10 March, DOHA (Qatar): It was Team Russia’s day out on Doha Bay this afternoon with Kostantin Ustinov pulling off a surprise win in an all-Russian Match Race final beating teammate Andrei Panyushkin, who earlier in the day posted the quickest time in qualifying and will start the first of tomorrow’s two 20-minute sprint races from pole position.
Following a two hour delay due to poor conditions 13 drivers went out for qualifying but gusting winds and choppy seas were again a factor and forced further disruption to the schedule. “We could see the conditions worsening and the times slowing,” said UIM Race Director Luiz Ribeiro. “One or two teams incurred some minor damage to their boats so we took the decision to reduce the time.”
But the 30 minutes was enough for Panyushkin to maintain his place at the top of the time sheets after dominating in practice on Sunday, his time of 50.94s almost 6-tenthsquicker than Team Belarus’ Roman Vandyshev whose teammate squeezed into sixth place.
Germany’s Mike Szymura maintained his form posting the third quickest time ahead of Italy’s Roberto Lo Piano and Qatar’s Mohammed Al Obaidly.
Following qualifying the teams and drivers faced each other in the Match Race, with two boats racing off against each other on an alternate two-pin course over the best of three runs, their start positions decided by their times and positions in qualifying.
Kostantin Ustinov’s route to the final saw him get past the UAE’s Rashed Al Remeithi two-nil, win a tight quarter final against Belarus’ Roman Vandyshev in the deciding third leg and easily out gun Saudi Arabia’s Saud Abdulaziz Ahmed in the semi-final.
Teammate Andrei Panyushkin eased through beating Qatar’s sole representative today, Mohammed Al Obaidly, and then Mike Szymura in the semi-final, the German missing a turn-mark and disqualified from the first run and just losing out in the second, but he bounced right back to win the third and fourth place race-off beating Ahmed.
On paper and the quickest on the water over the last two days, it was Panyushkin who was the hot favourite to take the Match Race final but two jump starts and disqualification gifted the win to Ustinov, the two teammates sharing the day’s honours and putting Team Russia on top of the standings with 47 points.
Mike Szymura’s third place and Bernd Enzenhofer’s tenth place moved Germany into second overall on 31 points, two points ahead of Team Belarus’ Roman Vandyshev and Dmitry Malkin who finished in sixth and seventh spots.
NATIONS CUP – overall standings after the Match Race
1. Russia - 47pts / 2. Germany - 31pts / 3. Belarus - 29pts / 4. Saudi Arabia - 27pts / 5. UAE - 23pts / 6. Italy - 20pts / 7. Qatar - 16