C1 Fourth and seventh for Qatar Team in Norwegian Grand Prix
UIM CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
Norwegian Grand Prix, round 4 – Sunday, July 23rd, 2006
For immediate release
Sunday, July 23rd, 2006
QATAR 96 TEAM TAKES FOURTH PLACE
IN THRILLING NORWEGIAN GRAND PRIX
Maiden home Norwegian Grand Prix win for Jotun crew;
Ninth lap agony for seventh-placed Al-Sulaiti and Di Biase in Qatar 95
ARENDAL (Norway): The Qatar 96 crew of His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Matteo Nicolini finished today’s Norwegian Grand Prix in fourth position after ongoing steering problems, but the overall race victory fell to Norway’s Jorn Tandberg and Christian Zaborowski, who thrilled their home race crowds in the winning Jotun boat by taking their first Class 1 victory in Norway.
The Spirit of Norway crew of Bjorn Gjelsten and Steve Curtis duly extended their overall lead in this year’s UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship at the season’s half-way point and maintained the initiative in the UIM Class 1 European Championship. Sheikh Hassan’s Qatar 95 team mates Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Lino Di Biase held fourth place before retiring on the ninth of 12 laps with mechanical problems, but they scored points for seventh place, courtesy of completing the required percentage of the race.
“I suppose this was the end of the Cinderella story for us and back to earning points,” said Sheikh Hassan. “We had a problem with the steering from the start and as fast as we pushed on the straights, we were losing out on the turns. I think Jotun drove a very clever tactical race in clean waters and it is good for us that they took points off Spirit of Norway. They worked hard on their set-up and it showed today.”
The British crew of Chris Parsonage and James Sheppard started the race from Pole Position in King of Shaves, with Spirit of Norway, Victory 77, Qatar 95 and the Jotun boat completing the front line of the grid. His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Nicolini were forced to start from the second row of the grid in Qatar 96.
Jotun made a good start and headed into a 6.39s lead at the end of the opening lap, with Spirit of Norway, King of Shaves, Victory 77 and Qatar 95 in close contention. Ceramiche Flaminia failed to start the race, as Jotun extended its lead to 8.09s after lap two. Pole winner King of Shaves stopped and the British crew’s misfortune promoted Qatar 95 and Qatar 96 to fourth and fifth places.
Jotun moved into a 22s lead after the fourth lap, with Spirit of Norway and Victory 77 filling the podium positions, although several crews, including Spirit of Norway and Al-Sulaiti and Di Biase in Qatar 95, took the first of their two compulsory long laps. Jotun ran a long lap and maintained a 24s lead through lap five, with Spirit of Norway, Victory 77, Qatar 95, Qatar 96, Foresti & Suardi and Victory 7 trailing behind. The SeveneleveN boat withdrew on its third lap, leaving seven boats in the race.
Jorn Tandberg and Christian Zaborowski completed Jotun’s second long lap on the sixth tour and maintained a 13.7s lead, as Al-Sulaiti also took a second long lap for fourth-placed Qatar 95 to leave the Michael Peters-designed boat in a straight fight for the podium over the closing laps. All the front-runners had completed their long lap strategy after lap seven and Jotun headed into the sprint finish with a 20s lead over Spirit of Norway, with Victory 77 in third and Qatar 95 and Qatar 96 completing the top five.
As Jotun extended its overall lead over Spirit of Norway to 29.4s on the ninth lap, Qatar 95 stopped with mechanical problems and Sheikh Hassan and Matteo Nicolini inherited fourth place in Qatar 96. Jotun extended its lead to 32s after the 10th lap and headed into the final two tours, with Spirit of Norway, Victory 77 and Qatar 96 vying for the final two podium places.
“We got squeezed out at the first buoy by Victory 77 and Jotun and then got caught up in the dirty water and had to slow down,” said Al-Sulaiti. “We maintained fourth place and were running a good race before we ran a propeller failure and that was that. But we completed more than 70% of the race so we could score points. The pace of Jotun was just unbelievable today. For a heavy boat to leave me standing like I was stationery was incredible. It begs questions about the boat’s performance and its power output.”
Jotun began the final lap with a lead of 36s and duly reached the finish to claim a dramatic victory on home waters. Spirit of Norway and Victory 77 completed the podium places and Sheikh Hassan and Matteo Nicolini earned valuable points for fourth place and maintained a top three position in the overall Class 1 championship.
“Before the race we had experienced a very disappointing weekend,” said His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani, driver of Qatar 96 and President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF). “We blew two transmission units, had a broken water hose and then, just as we were preparing for the Pole Position laps on Saturday, the supercharger belt broke. We managed to record a lap time, but our late entry on to the course was not permitted by race officials and we were eventually excluded from the results for the Pole competition.
“That meant that we had to start today’s race from the second row of the grid. That was always going to be a big disadvantage. Running behind five race boats in dirty water on a tight course, where overtaking is very difficult in any case, was never going to be easy. I was pleased with our practice lap times on Sunday morning, but they were both set in clean water, so Matteo and I needed to work on a new strategy for today’s race. The weather conditions were calmer this morning, but we expected the wind to get up for the race this afternoon.”
In Sunday morning’s final practice session, Qatar 96 recorded two laps and an overall second fastest time of 4m 28.40s, with Spirit of Norway winning the session with a single lap of 4m 27.53s. Qatar 95 recorded a slower 4m 38.06s in readiness for the Grand Prix. “At least we proved that we were on the pace and making improvements once the mechanical problems had been solved,” added Sheikh Hassan.
The next round of the UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship will be the British Grand Prix off the coast of Plymouth on August 4th-6th.
Norwegian Grand Prix results (unofficial @ 15.45 hrs)
1. Jotun 90 - Tandberg (N)/Zaborowski (N)
2. Spirit of Norway 10 - Gjelsten (N)/Curtis (GB)
3. Victory 77 - Al-Marri (UAE)/Sanchez (F)
4. Qatar 96 - Al-Thani (QA)/Nicolini (I)
5. Victory 7 - Bin Hendi (UAE)/Al-Suwaidi (UAE)
6. Foresti & Suardi – Cirilli (I)/Montavoci (I)
7. Qatar 95 – Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Di Biase (I)
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