C1 Victory 77 posts fastest time in first practice for Middle East Grand Prix

Middle East Grand Prix, round 2 – Thursday, May 4th, 2006

For immediate release
Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006


King of Shaves takes second fastest time; Qatar 96 third;
Qatar Team’s Sheikh Hassan relishes second Doha race;
Punishing heat stifles teams during practice in Doha Bay

DOHA (Qatar): Frenchman Jean-Marc Sanchez and the UAE’s Mohammed Al-Marri set the fastest time in the first official practice session for Thursday’s Middle East Grand Prix at the helm of Victory 77, today (Tuesday).

The Victory 77 crew were the first out on to the water and posted a pair of impressive early laps of 2m 55.96s and 2m.54.79s, the team’s fastest practice laps so far in Qatar this year. Qatar 95 aborted a pair of warm-up laps to make minor technical changes, before posting a fifth-fastest 3m 05.922s, but Jotun was the only other boat to challenge Victory 77 with a 3m 00.078s time in the first hour to take fourth on the day. Nicola Giorgi and Pal-Viirk Nilsen were disappointed with a solitary lap time of 3m 40.67s in Sevenleven.

Chris Parsonage and James Sheppard posted three consistent laps, with a best of 2m 55.454s to take the second fastest time of the day in King of Shaves, before His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian team mate Matteo Nicolini took to the water in slightly cooler temperatures, 20 minutes before the end of the session, in Qatar 96. They posted a solitary lap of 2m 58.7023s to post the third fastest time of the day. Last Saturday’s Qatar Grand Prix winners Bjorn Gjelsten and Steve Curtis decided not to use the two-hour practice allocation with Spirit of Norway.

Today’s opening practice session was delayed two hours because of low tidal conditions and eventually took place in hot and humid conditions. According to His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani, driver of Qatar 96, an outside temperature of around 35 degrees Centigrade can rise to around 50 degrees Centigrade inside the cockpit. “We all need to make sure we drink plenty of water and keep hydrated,” insisted the President of the QMSF. “Dehydrating affects concentration and can lead to more serious problems.

”Matteo carried out some tests yesterday and everything was working fine,” added Sheikh Hassan. “Before we went out this afternoon the plan was to flush out the old engine software and reinstall it to make sure that it was working and we had no problems with the engine alarms. We found the D1 and D2 buoys at the north of the circuit quite problematic during the last race and this created quite a big gap between us and Victory 77. But hopefully we can overcome this on Thursday.

“I am confident that we can close the gap on Spirit of Norway over the next two days. Maybe if the engine problem arises we will not have to pull back so hard on the throttles. It is crucial that you have the alarm system on the boats in case of an emergency, but we still need to gain our confidence in the system.

“We plan to have a board meeting after the practice session on Wednesday morning and the power output of the Mercury engines will be discussed. We will be able to identify the level of power output. We don’t want the UIM to feel anything untoward towards our team if we make any improvements to the boat in the coming races. For example, we could benefit from a good propeller choice or a wise gear ratio and we want to make sure that the UIM does not reduce the power output of our engines if we make progress in other areas. We want stability in the regulations like everyone else.”

Tomorrow (Wednesday) marks the Pole Position competition for this year’s Middle East Grand Prix. Teams will be able to benefit from a second official practice session between 09.00 hrs and 11.00 hrs, before they are permitted two clear qualifying runs on the course between 15.00 hrs and 16.15hrs. Boats will run according to their positions in the overall championship after last Saturday’s Qatar Grand Prix, with race winners Spirit of Norway running at the end of the stint.


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: 02/05/2006

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