22 June 2014, Stresa, Italy ñ An intriguing long lap battle and a maiden trip to the podium marked the fourth round of the UIM Skydive Dubai XCAT World Series in Stresa today.
While the winner may have been the same as the last three races, the battle to get there was certainly not quite as easy as in the previous rounds.
Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir Bin Hendi were taken by surprise at the start when the T-Bone Station combination of Luca Fendi and Giovanni Carpitella stormed into the lead. But a tactical move after the fifth lap saw the Fazza team taking their first of two mandatory long laps and eventually restoring their usual spot at the front of the pack, which they then held onto until the finish.
T-Bone Station finished second and the Yachts Magazines pair of Francois Pinelli and Saul Bubacco, who left their long laps to very late in the race, claimed their first ever XCAT podium place after finishing in third.
“In testing this morning we felt good, but we were surprised by boat number 10 [T-Bone Station]. They had a very good start, so we tried to push them. But after five laps, I told my driver we have to do the long lap because our radio man had told us our lap times were quicker than theirs” said Al Zaffain.
“After I did it, we saw that we were in front. And then we continued the rest of the race in this position so I am very happy and we want to say thanks to all the organisers here in Stresa.“
“Our goal in the Victory Team is always to take the Championship. After today’s race we really have a big points lead and I can say I’m 90 per cent sure the 2014 Championship is finished,“ added Al Zaffain, who together with Bin Hendi has indeed all but secured the overall Series title.
Speaking about their phenomenal start, which saw them leaping from fourth position to first, T-Bone Stationís Fendi explained: “We were challenging with the start boat. We were really concentrating on seeing the yellow flag and going together. We took it to the limit and then pushed to the limit when we saw the green flag.“
“The second they showed the green flag we already had good acceleration so that was the secret.”
As for the Yachts team, they were thrilled with their podium finish. Pinelli simply exclaimed: “It’s beautiful. I’m very happy.” Asked if they can produce a repeat performance at the next race of the Series, he added: “We never say never.”
The XCAT Series now moves to a new location for the fifth round ñ in Cascais, Portugal from 1-3 August.
After this afternoonís victory, Fazza have extended their lead at the top of the overall standings with 1600 points. Dubai (Salem Al Adidi and Jay Price) are second with 789 and T-Bone Station are third with 620. After their impressively improved performance in Stresa, Yachts Magazines are now in sixth spot with 405.