Dubai: Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al Tayer and Majed Al Mansoori made a significant move in their bid to capture the 2021 UIM XCAT World Championship by securing pole position for race one in the Dubai Grand Prix on Thursday.
Al Tayer and Al Mansoori in Abu Dhabi 5 will now have the Friday starting advantage over leaders Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir Bin Hendi in Dubai Police for the first of the back-to-back Grand Prix races that decide this year’s shortened XCAT championship.
Al Zaffain and Nadir Bin Hendi go into the final race weekend of the season leading Abu Dhabi 5 by 13 points, but any thoughts that the title battle was all but over were quickly dispelled during the Grand Prix qualifier off Dubai’s Sunset Beach.
Edging out the Dubai Police crew by a 10th of a second to earn pole position, Al Tayer and Al Mansoori, who were also fastest in the morning official practice session, carry a great deal of momentum into the weekend. They must aim for a double race victory in Dubai to have any chance of emerging as XCAT world champions, and the stage is set for a dramatic climax to the season following last week’s triple-race date in Fujairah.
“That was just what we needed,” said Al Tayer. “We gave everything, and got the result we wanted. Now all we are thinking about at the moment is to go all out tomorrow to get maximum points. We have all the team behind us and we’re looking forward to the weekend.”
Teammates Shaun Torrente and Faleh Al Mansoori in Abu Dhabi 4, the 2018 XCAT world champions, qualified in fourth place fractionally adrift of Tomaso Polli and Matteo Nicolini in Six.
Torrente, a committed team player and two-times F1H2O world champion, has been giving valuable input into the fine-tuning and preparations of Abu Dhabi 5, and he and Al Mansoori will also be aiming to lift Abu Dhabi 4 into a final podium finish on Saturday.
Action resumes off Sunset Beach on Friday with official practice starting at 10 am with the opening race roaring to life at 2.30pm.