C1 Dramatic win for Victory 77 in Qatar Grand Prix

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

For immediate release
Monday, November 7th, 2005


Dramatic win for Victory 77 in Doha
Spirit of Norway takes third position

DOHA (Qatar): The Victory 77 crew of Jean-Marc Sanchez and Mohammed Al-Marri took a dramatic last-gasp victory in the Qatar Grand Prix in calm water conditions in Doha Bay on Monday. But the race developed into a thrilling two-boat duel between Victory 77 and the local favourites Qatar 96, with Victory 77 clinching the win on the final home straight.

Qatar Team Principal Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini started from second position in the pre-race holding area in 96, as they attempted to defend a slender four-point championship lead. But Victory 77 surged through the field into a shock lead at the end of lap one and led throughout the 18 laps, despite fierce pressure throughout from Qatar 96 and Spirit of Norway over the opening three laps.

Beginning the race without the three-point bonus for running the same pair of Lamborghini engines as they had in Trondheim, the Qatar 96 crew at least had the knowledge that their Anglo-Norwegian rivals would need to complete a longer penalty lap during the day's 18-lap race. Besides, Spirit had its own problems in the minutes before the start when traces of water were discovered in the fuel.

When Spirit was forced to take a penalty lap early on, they fell out of contention for an outright win as Victory 77 and Qatar 96 pulled clear. They were separated by a mere 5.75 seconds after lap nine, 3.66 seconds after lap 11 and 1.6 seconds after lap 13.

But when the finish flag was mistakenly raised a lap before the finish by race officials, Victory 77 maintained the initiative better over the nervy closing lap to record a first win of the season, beating Qatar 96 by 8.87 seconds. The Qatar Team's consolation was maintaining their lead in this year's UIM World Championship over Spirit of Norway and third-placed Victory 77 with three races remaining.

~It was a fantastic race,~ said Sheikh Hassan. ~It must have been thrilling for the local spectators. We had a good strategy and it very nearly paid off for us. We just could not quite get passed. But the result was just what we needed to extend our lead in the championship.~

Spirit of Norway were a comfortable and untroubled third to maintain their championship challenge and Qatar 95 overcame high engine temperatures to clinch fourth position, Abdullah Al-Sulaiti's and Lino di Biase's cause helped when the Negotiator boat of Chris Parsonage and Randy Scism, which had been running fourth, was sidelined with a broken propeller. The Jotun boat finished fifth.

Victory 7 rolled out of contention on the third lap in an accident reminiscent of the one which had wrecked one of the Victory boats in Sunday's Pole Position race.

~We carried out a small shakedown this morning just to get everything set up as we wanted before the race,~ said Sheikh Hassan. ~Matteo and I are working together better in the cockpit all the time. He is excellent at reading the situation and knowing exactly when to push and when to hold back. He is very capable at keeping the team together, which can be very difficult to do at times.~

Spirit of Norway had taken Pole Position during Sunday's qualifying race, pipping both Qatar 96 and Victory 7 to the lead position on the first timed qualifying lap for team members Steve Curtis and Bard Eker. Following the spectacular crash which sidelined Victory 77 on Sunday, Victory team mechanics had worked throughout the night to replace the Mercury engines with Lamborghiini V12s in the spare Victory 4 boat and this hull was used by Rashid Al-Marri and Nadir Bin Hindi for today's race.

The majority of media, officials and team members will now remain in Doha for the next two days, as service crews refettle boats and engines in preparation for the second Qatar Grand Prix on Saturday, November 12th. The first official practice sessions for this race take place on Thursday, with the Pole Position Championship race running on Friday afternoon on the same course in Doha Bay.

1. Victory 77 - Al Marri/Sanchez 50m 00.76s
2. Qatar 96 - Al Thani/Nicolini 50m 09.63s
3. Spirit of Norway - Eker/Curtis 50m 23.67s
4. Qatar 95 Al Sulaiti/Di Biase 52m 52.52s
5. Jotun - Tandberg/Zaborowski 52m 06.32s + 1 lap, etc


For further media information, contact:
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile: + 971 50 3616881 and E-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)

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


Date issued: 07/11/2005

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