Spectacular flip wrecks Qatar 96 hopes in Lisbon GP
SUPERFUND UIM CLASS 1 WORLD POWER BOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
Lisbon Grand Prix, May 23rd - Round 1 of 9
For immediate release
Sunday, May 23rd, 2004
QATAR 96 BEGINS 2004 UIM CLASS 1 CHALLENGE
WITH NON-FINISH IN LISBON GRAND PRIX
Victory for reigning champions Spirit of Norway; Second place for Victory 77
Qatar's Sheikh Hassan third in Pole Position competition
LISBON (Portugal): Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini were lying in second position overall in the Lisbon Grand Prix, the opening round of the 2004 Superfund UIM Class One World Power Boat Championship, when they were forced to retire on the 13th lap after their Qatar 96 boat capsized. The incident marked Sheikh Hassan's first retirement from a UIM Class One race since he joined the championship in Plymouth, England, mid-way through the 2003 season.
Ten boats entered the 20-lap, 103 Nm race over a modified course on the River Tagus in the Portuguese capital. The Michael-Peters-designed boat was running behind the leader Spirit of Norway for the first 12 of the 20 timed laps before Hassan and Matteo were forced to retire.
~We were running superbly,~ said Hassan. ~We had set the fastest lap, beating Spirit, and were challenging hard for the lead. Then the boat launched itself into the air and we did a 360 flip up in the air. I feel annoyed for the team, because it will be a race against time to get the boat ready for the next race in Spain. There is quite a lot of damage to the right side.
~We showed that we have the pace this year to challenge for the win. It was my first retirement in Class One racing. Second place would have been a good result, but when you have a chance to win, first place is far more important.
~We changed the propeller settings before the race and the boat was working well. We were pushing hard, despite the warnings of a 15-19 knot wind. It was disappointing to retire, but there are many plus points to take away from the weekend.~
The race was won by Spirit of Norway, the reigning World, Pole and Middle East Champions, with the Victory 77 entry of Jean-Marc Sanchez and Mohammed Al-Marri in second position. Britain's Chris Parsonage made an excellent start to his UIM career with the final podium place, alongside Kiwi Peter McGrath. The Victory 7 and Hydrolift boats completed the top five.
This was the first race for Hassan, the President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation, since his team signed a contract with Dubai Victory Team for the servicing and maintenance of the race boat and the supply of Lamborghini V12 race engines for the 2004 season.
Saturday's Pole Position competition was won by the defending World Champions Bjorn Gjelsten and Steve Curtis in Spirit of Norway in a nail-biting last lap finish in tricky weather conditions. The Qatar 96 Team held provisional Pole momentarily, but eventually had to settle for third behind the Anglo-Norwegian pairing. Dubai's Ali Al-Qama and Ahmed Al-Tayer joined forces for the first time in over 12 months and took the runners-up spot in Victory 7.
~The conditions were very ugly out there on Saturday,~ said Sheikh Hassan. ~The current and the strong wind made it very difficult. I think we were a little ragged and right on the edge with our second run, but thought we might have done enough with our final run to take the Pole.~
This year's modified 5 Nm course took the world's powerboating elite around a pair of sweeping 180-degree turns and a testing chicane and along the Tagus from the Belem Tower, past the Alcantara Docks, under the April 25th Bridge and up to the Gare Maritima. The race was held for the first time last year and was won by Spirit of Norway.
The next round of the 2004 Superfund UIM Class One World Power Boat Championship takes place off the coast of Alicante in Spain on June 6th.
Positions at end of Lisbon Grand Prix (unofficial):
1st 10 SPIRIT OF NORWAY - Bjorn Gjelsten (D) Norway/Steve Curtis (T) GB
2nd 77 VICTORY - Jean-Marc Sanchez (T) /Mohammed Al-Marri (D) UAE
3rd 50 NEGOTIATOR - Chris Parsonage (D) GB/Peter McGrath (T) NZ
4th 7 VICTORY - Ali Al-Qama (T) UAE/Ahmed Al-Tayer (D) UAE
5th 99 HYDROLIFT - Bjorge Jacobsen (T) Norway/Bard Eker (D) Norway
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