C1 Engine problems wreck Qatar Team hopes in Qatar GP Pole Position race

Qatar Grand Prix, round 1 – Saturday, April 29th, 2006

For immediate release
Friday, April 28th, 2006


Spirit of Norway takes Pole Position win in Qatar Grand Prix;
Britain’s King of Shaves takes second place; Jotun in third

DOHA (Qatar): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini set a fastest time of 3m 17.187s and finished in a lowly sixth position in a blustery Qatar Grand Prix Pole Position Championship race in Doha Bay, today (Friday).

Maximum points in the opening Pole event of this year’s 10-round UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship fell to the Anglo-Norwegian pairing of Steve Curtis and Bjorn Gjelsten, with a winning time of 2m 57.469s on their first and only lap and the last of an exciting Pole Position session.

Sheikh Hassan’s team mates Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Lino Di Biase finishing ninth overall in Qatar 95, but both Qatar Team boats were troubled by serious engine management system problems relating to the incompatibility of new Mercury-supplied ECU units.

“We have received these new ECUs from Mercury and they were obviously designed for pleasure craft not tuned race boats,” groaned Nicolini. “As soon as you venture above 5,000 rpm the engine cuts and you have to stop and reset everything. We need to come up with a solution to this, because it is impossible to race at the moment.”

The Italians Giuseppe Chillocci and Mauro Esperto were the first crew into the eye of a gusting wind in Doha Bay and, when they flipped their Ceramiche Flaminia boat on the warm-up lap, it set the tone for a dramatic afternoon’s racing.

Only Pole-winning Spirit of Norway managed to break the three-minute barrier. Giampaolo Montavoci and Domenico Cirilli set a target of 3m 04.00s in Forest&Suardi-Roscioli Hotels early on. It was soon beaten, however, by Jorn Tandberg and Christian Zaborowski in Jotun and Chris Parsonage and James Sheppard in King of Shaves, with the Dubai-based Victory 77 crew of Mohammed Al-Marri and Jean-Marc Sanchez slotting into fourth place. But one lap at the end of the session by the defending champions was enough to ensure that Spirit of Norway will start Saturday’s race from Pole Position.

‘We had been quiet pleased with the results of the practice session this morning, when we carried out another propeller test,” said Sheikh Hassan. “Matteo and I sat down after that and discussed our tactics for today’s Pole and tomorrow’s race.”

But even before Sheikh Hassan and Nicolini were forced to stop on their first lap with ECU-related problems, the same fate had befallen team mates Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Lino Di Biase in Qatar 95. “We cannot race with this system,” groaned Al-Sulaiti. “It is not possible to run these ECUs in the boats and be competitive. We stopped to reset everything on the first lap and the plan was to continue for another lap and set a better time, but then an engine shut down again and we were fearful of going into a spin. There was no point in wrecking the boat, so we will start from the back tomorrow and try and get back into the top five.”

Spirit of Norway had again set the pace in this morning’s two-hour practice session, posting a fastest time of 2m 52.219s, but the ever-improving Qatar 96 crew maintained their progress with times of 2m 57.531s and 2m 55.953s, as Sheikh Hassan and Nicolini switched between propeller settings to arrive at the ideal set-up for the weekend’s race action and again post the second fastest practice time.

Al-Sulaiti and Di Biase improved on Thursday’s first practice time of 2m 59.87s with a session’s best of 2m 58.89s. This marked them out as the fifth fastest boat of the session, fractions of a second ahead of the British King of Shaves boat (2m 59.141s), but behind third-placed Victory 77 (2m 57.203s) and Jotun (2m 57.578s) in fourth.

“Because of the change to the rules this year we started with a cast propeller, but that did not really help and we decided to make a change,” said Al-Sulaiti. “We have only had two days to test so far and I am sure that we will get there over the coming days.”

Tomorrow (Saturday) marks the opening Grand Prix in this year’s 10-round series in Doha Bay. The day’s timetable will commence with a two-hour official practice session from 09.00 hrs. The Qatar Grand Prix starts at 14.30 hrs and will be followed by the official prize giving presentation on the Corniche, near the Asian Games Mascot. Saturday’s Qatar Grand Prix will be held over a start lap of 3.92 Nm, 15 timed laps of the short course and two long laps of 5.74 Nm in a total race distance of 92.35 Nm.

Qatar Grand Prix - Pole Position results (unofficial) –
1. Spirit of Norway 10 (Gjelsten (N)/Curtis (GB)) 2m 57.46s
2. King of Shaves 50 (Parsonage (GB)/Sheppard(GB)) 3m 01.87s
3. Jotun 90 (Tandberg (N)/Zaborowski (N)) 3m 02.10s
4. Victory 77 (Al-Marri (UAE)/Sanchez (F)) 3m 03.31s
5. Foresti & Suardi 8 (Monavoci (I)/Cirilli (E)) 3m 04.00s
6. Qatar 96 (Al-Thani (QA)/Di Biase (I)) 3m 17.18s
7. Victory 7 (Bin Hindi (UAE)/Al-Suwaidi (UAE)) 3m17.98s
8. Seveneleven 9 (Giorgi (I)/Nilsen (N)) 3m 26.15s
9. Qatar 95 (Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Di Biase (I)) 4m 41.56s
Ceramiche Flaminia 2 (Chillocci (I)/Esperto (I)) DNF – accident

Pole Position Championship positions after round 1:
1. Spirit of Norway 20 pts
2. King of Shaves 15 pts
3. Jotun 12 pts
4. Victory 77 9 pts
5. Foresti & Suardi 7 pts
6. Qatar 96 5 pts
7. Victory 7 4 pts
8. Seveneleven 3 pts
9. Qatar 95 2 pts
10. Ceramiche Flaminia 0 pt


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: 28/04/2006

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