C1 Fourth and fifth places for Qatar Team in Arendal
2008 CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
BMW Norwegian Grand Prix, round 4 - July 20th, 2008
For immediate release
Sunday, July 20th, 2008
FOURTH AND FIFTH PLACES FOR QATAR 96
AND QATAR 95 IN NORWEGIAN GRAND PRIX
Norwegian Jotun crew win home race in Arendal
ARENDAL (Norway): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and British throttleman Steve Curtis MBE and Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Matteo Nicolini of the Qatar Team finished fourth and fifth overall in the BMW Norwegian Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Arendal race was won by the Norwegian crew of Inge Brigt Aarbakke and Jorn Tandberg in the Ugland Offshore Racing Jotun boat, after the home team had passed Victory 7 on the 12th of 17 laps of a thrilling race. The win was Tandberg's second race victory in Arendal - he won in 2006 - and a first in Class 1 for new recruit Aarbakke.
"It wasn't meant to be today," admitted Qatar 95's Al-Sulaiti. "Neither Hassan nor I had good starts. We were a little short on top speed into the first turn. I was side by side with Victory 7 and then Victory 1 popped inside me and then I found myself behind Jotun and 96 as well.
"Jotun did an outstanding job today. They were very strong and drove an excellent tactical race. The outcome means that the championship is still wide open though and we must look ahead to the rest of the season and remain positive. There is still a long way to go."
Following the organisers' decision to scrap the Pole Position times on Saturday evening because of the adverse weather conditions, the final practice session took on an altogether new significance, as times recorded in final practice would be used to denote starting order for the race. The plan was for boats to line up in two rows of five, as had been the case in Moscow, because of the narrow nature of the Arendal course.
After being deprived of Pole Position on Saturday afternoon it was fitting that Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis should set the fastest lap of 3m 22.25s in final practice in Qatar 96 and gain the advantage of the best position on the front row of the grid for the 10-boat race. Jotun set the second fastest lap of 3m 23.04s, with Victory 1, Victory 7, and Qatar 95 filling the remaining places on the front row. Qatar 9 qualified in sixth position as a mere 1.42 seconds separated the top four boats to set up the prospect of a thrilling 17-lap race.
A good start was important on the tight, technical Arendal course, but Victory 7 and Victory 1 emerged ahead at the end of a fraught first lap, where Jotun, Qatar 96 and Qatar 95 held third, fourth and fifth places. The Victory pair maintained the lead through laps two and three, with Qatar 96 and Qatar 95 shadowing Jotun and Qatar 9 holding eighth place, sandwiched between SevenEleven and Foresti & Suardi, although Mohammed Al-Nasser was forced to run a penalty lap.
Victory 7's lead rose from 7.83 seconds to 8.33 seconds through lap four as the leading five boats held station and Foresti & Suardi took the first of the two compulsory long laps. Sheikh Hassan opted to take the first of his long laps on his fifth tour as Victory 7's lead was trimmed to 7.28 seconds by Victory 1. Both Jotun and Qatar 95 opted for the first long lap on their sixth tours, but the top six was unchanged as the race reached the one-third point.
Both the UAE boats chose lap seven for the first of their long laps and Jotun managed to just squeeze in front of Mohammed Al-Marri and Nadir Bin Hendi at the end of the circuit, with Abdullah Al-Mehairbi and Jean-Marc Sanchez holding a 8.76-second advantage over the Norwegian team and Sheikh Hassan opting to take the second of the long laps, but retaining fourth place.
Jotun reduced Victory 7's lead to just 4.14 seconds after eight laps and Qatar 96 edged to within four seconds of Victory 1 in the quest for third place, while Qatar 9 climbed a place to seventh. Jotun chose lap nine for the second long lap and managed to retain second place as Victory 7's lead climbed to 15.94 seconds and SevenEleven began to struggle.
Lap 10 was chosen by Victory 7 for the final long lap of the leading group and the UAE team's lead was dramatically reduced to just 2.47s by Jotun, with Victory 1, Qatar 96 and Qatar 95 completing the top five with seven laps to run. Victory 7's lead was 3.23 seconds after lap 11, but Qatar 9 had hit trouble on the 10th lap.
Jotun passed Victory 7 on lap 12 and snatched a dramatic two-second lead as 13 seconds separated the top four boats to set up a thrilling climax to the race. The Norwegian crew's lead was stretched to 9.88 seconds through lap 13 and 11.61 seconds after lap 14, but Qatar 96 was unable to make in-roads into Victory 1's third place.
Aarbakke and Tandberg hung on over the closing laps to take a superb victory and send the home crowd into raptures, as Victory 7 and Victory 1 claimed the final podium places and both Qatar 96 and Qatar 95 were edged into fourth and fifth overall. The result also meant that Victory 1 was unable to claim the Class 1 Championship before the Romanian race.
BMW Norwegian Grand Prix - results:
1. Jotun 90 - Inge Brigt Aarbakke (Norway)/Jorn Tandberg (Norway) 57m 47.20s
2. Victory 7 - Abdullah Al Mehairbi (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (France) @ 13.30s
3. Victory 1 - Mohammed Al Marri (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE) @ 22.89s
4. Qatar 96 - Hassan Al-Thani (Qatar)/Steve Curtis (England) @ 26.19s
5. Qatar 95 - Abdullah Al-Sulaiti (Qatar)/Matteo Nicolini (Italy) @ 1m 40.78s
6. Maritimo Offshore 20 - Tom Barry-Cotter (Australia)/Pal-Virik Nilsen (Norway) @ 2m 46.30s
7. Foresti & Suardi 8 - Kolbjorn Selmer (Norway)/Gianpaolo Montavoci (Italy) 1 lap behind
8. Roscioli Hotels Roma 88 - Sergio Mora Carrasco (Spain)/Domenico Cirilli (Spain) 2 laps behind
Qatar 9 - Mohammed Al-Nasser (Qatar)/Luca Nicolini (Italy) DNF - 8 laps behind
SeveneleveN 18 - Giorgio Manuzzi (Italy)/Nicola Giorgi (Italy) DNF - 10 laps behind
For further information:
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases).