C1 Third and fourth for Qatar Team in thrilling Romanian Pole competition

Romanian Grand Prix, round 5 - August 29th-31st, 2008

For immediate release
Saturday, August 30th, 2008


Sheikh Hassan to start Sunday's race from third; Al-Sulaiti in fourth
Nail-biting Pole Position win falls to Dubai's Victory 1

MAMAIA-CONSTANTA (Romania): The Qatar Class 1 World Powerboat Championship team will start Sunday's Romanian Grand Prix from third and fourth positions after Saturday's thrilling and closely-fought Edox Pole Position competition on Mamaia's Lake Siutghiol, near the Black Sea city of Constanta.

His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and British throttleman Steve Curtis MBE pushed Qatar 96 into Pole early in the session but eventually settled for third place. Doha's Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Matteo Nicolini used the new V8 Sterling engines in Qatar 95 to good effect to post the fourth fastest time, after holding Pole themselves for several minutes.

A mere 0.85 seconds separated the top four crews at the end of the thrilling session with the Pole Position win falling to Victory 1. Mohammed Al-Marri and Nadir Bin Hndi finished just 0.66 seconds in front of the Norwegian Jotun crew.

"I didn't expect to see the lap times in the Pole that we set on Saturday morning, because the weather conditions changed," said Sheikh Hassan. "But I was aiming for the Pole Position win today. I wanted to get that. We have been pleased with the performance of the new engines in Qatar 95 as well. We knew that the V8 was a potent option and we have seen how effective they have been in Jotun. Now our team hopes to build on today's performance by taking a one-two in the race on Sunday. It is very close among the leading boats and it should be a very exciting race."

Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis laid down the gauntlet with a potent first lap of 2m 47.26s in the Edox Pole Position, with Qatar 95 just under a second adrift in 2m 48.23s. The championship-leading Victory 1 was third in 2m 50.59s and Victory 7 was fourth, with Jotun down in fifth place with a lap of 2m 54.10s.

Jotun failed to improve when the Norwegian crew made a second tour of the course, but Victory 1 shaved a second off the opening lap time but remained in third position behind the two Qatar crews. Al-Sulaiti and Nicolini were unable to better their opening lap with a second run of 2m 49.59s, but they snatched provisional pole with a stunning third tour of 2m 47.11s and headed into the closing minutes of the session with Al-Sulaiti contemplating the possibility of his first ever Class 1 Pole Position win.

Abdullah Al-Melhairbi, struggling with a bout of 'flu, slipped into third place with a third lap of 2m 48.28s in Victory 7, but Mohammed Al-Marri and Nadir Bin Hendi leapt from fourth to provisional Pole with a stunning third lap of 2m 46.26s.

With a little under 15 minutes of the thrilling session still to run Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis took to the water again to try and regain the Pole time, as Jotun improved by four seconds but retained fifth place. A mere one second separated the top three race boats.

Qatar 96 posted a lap of 2m 46.95s. It was enough to regain second position but was 0.69s adrift of the leading Victory time as Class 1 racing took on a Formula 1 feel with fractions of seconds separating race boats. Jotun upset the applecart with a final lap of 2m 46.92s to catapult the crew from fifth to second, a mere 0.03s ahead of Sheikh Hassan in Qatar 96. Just 0.85 seconds separated the top four.

Qatar 95 posted a final lap of 2m 47.81s, but that was insufficient to make the podium, as all eyes centred on Sheikh Hassan and his final two chances to take Pole. Lap three failed to unearth a pole-winning time, as Victory 1 failed to improve on their time with a final lap. It was all down to the fourth and final tour, but Qatar 96 posted a 2m 47.95s time and Sheikh Hassan had to be content with third place.

Qatar 96 posted the quickest time in Saturday morning's second practice session. Seven boats took to the water; Qatar 95 was second and Jotun was third, although both the Qatar boats beat the lap times they had set on Friday afternoon.

Qatar 95 and Qatar 96 had posted the third and fourth fastest times in first official practice on Friday afternoon in hot, sunny conditions. Both crews were working on the set-up for race weekend, although Nicolini and Al-Sulaiti had taken to the water on Thursday to shakedown the new V8 Sterling engines in Qatar 95.

"We had some problems on Friday afternoon and were not able to carry out all the tests that we wanted to do," admitted Sheikh Hassan. "But we set a good time in Saturday morning's practice, although the weather conditions changed before the Pole Position. It was getting a bit rougher and the wind was picking up. We have got our spare boat more or less on a par with the race boat we damaged in Doha. We will hold that one back now and get it ready for the 2009 season."

Victory 1 posted the fastest lap of 2m 45.90s in Friday's session, with Jotun in second position with a sixth lap of 2m 47.65s. Qatar 95's best lap was 2m 49.45s, but the session was cut short by a damaged propeller, as Nicolini enthused about the new engine set-up.

Race day (Sunday) on Mamaia's Lake Siutghiol begins with a final one-hour practice session from 11.00hrs and the Romanian Grand Prix roars into life at 15.30hrs. The race will take place over 21 laps and a total distance of 94.77Nm.

Romanian Grand Prix - Edox Pole Position times:
1. Victory 1 - Mohammed Al Marri (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE)     2m 46.26s
2. Jotun 90 - Inge Brigt Aarbakke (Norway)/Jorn Tandberg (Norway)   2m 46.92s
3. Qatar 96 - Hassan Al-Thani (Qatar)/Steve Curtis (England)     2m 46.95s
4. Qatar 95 - Abdullah Al-Sulaiti (Qatar)/Matteo Nicolini (Italy)     2m 47.11s
5. Victory 7 - Abdullah Al Mehairbi (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (France)    2m 48.28s
6. Foresti & Suardi 8 - Kolbjorn Selmer (Norway)/Gianpaolo Montavoci (Italy)   3m 00.28s
7. SeveneleveN 18 - Giorgio Manuzzi (Italy)/Nicola Giorgi (Italy)     3m 01.50s
8. Roscioli Hotels Roma 88 - Sergio Mora Carrasco (Spain)/Domenico Cirilli (Spain)  3m 16.53s

CLASS 1 EDOX POLE POSITION - latest positions (unofficial):
1. Victory 1 - 75pts  
2. Qatar 96 - 59pts  
3. Jotun 90 - 51pts  
4. Qatar 95 - 37pts  
5. Victory 7 - 27pts  
6. Foresti & Suardi 8 - 16pts 
7. SeveneleveN 18 - 14pts  
8. Negotiator 50 - 7pts
9. White 4 - 5pts
9. Qatar 9 - 5pts
9. Roscioli Hotels Roma 88 - 5pts 
12. Windmare 21 - 0pts


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: 30/08/2008

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