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Team Abu Dhabi 35 in strong position to attack with long tactical battle ahead

Team Abu Dhabi kept victory in sight in the 24 Hours of Rouen in Northern France today after being given a flying start by reigning F1 world champion Shaun Torrente.

With thousands of spectators lining the banks of the River Seine, Torrente powered Team Abu Dhabi 35 into an early lead over Team Nollet 2 spearheaded by France’s three-times F1H2O world champion Philippe Chiappe.

Torrente, who landed the individual and team titles with Team Abu Dhabi in last year’s UIM F1H2O World Championship, proved to be the perfect lead off driver, setting the standard with the fastest lap of 1:19.998 compared with Chiappe’s 1:22.540.

While the lead then swapped hands on the first changeover of drivers, with Team Abu Dhabi 35 briefly slipping to fifth spot, Rashed Al Tayer quickly climbed back into second place, and a strong position for attack, as a long tactical battle lay ahead with the bulk of the race left to run.

After 155 laps of the 3.6km river course through the city of Rouen, the big surprise was the performance from Team Abu Dhabi 36 to claim third position overall.

The all-Emirati crew of Majed Al Mansoori, Faleh Al Mansoori, Mohamed Al Mehairbi and Rashed Al Remeithi were basically entered to gain valuable endurance race experience.

But Al Mansoori’s splendid start saw them far exceed expectations as they moved past Team Nollet 1, the all-Russian defending champions featuring brothers Roman and Dmitry Vandyshev.

Guido Cappellini, the Team Abu Dhabi team manager, said: “This is a very tactical race and a lot can happen to affect the lead positions over the next few hours, but at this stage we’re happy with our situation.

“We’re here to win with boat 35, and Shaun has laid the foundations, while 36 have made a very good start and this is great experience for the crew.”

Following Al Tayer into the cockpit of Team Abu Dhabi 35, Rashed Al Qemzi and Italian Tullio Abbate were primed for a major effort as the initial 11-hour race session continued, to be followed after a break by another nine-hour stint leading to the finish at 4pm tomorrow.

Based at Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club and sponsored by Etihad Airways, Team Abu Dhabi is supported by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and runs under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Khalifa Al-Nahyan, advisor to the Head of State and chairman of the board of directors of the ADIMSC.

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