Dubai: Dubai-based Victory Team has upped the ante with a second boat for next week’s final two races of the 2017 UIM XCAT World Championship in Dubai.
The existing line-up of 11 boats will be joined by the experienced Gary Ballough along with Ahmad Al Hameli in a new Victory Team boat when the last two races are held off the Mina Seyahi waters of Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) from November 30 to December 2.
Victory Team — champions in all five seasons since the introduction of this class of powerboat racing — already has one boat with Salem Al Adidi and Eisa Al Ali on board in Boat No. 3. The 60-year-old Ballough — who used to race alongside Omar Daniel from Switzerland — and Al Hameli’s new boat will have No. 33 on it after being put together at the team base in Jebel Ali.
Al Adidi and Al Ali were off to a flying start while winning both rounds of the Zhengzhou Grand Prix. However, they took a sixth and second in the next two rounds at the Weihai Grand Prix. And even as other boats came to terms with their first time competing under the UIM banner, Victory Team took fourth in the fifth round, while the sixth round in Xiamen was cancelled due to bad weather.
“It’s like a dream come true for me,” American Ballough told Gulf News after being welcomed into the fold by Victory Team Chairman Huraiz Al Mur Bin Huraiz, on Tuesday.
“I am very excited to be in blue at last. I’ve made some fantastic friends here, and now to race alongside one of them is an absolute pleasure for me,” he added.
Going into the final two races of the final round, at least six teams are within striking distance of winning the world crown. The Victory Team boat stands second overall with 137 points — just eleven behind Australian pair of Brett Luhrmann and Pal Virik Nilsen in The Blue Roo — and the Abu Dhabi duo of Rashid Al Tayer and Majid Al Mansouri are lurking behind in third with 116 points. Still in with a mathematical chance is the 222 Offshore team of Giovanni Carpitella and Joakim Kumlin along with Erik Stark and Mickael Bengtsson in Swecat and defending champions Arif Al Zafein and Nader Bin Hindi.
Coming into the last two races, Ballough has had a busy season back home while winning the National title in the Super Stock Class (6 litre engine class). “You can expect both of us to do our best. I will give every bit of experience to the new boat and stay out of trouble,” Ballough related.
“The XCATs are the best in the world and I am convinced they are the best suited substitute for Class 1 racing. And with the UIM taking this class under its wing from this season, things have only got better. I am looking forward to an exciting weekend of racing,” he added.
The first free practice session will be on Thursday, with both races due to start at 2.30pm on Friday and Saturday.
Name: Gary Ballough
Date of birth: March 14, 1957
Residence: Florida, USA
Profession: Racing boats
Occupation: Speed boat charter service
Family: Paige (26) — Daughter, also a racer