C1 Sheikh Hassan takes provisional pole for Norwegian Grand Prix

BMW Norwegian Grand Prix, round 4 - July 18th-20th, 2008

For immediate release
Saturday, July 19th, 2008 (16.50hrs)


Poor weather conditions hamper Norwegian Pole Position
Qatar 95 and Qatar 9 set fourth and seventh times
Qatar 96 sets fastest time in second practice session

ARENDAL (Norway): Poor visibility and treacherous weather conditions marred the Edox Pole Position competition at the BMW Norwegian Grand Prix in Arendal on Saturday afternoon. His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and British throttleman Steve Curtis MBE set a Pole Position-winning time of 3m 19.92s for Sunday's race for the second successive occasion, but race officials were forced to dispute whether all the times would stand or whether the Pole Position competition would be cancelled because of the weather delays. A decision was expected late on Saturday afternoon.

Qatar 95 team mates Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Matteo Nicolini provisionally qualified in fourth and
Qatar's Mohammed Al-Nasser and Italian throttleman Luca Nicolini again tested Nicolini Offshore's highly-promising new Qatar 9 cat and set the seventh fastest time of the interrupted session.

Sunday's 17-lap, 96.70Nm race at Arendal - the 'Venice of Scandinavia' - will take place on the tricky course on the Tromoysund and Galtesund fjords, but Saturday afternoon's Edox Pole Position was red-flagged on two occasions because of adverse weather conditions.
"We set a good time when the session restarted and took the provisional Pole Position with a similar lap time to the one we set in practice this morning," said an upbeat Sheikh Hassan. "Pole Position was stopped and there were discussions as to whether the result would stand or whether the session would be scrapped. Either way we were comfortably quicker, by nearly four seconds, than our nearest rivals."

Jotun laid down the gauntlet with an opening lap of 3m 26.07s in the opening minutes of the delayed Pole Position session, with Qatar 95, Victory 1 and Victory 7 slotting into second, third and fourth places. Neither SevenEleven nor Maritimo managed to unsettle the leading quartet with their first Pole attempts, but the session was stopped for a lengthy period of time because of rain and poor visibility on the course as Qatar 9 slotted into sixth position with an opening lap of 3m 41.62s.

Action eventually resumed on the fjord and Sheikh Hassan realised the importance of posting a quick time in clear water to give him a better starting position for Sunday's race. The President of the QMSF was delighted with a lap of 3m 19.92s, as the other boats that had taken to the water before the delay were given the option of using their original lap times or scrapping them and having the chance to run four more tours.

Victory 1 posted a lap of 3m 23.78s and both Maritimo and Qatar 9 recorded times before the session was red-flagged for a second time. Both Jotun and Qatar 95 elected to carry their original times forward from the early stoppage, as eight boats recorded a qualifying time, with Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis on provisional pole for the second successive race.

The Norwegian crew of Inge Brigt Aarbakke and Jorn Tandberg delighted the home fans by setting the fastest time in Friday afternoon's first practice session. The Jotun crew posted a hot lap of 3m 20.51s on their fifth tour, in a session where Qatar 96 and Qatar 95 were third and fourth with best runs of 3m 24.12s and 3m 26.14s, respectively.

"We lost the gearing on our first lap and had to stop," admitted Al-Sulaiti in Qatar 95. "And then we spun-out on our next lap on the top turn, but did well to save the boat from going over." Qatar 9 ran for three laps and posted a quickest run of 3m 43.15s.

Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis were quickest in Saturday morning's timed practice with a second hot lap of 3m 18.53s on the short course, but all three Qatar crews were happy with their performances. "I was happy with our time," admitted Al-Sulaiti, who set the fourth fastest lap in Qatar 95 with a tour of 3m 22.86s.

"It was a little choppy outside in the open water, there is a strong current and you need to be careful on the bends, but we are ready. The podium is so important for us here. If we don't take a top result on Sunday then I fear it will be too late to do anything in the European Championship in Romania. (Qatar) 96 is running very well and Qatar 9 had a good test. The new boat looks very nice and they (Mohammed and Luca) are doing a good job in setting some good times without taking any risks." Qatar 9 set the sixth fastest time, just behind fifth-placed Victory 7.

Sunday's timetable begins with a final practice session from 10.00hrs and the BMW Norwegian Grand Prix fires into life from 14.30hrs. The race will run for a distance of 96.70Nm, comprising a short start lap of 5.36Nm, 14 laps of 5.65Nm and two compulsory long laps of 6.12Nm apiece.

BMW Norwegian Grand Prix - Edox Pole Position times* (unofficial@17.00hrs):
1. Qatar 96 - Hassan Al-Thani (Qatar)/Steve Curtis (England)     3m 19.92s
2. Victory 1 - Mohammed Al Marri (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE)     3m 23.78s
3. Jotun 90 - Inge Brigt Aarbakke (Norway)/Jorn Tandberg (Norway)   3m 26.07s
4. Qatar 95 - Abdullah Al-Sulaiti (Qatar)/Matteo Nicolini (Italy)     3m 28.96s
5. Victory 7 - Abdullah Al Mehairbi (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (France)    3m 33.20s
6. Maritimo Offshore 20 - Tom Barry-Cotter (Australia)/Pal-Virik Nilsen (Norway)   3m 35.95s
7. Qatar 9 - Mohammed Al-Nasser (Qatar)/Luca Nicolini (Italy)    3m 39.28s
8. SeveneleveN 18 - Giorgio Manuzzi (Italy)/Nicola Giorgi (Italy)     3m 43.76s
Foresti & Suardi 8 - Kolbjorn Selmer (Norway)/Gianpaolo Montavoci (Italy)    DNS
Roscioli Hotels Roma 88 - Sergio Mora Carrasco (Spain)/Domenico Cirilli (Spain)  DNS

* these times are pending a Class 1 officials' decision on whether the Edox Pole Position competition will be cancelled.


For further information:
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com. www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases).



Date issued: 19/07/2008

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