American offshore racing veterans Gary Ballough (driver) and Johnny Tomlinson (throttles) piloted Abu Dhabi #6, a MTI catamaran powered by twin Mercury Racing Class 1 Race sterndrives, to win the 2015 Class 1 World Championship! The season finale event took place on the teams’ home waters as part of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the final event for the 2015 UIM Class 1 World Powerboat season.
Johnny and Gary placed third in qualify on Thursday, giving Team Abu Dhabi an eight point advantage going into the final event. They needed to either beat or finish immediately behind T-Bone Station (Luca Fendi and Giovanni Carpitella) to cinch the title.
The veteran duo got an amazing start and lead the field for the first two laps and battled Victory Team #3 and $7 boats for the remainder of the 10 lap race for a close second place finish.
Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir bin Hendi (Victory #3) ended the season with their first win of the year to secure the championship runner’s-up slot, with teammates Darren Nicholson and Matteo Nicolini (Victory #7) finishing the race in third. T-Bone Station to take fourth ahead of Rashed Al Tayer and Majed Al Mansoori in Abu Dhabi #5 and clinch third overall in the championship standings.
The event was historic on many fronts. it was the first Class 1 Championship for the Abu Dhabi team,. What makes this even extra special is it took place on their home waters.
“This is a great day for Abu Dhabi. I am very honored to be representing them,” said Johnny after winning the world title for the second time, his first 18 years ago in 1997.
Team Abu Dhabi’s victory ends an eight year championship winning streak for Victory Team, with MTI becoming the first different boat manufacturer other than Victory to win the title in 12 years.
“It was a great race, ” said Abu Dhabi team manager Randy Scism. “Johnny called me and asked if I wanted them to catch Victory #3. I said no – stay there and finish the race for us. So the guys settled in for second. To become the first different manufacturer to win after so many years is great. We work hard on our boats and to bring the boats over here and compete against the best team in the world and succeed is impressive for us,” Randy said.
Driven to Win!
Team Abu Dhabi’s victory marked the first time in 15 years a V8 engine has won the championship; ending the era of Lamborghini V-12 dominance. This is also the first time in over 20 years sterndrive propulsion was behind the title – in a series dominated by shaft drives.
“The Mercury Class 1 sterndrives are like a Timex watch – they take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’,” Randy said in my phone conversation with him this morning. We are absolutely ecstatic. Things could not have turned out better for us. I am very happy for the Abu Dhabi team and congratulate everybody for their efforts and accomplishments,” said Randy.
We too are very proud of team Abu Dhabi and everyone involved in this historic championship. We look forward to their future successes in 2016 and beyond. For now – we’ll be cheering for Randy, Gary, and Johnny in their racing efforts next week in Key West. 🙂