Eisa Al Ali and Salem Al Adidi
Eisa Al Ali and Salem Al Adidi will be keen to maintain their winning touch going into the third round of the 2019 OPA Championship Series in Sarasota, Florida, this weekend. Image Credit: Victory Team

Dubai: Victory Team are confident of continued success heading into the 35th Annual Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival being held at Lido Beach in Sarasota, Florida, this weekend.

As Sarasota prepares to celebrate 35 years of racing history, fans can hope to see at least 50 teams compete in four race categories with an expanded viewing area on Lido Beach.

The two leading race sanctioning organisations — the Offshore Powerboat Association (OPA) and Powerboat P1 — have formed a joint partnership for a new race series to deliver outstanding action and entertainment.

The Victory Team pair of Eisa Al Ali and Salem Al Adidi are presently at the top of the overall standings following their first place in Round Two in the Lake of the Ozarks last month to top up a second spot in the season opening race on Cocoa Beach in May.

However, the duo will have to be wary of ‘Miss Geico’, with James Sheppard and Steve Curtis at the helm, along with Giovanni Carpitella and Darren Nicholson in ‘222 Offshore’, Lucas Oil and new entrant Scuderia Cazzani.

“Everything will be down to concentration. We’ve got a great start to the season, and now we need to keep this momentum and also remained focused on the bigger task at hand,” Victory Team’s driver Eisa Al Ali told Gulf News from Sarasota.

“We’ve put in a lot of hard work while also paying attention to the smaller details so that there is no reason or excuse for us to underperform in the US,” he added.

Teammate Al Adidi was also concerned at the task at hand.

“It’s a good feeling to get inside the boat again. The main aim before both of us would be to further consolidate our position at the top of the overall standings. I feel Round Three is the most and winning it will help us target bigger goals for the season. But for the moment, we want to keep this lead,” Al Adidi remarked.

The key, according to Al Adidi, would lie in handling the elements.

“It doesn’t really matter to us if we have bigger waves or stronger winds. We’ve got to adapt and find a way to win the race,” he added.

On Saturday, action will get under way with a mandatory drivers’ meeting at 8.30am (4.30pm UAE) followed by registration and dunker testing on the boats. The drivers will then be allowed to take their boats out for testing between 8pm UAE and midnight.

Sunday’s racing will commence with the first race for the Class 1-7 category at 5.30pm UAE. The race for Class One and Vee Extreme boats has been scheduled for 10pm UAE, after which the presentation of trophies will be held at the Hyatt Regency Ballroom.

Sarasota is one of six race sites for the 2019 Offshore Powerboat Association Championship Series and will be followed by the next three races — St Clair (July 26-28), Michigan City (August 2-4) and the final one in Fort Myers (October 10-12).