UAE gear up for P1 SuperStock challenge

New powerboat series leads to a world championship in 2015

Emiratis will get an opportunity to rule the seas in powerboat racing when the P1 SuperStock Series makes it debut in the Middle East later this year.

The series was launched in the UK and US last year and the UAE championship which will host six rounds for the first time will serve as a gateway to promote this new venture in Asia.

India and china are billed to join the bandwagon next year with the ultimate objective aim of having a World Championships in 2015.

The P1 SuperStock Series UAE will be held in the six of the emirates beginning with Fujairah in November and the finale in Abu Dhabi in February.

The organisers had a trial day at the Emirates Palace Marina on Friday for budding drivers and navigators in the UAE who got a sneak peek about the UAE series and the P1 Panther Powerboat.

"You guys have a great edge. In UAE there is an understanding and excitement for powerboat racing. I think we are going to find lot of experienced guys coming from bigger classes that want to race in this too. That's what I get in the US," said Martin Sanborn, the P1 SuperStock USA managing director.

The P1 SuperStock Series is not a challenger series and is more of a feeder series to the UIM Class 1 World Championship. The P1 SuperStock is designed to integrate and link other powerboating classes, the organisers said on Thursday.

"An old axiom of powerboating racing is very high entry cost, very low participation. In 2009 we bought Honda 4-stroke series which had 28-foot cougars and 225hp engines. However, we ultimately made a decision in late 2009 that we really want to do our own boat. In 2010 August we started drawings and had a 3D model by end of September," he said explaining the evolution of the new powerboat which they presented at two international autosport shows in the US and UK and started the series last year.

"It's like a going on a roller-coaster ride. Whether you come first or last, you have a great time because they are all the same speed. It's all about competing on a level playing field," said Sanborn, a seven-time world champion.

He expects to see a rapid growth in powerboat racing like the one he saw during the late 90s.

"I 1999 when I first won the world championship, there were 32 F2 boats and 22 F1 boats at the same race in the same race course at the same time. That was the hey day," he said.

The present phase has seen another spiral.

"The growth we had has eclipsed what was in the first year. I got 27 of those boats built and had only been building them for not even 18 months. I really started production in late January 2011. All the boats for UAE are just now going to start production. We will have 10 new boats ready probably by first week of October," said Sanborn.

The top two from each country will qualify for the inaugural World Championship.

The UAE series begins in Fujairah in November with two races to follow in December in Sharjah and Ajman. Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah will host races in January and Abu Dhabi will be the season-ender.

There will be four races held over two days - Friday and Saturday. Another entry- level series - the P1 AquaX will run alongside the P1 SuperStock Championship.

"We want to establish national racing series throughout the world and by 2015 we want to have 12 national racing series so we could bring the champions for a genuine world championship," said James Durbin, the commercial director of P1 SuperStock Racing.

UAE is historically such a stronghold for powerboat racing. It has history and also fantastic venues for powerboat racing. That itself lends itself to a perfect nation to be racing in. We also have a local investor who has seen our vision and wants to be a part of that and investing in this series to launch in the UAE," he said.

Asked what was the difference in this series, he said: "This is an entry level racing series. We are marketing this as accessible and affordable. In terms of ability to race, you can be a novice. Just get your powerboat licence, your race training under your belt and come racing with us. In cost in terms of racing and buying a craft it is affordable. To buy a boat outright including engine backseat package it is $115,000 (Dh422,000)," Durbin said explaining that the minimum age limit for a pilot is 17 and 18 for a pilot in the UAE.

The P1 Panther powerboats for the UAE are currently in production in Florida, USA. They were designed in Italy. The P1 Panther is powered with the Evinrude 250HO ETEC motor. It can reach a top speed of 112kmph.


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