Dubai: Eisa Al Ali and Salem Al Adidi of Victory Team are quietly confident of delivering across the Atlantic as they embark for the opening round of the P1 Super Stock powerboat calendar to be held on Cocoa Beach, Florida, this weekend.
Racing for the first time in the US last year, the two boats from Victory Team came up with some superb performances to end on the podium on a handful of occasions. This year, the Victory Team duo have Boat No. 3 to fall back on as they seek to improve on last season’s form.
“Last year was a learning curve for us. We had two boats competing at a world championship that had boats with engine power in excess of 4,000Hp. But we always believed we could deliver on the highest stage with the right attitude. At first, we struggled as the more powerful boats sort of over-shadowed us. But once we got the set-up right there was no stopping us,” Al Adidi told Gulf News from Florida.
“The experience we got from racing last year was important for our growth. This year we are in a much better position as organisers have put up new rules that stipulate all boats not to exceed 2,200Hp engines. So if we look at it, last season was more of a testing period for Victory Team and we can hit the ground running this weekend,” he added.
The six-venue championship will kick-off with the opener this weekend (May 17-19) with the ‘Thunder on Cocoa Beach’ followed by stops in Missouri, Michigan, Indiana and Florida through the end of the season. “Our aim is to succeed and raise the UAE flag wherever we race. We represent Dubai and at the same time we are UAE ambassadors wherever we compete,” Al Ali said.
“We start off with an advantage this season as we will not be struggling as far as the boat set-up goes. It will be tough for us as we will have to race during Ramadan, but therein lies the challenge,” he added.
For the first time this season, promoters Powerboat P1 will be partnering with the Offshore Powerboat Association (OPA) to promote the APBA Offshore Championship in the US.
Meanwhile, the UAE will mount a double challenge as Team Abu Dhabi and Victory Team set their eyes on top honours as the 2019 UIM F1H2O World Championship regroups in Portimao for the 18th Grand Prix of Portugal — Round Two of the Championships — from May 17-19.
Leading the Team Abu Dhabi challenge will defending champion Shaun Torrente along with Thani Al Qamzi while Victory Team’s charge will be led by former four-time world champion Alex Carella alongside Ahmad Al Hameli.
Known as the ‘European City of Sport for 2019’, Portimao held its first event in 1999. After a disappointing opening round following the cancelled opening round in Dammam, Saudi Arabia at the end of March, teams will now be looking at opening their accounts on the testing 1.937km Arade River Circuit.
Defending champion Torrente will be wary of two former four-time champions — Philippe Chiappe of CTIC F1 Shenzhen and Carella who now drives for Victory Team. Al Hameli is another with a good record in Portimao following his two pole positions and two race wins there, while Sharjah Team’s Sami Selio will also be looking to add to his two pole and three runners-up slots.
Action on the weekend will get under way with free practice and time trials for F4 drivers from 1pm (4pm UAE) followed by free practice for F1 boats from 2 to 3.30pm (6.30pm UAE) on Friday.
On Saturday, F1 and F4 drivers will head out to another free practice session on the 1.937km Arade River before the first F4 race at 1.55pm (4.55pm UAE) to be followed by the F1 Rebellion qualifying session from 2.30pm (5.30pm UAE). On Sunday, both F4 and F1 boats have an additional free practice before the second F4 race from 2.40pm (5.40pm) followed by the Grand Prix of Portugal from 3.30pm (6.30pm UAE).