*Mixed fortunes for Team South Africa
*Solid debut for Team Malaysia’s Kadri brothers
Wednesday, 28 March, KHOR FAKKAN (Sharjah, UAE): The anticipated battle for supremacy between two of circuit racing’s super powers, Qatar and the UAE, continued today when teams took to the water for two one hour practice sessions in the opening round of the 2012 UIM Nations Cup in Khor Fakkan.
Team UAE and Team Qatar were the pace setters posting fastest times in both sessions with Al Tayer and Al Shamlan the only drivers to break the 50 second barrier around the 1639 metre, four-pin circuit.
Nations Cup debutant Rashed Al Tayer, in just his second outing in a Nations Cup boat, was immediately on the pace, giving Team UAE the upper hand in the morning, setting the fastest time of the day, 49.41secs, with teammate Majed Al Mansoori third quickest.
Khalid Al Shamlan hit back in the afternoon session, going quickest in 49.50secs - their rivals opting to sit out the session. “It has been a very good opening day for both drivers and the team,” said the Qatar team manager, Khalid Arhama Al Kuwari. “Khalid [Al Shamlan] was very consistent and strong all day despite a problem with his trim and once Khalid [Al Kuwari] settled down and learnt the course he picked up his pace and improved by over a second to go fifth quickest this afternoon.”
It was a day of mixed fortunes for Team South Africa’s Johanessburg duo Timothy Fetherstonhaugh and Mark Shepherd. Technical problems and lack of acceleration in the morning prevented Shepherd from posting a time and then a lack of pace restricted him to just 10th fastest, his frustration compounded as he watched his teammate improve his time on the day by over a second and go second quickest in the afternoon. “I was very happy with today especially after finding out that the engine has very few hours on it so there’s more to come,” said Fetherstonhaugh. “The course is great and similar to those we run back home – a couple of tight turns and one floaty one. We have to find 1.5secs and I think we can do that.”
Team Malaysia will be satisfied by the performances of their debutants, brothers Alffian and Mohammed Kadri, each setting a team best time with the eldest of the two, Alffian, producing an impressive third quickest run in the afternoon session with 50.91secs.
Risto Painio put in a solid day’s work for Team Finland completing over 50 laps during his two hours on the water to clock the fifth and fourth best times of the day, with daughter Meeri’s ninth in the morning her best.
After a slow start, both Team Brunei drivers Ismail Kabon and Nordin Mohammed improved over the course of the day to go sixth and eighth quickest, with sole Brazilian representative Lebos Chaguri rounding out the day in tenth.
Teams will be back out on the water in the morning for free practice which is immediately followed by the all-important qualifying session for the Match Race in the afternoon and Race 1 on Friday.
Thursday, 29 March:
11.00-12.00 official qualifying
13.45-15.45 UIM Nations Cup Khor Fakkan Match Race
Friday, 30 March
13.30-14.30 free practice
16.30 parade lap
16.40-17.00 UIM Nations Cup Khor Fakkan – race 1
17.15-17.35 UIM Nations Cup Khor Fakkan – race 2