ABU DHABI: Arif Al-Zaffain and Nadir Bin Hendi in Fazza secured victory in the opening round of the new UAE Class 3 Offshore Powerboat Championship in Khor Fakkan on Friday.
Starting from pole position, Al-Zaffain and Bin Hendi slipped down the field with some early problems but fought back to win by 17.41 seconds from Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Tayer and Majed Al-Mansoori in Abu Dhabi 5.
Sharjah Team’s Konstantin Ustinov and Dmitry Vandyshev, who held the lead for much of the 13-lap race, finished third, ahead of Faleh Al-Mansoori and Mohammed Al-Matlae in Abu Dhabi 4.
Staged by Sharjah International Marine Sports Club as part of the Khor Fakkan Marine Festival, the first race in the new Class 3 series will be followed by further rounds in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.
With the UAE hosting back-to-back powerboat racing events, Sharjah now takes center stage, and Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente has served early notice of his intention to win Sunday’s final round of the 2023 F1H2O world championship on Khalid Lagoon.
The three-time F1H2O world champion has already seen his title snatched away this year by Sweden’s Jonas Andersson but is focused on another big finish in Sharjah.
Torrente, who secured each of three world titles on the spectacular Khalid Lagoon circuit, recorded the second fastest times in both of today’s free practice sessions, as Italian Alberto Comparato and later Andersson set the early pace in perfect conditions.
Making his first F1H2O start in five months, Torrente will now look to use his fierce competitiveness to claim pole position in tomorrow morning’s three-part qualifying session.
“I’m going for the win, and at the same time, it’s all about learning for next season,” he said. “We’re looking to develop the boat and the program to be ready to hit the ground running next year and to make a big push.”
Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashid Al-Qemzi, stepping up again to F1H2O racing after clinching his fourth F2 world title earlier this year, was fifth fastest in today’s final free practice session after clocking the seventh best time in the extra session earlier in the afternoon.