Thursday, 21 November, DOHA (Qatar): Team Qatar’s Khalid Al-Kuwari produced a sensational performance to win this afternoon’s UIM Nations Cup Match Race, beating Team Russia’s Andrei Paniushkin in a hotly-contested final.
Team Lebanon’s sole representative Lebos Chaguri won the third and fourth-placed race-off after beating the second Team Russia driver, Roman Vandyshev.
But it is the four-man Team Russia squad who take the early lead in the UIM Nations Cup Qatar Grand Prix after their second and fourth-placed finishes in the Match Race and sit at the top of the standings on 40 points, with Team Qatar in second on 37 and the defending Champions in third on 31.
Al-Kuwari’s route to the final of the Match Race, with two boats lining up against each for the best of three runs on a two-pin alternate course, saw him beat his teammate Mohamad Al-Obaidly in the first round and then Mohamed Al Mehairbi in the quarter-finals. He got passed Lebos Chaguri in a close semi-final after winning the decisive third leg, after his jump start in the second run handed the win to Chaguri to tie the heat.
Andrei Paniushkin eased into the semi-final after Team Norway’s Stian Slattendalen crashed out on the first leg of their quarter-final, capping a disastrous day for Team Norway, Slattendalen’s teammate Christian Carlsen failing to make the Match Race after crashing out in the morning’s time trials.
The all-important morning time trials to decide the starting line-up for the Match Race saw a titanic struggle between the defending Nations Cup Champions Team UAE and newcomers to the series, Team Norway.
Mohamed Al Mehairbi set what proved to the fastest time, 45.05 seconds, early in the one hour session, but his time came under pressure in the latter stages as both his teammate Rashed Al Qemzi and the Norwegian’s Stian Slattendalen and Christian Carlsen edged ever closer to it.
The Norwegians traded places throughout the session, Slattendalen holding the advantage in second spot just 4/100ths off the leader, with 10 minutes to go. Carlsen held third with 45.55 seconds, ahead of Al Qemzi.
With less than five minutes on the clock, Al Qemzi Jumped Carlsen posting his best time, 45.28 seconds. Both the Norwegians went again, Carlsen overcooking it and barrel-rolling on turn four, the yellow flag coming out just as Slattendalen went quickest with a blistering 44.82 second lap, unfortunately for the young Norwegian his time was discounted.
Team Lebanon’s Lebos Chaguri had a strong final quarter moving up from outside the top 10 to set the fifth fastest time, 45.77 seconds, with Andrei Paniuskin outpacing his teammate Roman Vandyshev to finish in the top-six.
Tomorrow the Nations Cup teams’ share the water with their illustrious cousins in the F1H2O Championship, with an early practice session in the morning (08.45hrs) followed by the all-important two sprint races either side of F1H2O qualifying at 13.10hrs and 15.10hrs to decide the overall winner.
MATCH RACE RESULTS:
1. Khalid Al-Kuwari (QAT) Team Qatar - 25pts
2. Andrei Paniushkin (RUS) Team Russia - 22pts
3. Lebos Chaguri (BRA) Team Lebanon - 20pts
4. Roman Vandyshev (Team Russia) - 18pts
5. Mohammed Al-Mehairbi (QAT) Team UAE - 16pts
6. Rashed Al Qemzi (UAE) Team UAE - 15pts
7. Saud Hamad (KSA) Team Saudi Arabia -14pts
8= Naeem Al Kedawi (KSA) Team Saudi Arabia - 12pts
8= Mohammed Al-Obaidly (QAT) Team Qatar - 12pts
10= Stian Slattendalen (NOR) Team Norway - 0pts
10= Christian Carlsen (NOR) Team Norway - 0pts
NATIONS CUP OVERALL POINTS:
1. Team Russia – 40pts
2. Team Qatar – 37pts
3. Team UAE – 31pts
4. Team Saudi Arabia – 26pts
5. Team Lebanon – 20pts
6. Team Norway – 0pts