Thursday, 13 March, DOHA (Qatar): Italy’s Stefano Paoletti produced two virtuoso performances completing the win-double in today’s two 24-lap Sprint Races.
But it was Team Belarus with consistent high points’ scores and podium finishes in the Match and Sprint Races who took overall honours to win the first round of the UIM Nations Cup World Series in Qatar by one point from Italy.
The Bin Kadri brothers completed a successful return to the series taking third place overall for Team Malaysia with the younger of the two Mohammad finishing second in both races, Alffian taking two fifths.
Today’s performances rounded off an all but perfect three days for the young Italian who posted the fastest time in qualifying and going on to win the Match Race. But with teammate Marco Gambi struggling with technical problems in race 2 and failing to post points, Italy had to settle for second place overall.
An incident-filled first race, interrupted by three yellow flag sessions, saw Italy’s Stefano Paoletti take the first win of the day finishing ahead of Malaysia’s Mohammad Bin Kadri, with Belarus’ Andrey Ovchinnikov in third ahead of teammate Dmitry Vandyshev.
Paoletti trailed Ovchinnikov through the first half of the race and two yellow flag periods, the first coming out on lap six when Russia’s Mikhail Kitashev crashed out, the second on lap nine when Bin Kadri [Mohammed) stopped, then restarted.
The Italian hit the front on lap 16 and began to stretch his lead moving eight seconds clear when the third yellow came out on lap 20 with the exit of the second Russian driver Dmitry Malkin, Paoletti leading the remaining seven boats to the chequered flag behind the safety boat.
Belarus, Malaysia and Russia traded places behind the race leader, Russia’s Dmitry Malkin moving into second place on lap 19 before his exit two laps later, with Mohammed Bin Kadri moving up from fifth to take second ahead of Ovchinnikov.
In race 2 Paoletti survived one nervy moment at the end of lap 12, but led from pole throughout to take a flag-to-finish win with Mohammad Bin Kadri producing another impressive performance keeping the pressure on the race leader and the gap to two seconds and finishing in second.
Team Belarus switched their drivers Dmitry Vandyshev replacing Ovchinnikov to line up alongside brother Roman, who passed Qatar’s Khaild Al Kuwari on lap 9 and ran a lonely second half of the race to finish a distant third, over 40 seconds behind the race winner.
Al Kuwari and Malaysia’s Alffian Bin Kadri then enjoyed a close tussle with the Doha driver hanging on to take fourth, with Dmitry Vandyshev handed a yellow card and retiring from the race on lap 20 from sixth place, but picking up 15 valuable points.
SPRINT RACE 1
1. S Paoletti/Italy - 0.00
2. M Bin Kadri/Malaysia - 2.28s
3. A Ovchinnikov/Belarus - 3.45s
4. D Vandyshev/Belarus - 4.79s
5. A Bin Kadri/Malaysia + 1 lap
6. K Al Kuwari/Qatar + 2 laps
7. M Gambi/Italy + 3 laps
8. D Malkin/Russia - RET
9. M Kitashev/Russia - RET
SPRINT RACE 2
1. S Paoletti/Italy - 0.00
2. M Bin Kadri/Malaysia - 3.47s
3. R Vandyshev/Belarus - 46.56s
4. K Al Kuwari/Qatar - 50.30s
5. A Bin Kadri/Malaysia - 51.22s
6. D Vandyshev/Belarus - RET
7. M Gambi/Italy + 8laps
UIM Nations Cup - Qatar Grand Prix - final positions
1. Team Belarus - 108
2. Team Italy - 107
3. Team Malaysia - 100
4. Team Qatar - 61
5. Team Russia - 36
6. Team Lebanon - 0