C1 Second place for Qatar 95 in Romanian Grand Prix

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

For immediate release
Sunday, August 31st, 2008


Jotun takes stunning Romanian win and snatches European title
Fourth place for Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis in Qatar 96

MAMAIA-CONSTANTA (Romania): Doha's Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini clinched second overall in Sunday's Romanian Grand Prix, which saw a second successive Class 1 victory for the Jotun crew of Inge Brigt Aarbakke and Jorn Tandberg.

The Norwegians hit the front when Victory 1 suffered a broken propeller and the win also earned them sufficient points to snatch the Class 1 European Championship title from the Dubai team over the closing laps by a single point.

His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and British throttleman Steve Curtis MBE were unable to mount a serious challenge for victory on Mamaia's Lake Siutghiol, but collected crucial championship points for finishing fourth overall behind Victory 7. They remain well in the title hunt heading into the final three races of the season in Egypt and the UAE.

"I am quite happy with this second place," said Abdullah Al-Sulaiti. "It was our first time out with the new engines and we have kept our championship hopes alive. We set the fastest lap of the race today, I think, a 2m 44s and we were catching Jotun at one point.

"We reduced the gap from around 11 seconds to about seven, but then we got held up by the back-markers and that was the end of the challenge. Still, we are happy with this result. It was a first and second for V8 boats and I can look ahead to Egypt feeling that we can still win this championship."

Victory 1 held a 3.64-second lead after the first of 21 laps of the Lake Siutghiol course, as the top five maintained their starting order through the short opening lap. The European Champions elect extended their lead to 8.28 seconds through lap two and to 11.37 seconds after lap three, while Jotun inched further ahead of Qatar 96.

Qatar 95 and Victory 7 opted for their first long laps on the fifth tour, but both boats retained their fourth and fifth positions in what was developing into a procession through the early laps. Jotun took a long lap on the sixth circuit, as Victory 1's overall lead was extended to 19.22 seconds. But Qatar 96 slipped to fourth behind Qatar 95, which was running 45 seconds behind Victory 1.

But drama unfolded on lap eight when Victory 1 hit trouble, coasted into the pits to change a propeller and ruined their chance of clinching the European title. Jotun moved into the outright lead for the second successive race. Both Qatar 95 and Qatar 96 benefited and held the remaining podium positions, as Abdullah Al-Sulaiti opted to take a second long lap on lap nine.

Jotun's lead was just under 30 seconds when the Norwegian crew chose lap 10 for a second long tour to set up a fascinating sprint for the line between Jotun, Qatar 95 and Qatar 96 over the final 11 laps. Taking the long lap reduced the overall lead to just 13.05 seconds, as Nicolini and Al-Sulaiti began to apply the pressure. Taking a second long lap cost Qatar 96 third place to Victory 7, however, but the Dubai crew still had to take their second long lap and Sheikh Hassan remained a clear favourite to regain third position.

What had started out as a procession was developing into a thrilling race, as Qatar 95 trimmed Jotun's lead to just 7.70 seconds through lap 11. The Norwegians edged into a 10.21 second lead after 12 laps and 10.27 seconds through the 14th tour, as Victory 1 began the task of trying to catch the tail-enders and score vital championship points.

Qatar 96 began to lose touch with Victory 7 in the battle for third position, as the Jotun crew headed into the final six laps with the prospect of taking a second successive Class 1 victory back to Norway. Qatar 95 was unable to close the gap on the leaders and the difference was 11.18 seconds heading into the final two tours, as Jotun also eyed the possibility of snatching the European title from Victory at the 11th hour. There were no late scares for the leading quartet and the boats held station over the final two laps.

Qatar 95 had been fastest in final practice on Sunday morning, with Al-Sulaiti and Nicolini posting a solitary lap of 2m 46.75s. Jotun ran for five laps and was less than a second adrift and Qatar 96 was third in 2m 51.31s. Only six boats took to the water and neither of the Victory hulls were involved in the session.

2008 Romanian Grand Prix - results (unofficial):
1. Jotun 90 - Inge Brigt Aarbakke (Norway)/Jorn Tandberg (Norway)   58m 00.65s
2. Qatar 95 - Abdullah Al-Sulaiti (Qatar)/Matteo Nicolini (Italy)     @ 23.33s
3. Victory 7 - Abdullah Al Mehairbi (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (France)    @ 1m 01.39s
4. Qatar 96 - Hassan Al-Thani (Qatar)/Steve Curtis (England)     @ 1m 48.75s
5. Foresti & Suardi 8 - Kolbjorn Selmer (Norway)/Gianpaolo Montavoci (Italy)   1 lap behind
6. SeveneleveN 18 - Giorgio Manuzzi (Italy)/Nicola Giorgi (Italy)     2 laps behind
7. Victory 1 - Mohammed Al Marri (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE)     3 laps behind
8. Roscioli Hotels Roma 88 - Sergio Mora Carrasco (Spain)/Domenico Cirilli (Spain)  7 laps behind


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: 31/08/2008

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