Dubai: Teams from the UAE will be looking for a strong start as the XCAT World Series gets under way in China this weekend.
A field of 14 boats has registered for the opening round of the series to be held in Zhengzhou, China, on a narrow, tight circuit, on the flat waters of Long Hu (Dragon Lake). The field is led by reigning world champion and former Victory Team driver Aref Al Zaf’fein in the company of Scott Williams from Great Britain, with a completely new set-up and boat managed by Rory Power.
But challenging the multiple world champion will be a fleet of boats including Victory Team, Team Abu Dhabi, Swecat Racing, a couple of teams from Italy along with entries from Australia, Russia, Spain and Kuwait and the new 222 Offshore Team carrying the name of local organisers, Baia Blu d’Oriente.
Now being run under the auspices of world governing body UIM, organisers have assembled a four-race calendar that will see three back-to-back Chinese races in Zhengzhou (October 13-15), Weihei (October 20-22) and Xiamen (October 27-29) followed by a finale in Dubai to coincide with the UAE National Day celebrations in December.
This weekend’s Zhengzhou Grand Prix marks a welcome return to the calendar for offshore racing after the UIM Class One racing series failed to find a regular promoter and the UIM took control of XCAT racing and announced a four-race calendar for the last few weeks of the racing season.
The opening two races at Zhengzhou will be staged on Longhu Lake in the Zhengdong New District and will run under the control of Chinese promoter Baia Blù D’Oriente (BBDO) with the permission of the Chinese Motorboat Association (CMA).
Team Abu Dhabi has entered just one boat out of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) with the experienced Rashid Al Tayer and Majid Al Mansouri Abu Dhabi 5, while Faleh Al Mansouri has travelled to China as reserve driver.
Salem Al Adidi and Eisa Al Ali will be representing Victory in their Dubai 33 boat, while the Swedish pairing of Mikael Bengtsson and Erik Stark will be in their Swecat boat among the main challengers when action gets under way with the Pole Position qualifying from 10.30am (6.30am UAE) on Saturday, while the first of two Zhengzhou Grand Prix fires into life at 15.30 (11.30am UAE).
A second official practice session will be permitted from 11am (7am UAE) on Sunday morning and precedes the second Zhengzhou Grand Prix starting at 14.30 (10.30am UAE).