x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

'Just the way we wanted to start our season,' says bin Hendi

From the restart al Zafeen and bin Hendi immediately opened up a lead and went on to take a 22nd career victory and win a reduced nine lap, race 1 of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix by 16 seconds.

Arif al Zafeen and Nadir bin Hendi made the perfect start to the defence of their world title, winning race 1 of a dramatic Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that saw Relekta crash out on lap four and the race red-flagged.

Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al Thani and Steve Curtis marked their return to Class 1 by bringing Spirit of Qatar 96 home in second, with Fendi Racing's Luca Fendi and Giovanni Carpitella completing the podium.

Al Zafeen and bin Hendi made a strong start, passing pole-sitters Team Abu Dhabi to lead at the end of lap 1.

By the end of lap 3, Victory 3 had opened up a comfortable 15-second lead over Team Abu Dhabi's Rashed al Tayer and John Tomlinson. Spirit of Qatar 96 moved into third and Relekta's Ugur Isik and Christian Zaborowski were up to fourth.

But their race ended in spectacular fashion half-a-lap later when they rolled Relekta to bring out the red flag, ending what had been an impressive race weekend debut for the new pairing.

From the restart al Zafeen and bin Hendi immediately opened up a lead and went on to take a 22nd career victory and win a reduced nine lap, race 1 of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix by 16 seconds.

"We pushed hard from the start and the most important thing was to get in front by the first turn, which we did," said bin Hendi. "The boat ran well and we were always comfortable, even after the race was stopped. We knew we could stay ahead even though we still had to take our long lap. The win is just the way we wanted to start our season."

Team Abu Dhabi's hopes of adding a podium to their win in the morning's qualifying ended when they took their long lap and were passed by both Spirit of Qatar 96 and Fendi Racing, both teams taking their long laps before the red flag was raised.