Needing victory to win the UIM Class 1 world championship title, Victory 3 led from start to finish yesterday to take the chequered flag in yesterday’s Dubai Grand Prix.
The Victory 3 crew of Arif Al Zafeen and Mohammed Al Marri, who also won the first race of the weekend on Friday, have now won both the Middle East championship and the world title this season.
They needed to win to overtake both Spirit of Qatar boats after being stripped of their Italian Grand Prix title and the championship points they earned because throttleman Nadir bin Hendi was found to have failed an anti-doping test.
In the end they won by 55 seconds, with Spirit of Qatar 96 in fourth and Spirit of Qatar 95 in eighth.
“To be able to produce two races like that is something special,” said Al Zafeen. “We pushed hard all through the race and took some risks.”
Bin Hendi, who was replaced by Al Marri for the weekend, yesterday issued a statement denying taking any banned substances.
He claimed the UIM, the sport’s governing body, went back on a promise to give him two weeks to prove his innocence by issuing a statement on Friday to say he had committed a doping offence.
Bin Hendi went further as to accuse the UIM of breaking its own rules and the World Anti-Doping Code by releasing the statement. The Emirati said he intends to fight his corner and has already enlisted a lawyer.
Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashid Al Tayer and throttleman Majed Al Mansoori finished second overall in yesterday’s final race of the season.
“We both did a very good job today and I am very pleased to have my first podium with Majed,” said Al Tayer. “Victory was too strong for us for sure but we ran a good set-up and had no problems.”
Al Tayer and Al Mansoori made a good start and were always secured in second place, their cause helped no end by Victory 3’s title rivals Spirit of Qatar 95 being forced to start from the pits after suffering a last minute engine problem.
Spirt of Qatar 95’s Ali Al Neama and Matteo Nicolini had to join the race three laps down and came home in eighth place, while Spirit of Qatar 96 suffered steering problems.
“It was the worst ever grand prix for the Qatar Team,” said Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al Thani, driver for Spirit of Qatar 96. “We had the steering lock on us four times and we had to stop to unlock it each time and it cost us so much time. It was the same problem as yesterday.
“Ali and Matteo couldn’t start an engine before the start and they had their own nightmare. Still, we were second and third in the championship and there is always next year.”