Team Abu Dhabi will go hard for a winning start to the 2019 UIM XCAT World Championship in Stresa, Italy this weekend after securing the first of four major powerboat racing titles in their sights this season.
With three of six rounds provisionally included in the XCAT series still to be affirmed in China, defending champions Faleh Al Mansoori and Shaun Torrente in Abu Dhabi 4 know a victory in the Grand Prix of Italy will give them a huge advantage.
“It’s considerably more significant than normal to make a winning start because we’re not sure how many rounds there will be,” said Al Mansoori. “If some are lost, it will make every point more valuable.
“Obviously it’s going to be difficult for us to take the title again because everyone wants to beat the world champions, but we’re ready for the challenge. As professional drivers we’re going to give everything we possibly can to win the championship again.
“Shaun and I have a good relationship which allows us to work well together, to know the boat, to assess the different conditions we face and to get the best out of each other.”
Faleh Al Mansoori and Torrente are joined in Italy by Rashed Al Tayer and Majed Al Mansoori in Abu Dhabi 5, and all four are almost literally on the crest of a wave after their part in Team Abu Dhabi’s double triumph in the World Endurance Championships in Poland last weekend.
Back-to-back race wins shared by the two Abu Dhabi boats and first and second places overall in the championships was the first step towards a quadruple world title triumph this season.
This weekend the team will have only the XCAT series in focus before their attention switches back to the UIM F2 championship for rounds in Norway, Italy and Portugal between 2nd August and 15th September.
Rashed Al Qemzi leads the title race after winning the opening round in Lithuania while ruling F1H20 champion and current pioneer Torrente anticipates confirmation of the next round due at the end of September before the series moves on to China a week later.
The XCATs take to the water in Stresa for official practice starting at 11.20am local time on Friday, with the pole position race following 24 hours later prior to race one of the Grand Prix of Italy beginnings at 5.20pm. Sunday brings official practice at 12.10pm with the second Grand Prix race roaring to life at 5.20pm.