*Team Qatar’s Al Kuwari third quickest
*Team Russia set out to defend Qatar title
Monday, 10 March, DOHA (Qatar): The UIM Nations Cup World Series kicked off its fourth season with a second outing in Qatar’s capital city Doha for the first of three scheduled events in 2014, with newcomers Belarus lining up against teams from Italy, Lebanon, Malaysia, Qatar and Russia.
In today’s two-hour free practice session Team Italy posted immediate notice of their intent to be Grand Prix and overall title challengers after an impressive display by both drivers, locking-out the top spots with Stefano Paoletti posting the fastest time of the afternoon, 47.91s, just 6/10ths quicker than teammate Marco Gambi.
Making only their second start in the series, but based on today’s showing and their one and only appearance last year in Abu Dhabi where they finished second, Paoletti and Gambi look to be starting out amongst the favourites for success this season.
Khalid Al Kuwari is again the Qatar Team’s number one driver and was third quickest of the eleven boats out on Doha Bay with a best time of 48.56s, with teammate Abdullah Gholam making his series and circuit racing debut, in tenth spot.
Thirty six year-old Al Kuwari was impressive in his home Grand Prix last year winning the Match Race and finishing second and third in both sprint races and will be hoping the team makes a flying start as it sets out to win the Nations Cup for the first time after finishing as runners-up in 2011 and 2012.
Malaysian brothers Alffian Yanto and Mohammad Affendey Kadri made a welcome return to the series for the Team’s third outing in Nations Cup, with the younger of the two, Mohammad, posting the fourth fastest time. The brothers from Kuching, Sarawak shared mixed fortunes on their debut in Khor Fakkan in 2012, Alffian crashing out in race 1 Mohammad going on to take third overall in the sprint races.
Team Russia was a tour de force on their series debut last season fielding six drivers to share race duties, and after winning the Qatar Grand Prix in November to lead the points table will be out for revenge after seeing the overall title slip away.
Of the drivers who grabbed the runners-up slot, Mikhail Kitashev, Andrey Panyushkin, Dmitry Malkin and Kostantin Ustinov run for Team Russia, with the Vandyshev brothers Dmitry and Roman joined by series debutant Andrey Ovchinnikov racing for Team Belarus, with Dmitry Vandyshev out pacing Kitashev by 5/10ths and going fifth fastest.
Lebos Chaguri lines up for his fourth outing in Nations Cup again racing under the flag and colours of Team Lebanon, and is the one of the most experienced campaigners in the series and looking to deliver his best set of results, whilst Team UAE is not in Doha to start the defence of their title.
Tomorrow Teams face a busy schedule of competition out on the four-pin 1580 metre anticlockwise circuit with a one hour official qualifying session starting at 10.00hrs (local) followed by the Match Race at 14.00hrs.
1. 7 Stefano Paoletti/Team Italy – 47.91s
2. 8 Marco Gambi/Team Italy – 48.50s
3. 6 Khalid Al Kuwari/Team Qatar – 48.56s
4. 12 Mohammad bin Kadri/Team Malaysia – 48.68s
5. 9 Dmitry Vandyshev/Team Belarus – 49.70s
6. 3 Mikhail Kitashev/Team Russia – 49.91
For the complete set of results visit cuph2o.com