Racing the MTI catamaran, Abu Dhabi #6, on the team’s home waters, veteran American offshore racers John Tomlinson and Gary Ballough won the 2015 Class 1 World Championship (www.class-1.com). The 2015 season finale for the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) Class 1 World Powerboat schedule was the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and it took place from November 4 through 6.
Coming into the event, throttleman Tomlinson and driver Ballough had a points advantage that they extended by qualifying third. They needed to either beat or finish immediately behind with Luca Fendi and Giovanni Carpitella in T-Bone Station to secure the championship. Tomlinson and Ballough got off to a great start in their boat, which was powered by twin Mercury Racing Class 1 sterndrives and led the fleet in Race One, battling with the Victory team’s No. 3 and No. 7 boats for the balance of the 10-lap circuit. Abu Dhabi #6 finished second overall, which was good enough to claim the championship for the Americans. It was Tomlinson’s second Class 1 championship and Ballough’s first. Tomlinson claimed his first title in 1997. “This is a great day for Abu Dhabi,” Tomlinson said. “I am very honored to be representing them.”
The victory was an historic one on a few fronts. It was the first for the Abu Dhabi team, and it ended the Victory team’s eight-year domination of the class. On the manufacturer’s side, MTI (www.marinetechnologyinc.com) became the first builder other than Victory to win the Class 1 championship in 12 years. MTI President Randy Scism is the also the Abu Dhabi team manager and he said, “It was a great race. Johnny called me and asked I wanted them to catch Victory #3. I said, ‘No stay there and finish the race for us.'”
Putting on his company president hat, Scism continued, “To become the first different manufacturer to win after so many years is great. We work hard on our boats, and to bring them over here and compete against the best team in the world and succeed is impressive.”
Finally, for Mercury Racing (www.mercuryracing.com), the Abu Dhabi team’s victory was the first time in 15 years that a V-8 engine has won the Class 1 championship, ending the dominance of the Lamborghini V-12. It’s also the first time in 20 years that a sterndrive has won the title instead of a shaft drive.
In the Class 1 V-bottom race, the 42′-foot Fountain, Team RG87, which is powered by twin Mercury Racing 700 SCi sterndrives, took top honors. The boat was crewed by Antonio Schiano and Giuseppe Schiano.