Norway and an enforced driver change in Italy bring in F1H2O star Ahmed Al Hameli for the injured Rashed Al Tayer. Both the Emirati partnerships have produced exciting racing performances, with the team lying fifth in the points table after two fourth places and a podium in Italy. The team has confirmed that Rashed Al Tayer will return to the wheel in Dubai.
Two outfits looking to turn things around in Dubai are Fendi Racing and Zabo Racing, lying seventh and sixth respectively in the overall standings; the transition into their new Outerlimits hull has not been the smoothest for Italian duo Luca Formilli Fendi and Giovanni Carpitella nor the switch from V8 to SCAM V12s. After failing to start race 1 and then crashing out in race 2 in Italy, the pair will now be looking to deliver a solid points performance.
The same can be said for Zabo Racing’s Ugur Isik and Christian Zaborowski who have struggled in their move into the championship winning Victory hull with their V8s, but a double-points finish in Italy proved their reliability and the team now looks to up the pace and improve overall performance in Relekta.
Team D’Alessio-SCAM made a welcome addition to the Championship fleet in Italy with Belgium’s Frank Hemelaer and Italy’s Luca Nicolini delivering two very strong fifth placed finishes in FA.RO ACCIAI, but with Hemelaer unavailable the team has drafted in Italian Tomaso Polli.
Bjorge Jackobsen and Kurt Olsen teamed-up for the first time in Italy running under Welmax Offshore Racing colours in the Maritimo designed and built Welmax (2). The rookie pairing bounced back after technical problems in race 1 to take a deserved top six finish, and look likely to resume their partnership.
Giorgio Manuzzi and Pal Virik Nilsen will return to racing for the final Grand Prix of the year running in the former Fazza 3 as the second Victory Team entry.
The Italian-Norwegian partnership has endured a frustrating 2011 aligned with UK outfit Chris Parsonage Racing and lie tenth in the overall standings and seventh in the Middle East Championship, their only points coming in round one in Abu Dhabi after all but failing to get out on the water in Norway due to technical problems and missing the Italian Grand Prix in Cernobbio.
This year’s event will be the 34th Grand Prix staged in Dubai and the 43rd to be held during 20 years of racing in the United Arab Emirates.
Teams will get their first chance of an early run out to test the waters on a revised 4.53Nm course which runs inside and parallel to Palm Island, with first practice on Thursday afternoon.
Qualifying in the Edox Pole Position takes place on Friday morning followed by race 1 (start lap - 10 race laps - 1 long lap - 55.26Nm) of the Skydive Dubai and Dubai Duty Free Grand Prix at 14.00hrs. A final practice session on Saturday morning is followed by the final race (start lap - 13 race laps - 2 long laps - 73.86Nm including two long laps) of the year at 14.00hrs.
1.3 Victory - A Al Zafeen (UAE) / N Bin Hendi (UAE)103 pts
2.96 Spirit of Qatar - H Al Thani (QAT) / S Curtis (ENG)77 pts
3.95 Spirit of Qatar - A Al Neama (QAT) / M Nicolini (ITA)63 pts
4.74 Poliform - G Cappellini (MON) / G Montavoci (ITA)40 pts
5.5 Abu Dhabi - R Al Tayer (UAE) / M Al Mansoori (UAE)38 pts
6.91 Relekta - U Isik (TUR) / C Zaborowski (NOR)23 pts
7.10 Fendi Racing - L Formilli Fendi (ITA) / G Carpitella (ITA)19 pts
8=23 FARO ACCIAI - F Hemelaer (BEL) / L Nicolini (ITA)14 pts
8=90 Welmax (1) - K Selmer (NOR) / J Tandberg (NOR)14 pts
10.50 Parsonage Racing - G Manuzzi (SMR) / P Virik Nilsen (NOR)8 pts
11=90 Welmax (2) - B Jackobsen (NOR) / K Olsen (NOR)5 pts
11=69 - F Sundsdal (NOR) / B Jackobsen (NOR)5 pts
13.18 GiorgOffshore - N Giorgi (ITA) / T Polli (ITA)4 pts
1.3 Victory - A Al Zafeen (UAE) / N Bin Hendi (UAE)55 pts
2.95 Spirit of Qatar - A Al Neama (QAT) / M Nicolini (ITA)42 pts
3.5 Abu Dhabi - R Al Tayer (UAE) / M Al Mansoori (UAE)41 pts
4.96 Spirit of Qatar - H Al Thani (QAT) / S Curtis (ENG)23 pts
5.10 Fendi Racing - L Formilli Fendi (ITA) / G Carpitella (ITA)18 pts
6.74 Poliform - G Cappellini (MON) / G Montavoci (ITA)11 pts
7=91 Relekta - U Isik (TUR) / C Zaborowski (NOR)10 pts
7=90 Welmax (1) - K Selmer (NOR) / J Tandberg (NOR)10 pts
9=90 Welmax (2) - B Jackobsen (NOR) / K Olsen (NOR)5 pts
9=18 GiorgiOffshore - N Giorgi (ITA) / T Polli (ITA)5 pts
11.69 - F Sundsdal (NOR) / B Jackobsen (NOR)4 pts
12.23 FARO ACCIAI - F Hemelaer (BEL) / L Nicolini (ITA)2 pts
13.50 Parsonage Racing - G Manuzzi (SMR) / P Virik Nilsen (NOR)1 pts
1. 3 Victory Team - 40pts
2. 96 Spirit of Qatar - 30pts
3= 10 Fendi Racing - 19pts
3= 95 Spirit of Qatar - 19pts
5. 5 Team Abu Dhabi - 18pts
6. 74 Poliform - 10pts
7. 50 Parsonage Racing - 8pts
8. 18 GiorgiOffshore - 4pts
9. 90 Welmax (1) - 3pts
10. 91 Relekta - 2pt

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