C1 Victory 77 tops timings in first official practice for Qatar GP

QATAR GRAND PRIX, November 5th/7th, 2005 - round 4 of 7

For immediate release
Saturday, November 5th, 2005


Victory 77 tops timings during first official practice;
Qatar 95 crew boosted with third fastest time in Doha

DOHA (Qatar): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini only completed one timed lap in the first official practice session for the Qatar Grand Prix in Doha Bay, today (Saturday).

The crew decided that there was a potentially serious problem with an engine in Qatar 96 and returned to the pits to allow their Italian mechanics to take a closer look at the two Lamborghini engines they hope will propel Qatar 96 to victory in Monday afternoon's race.

They had hoped to benefit from calm water conditions and take their Michael Peters-designed hull to a fast time, but the early pace setters were Victory 77 and Spirit of Norway after the first official two-hour practice stint. In a bid to start their UIM Class 1 Middle East Championship campaign in winning style, Al-Thani and Nicolini - the recently-crowned UIM European Champions - will now need to call upon all their experience in tomorrow's Pole Position competition.

~We knew almost straight away that something was wrong out there, so we came in to the pits,~ said Sheikh Hassan. ~The worst fear is a serious engine problem, because there are three bonus championship points at stake for running with the same engine and we hope that an engine change is not necessary. It takes around two hours to change an engine, but our mechanics will look at all the options before we resort to that.~

Spirit of Norway had been one of the first boats on to the water behind Qatar 95, Victory 7 and Victory 77 and Steve Curtis and Bard Eker posted their intentions from the outset with an imposing time of 2m 52.428s. Only Victory 7 could get anywhere the Anglo-Norwegian pairing during the first runs, but Victory 77 soon surpassed Spirit's time with a very competitive 2m 47.591s and beat it again in the closing minutes of the session with a faster 2m 46.390s.

Qatar's Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and team mate Lino di Biase set a time of 3m 41.349s in their new Mercury-engined Qatar 95 race boat, but overheating problems again came to the fore during their first practice session and they were forced to return to the pits while mechanics took a closer look at the problem. A second run earned them a fastest time of 2m 51.987s and lifted them to an excellent third quickest on the day.

~As soon as we began to open the throttles the temperature began to rise, particularly in the left-hand engine,~ said Al-Sulaiti. ~There is nothing you can do in this situation other than to ease off the power. It is impossible to set top times in these conditions. It is something we need to get to the bottom of as soon as possible.~

Team Principal Sheikh Hassan is upbeat about the new Mercury engines in Qatar 95. ~We are basically developing leisure engines for race use, so there are going to be teething problems.~

Victory 7 took the fourth fastest time in today's official free practice and the British Negotiator boat benefited from a propeller change at the mid-session point to move up to fifth with a top time of 2m 57.335s

The Roscioli Hotels Cougar boat, crewed by Italian driver Tomaso Polli and throttleman Nicola Giorgi, had undergone extensive repairs during the summer break to damage sustained from a crash in Trondheim in August. They were unable to take to the water today and have yet to score a point in this year's World Championship after failing to finish the race in Plymouth.

Meanwhile, GFN Gibellato's Giampaolo Montavoci and Spaniard Domenico Cirilli and Italians Giuseppe Chillocci and Kristian Tzanov - making their Class debuts together in Ceramiche Flaminia - entered a two-boat team in Doha. Both are running Lamborghini-Scam V12 engines, with Chillocci and Tzanov at the helm of the ex-Victory and Damas hull used by the Qatar Team for three races in 2003. Tzanov was born in Bulgaria and now lives in Dubai. He last competed in Class One racing two years ago.

Tomorrow (Sunday) is the official Pole Position competition, where each of the 10 teams realise the importance of earning a top position in the starting line-up for a strategic move at the start of Monday afternoon's Grand Prix race.

Starting at 15.00 hrs on Sunday afternoon, the Pole competition will also mark the first time that Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Lino di Biase will use their new Mercury HP1075 SCi engine package in a race environment in Qatar 95.

1. Victory 77 - Al Marri/Sanchez 2m 46.390s
2. Spirit of Norway - Eker/Curtis 2m 49.153s
3. Qatar 95 Al Sulaiti/Di Biase 2m 51.987s
4. Victory 7 - Hindi/Al Marri 2m 55.492s
5. Negotiator - Parsonage/Scism 2m 57.335s
9. Qatar 96 - Al Thani/Nicolini 3m 24.624s

Sunday, 6 November 2005
09.00 - 11.00 Official Practice
15.00 -16.15 Pole Position Competition
18.00 - 20.30 Pit area open to the public
19.45 Official Team Dinner

Championship Positions after race 3 of 7:
1. Qatar 96 - Al Thani/Nicolini 47pts
2. Spirit of Norway - Eker/Curtis 43pts
3. Victory 77 - Al Marri/Sanchez 34pts
4. Negotiator - Parsonage/Scism 3pts
5. Victory 7 - Hindi/Al Marri 18pts
6. Jotun - Tandberg/Zaborowski 17pts
6. Maritimo - Barry-Cotter/McGrath 17pts
8. GFN Gibellato - Montavoci/Cirilli 13pts
9. Qatar 95 - Al Sulaiti/Di Biase 7pts
10. Roscioli Hotels - Giorgi/Polli 0pts

Pole Position Championship after race 3 of 7:
1. Spirit of Norway - Eker/Curtis 60pts
2. Qatar 96 Al Thani/Nicolini 39pts
3. Jotun - Tandberg/Zaborowski 31pts
4. Negotiator - Parsonage/Scism 23pts
5. Victory 7 - Bin Hindi/R Al Marri 19pts
5. Victory 77 - Al Marri/Sanchez 19pts
7. Maritimo Barry-Cotter/McGrath 14pts
8. Qatar 95 Al Sulaiti/Di Biase 11pts
9. GFN Gibellato - Montavoci/Cirilli 9pts
10. Roscioli Hotels - Giorgi/Polli 2pts


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


Nigel Quilter, Press Officer, UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship
Mobile: + 44 7785 325346, e-mail: q@q4media.com


Date issued: 05/11/2005

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