C1 Qatar 95 takes second overall in Honda British Grand Prix

Honda British Grand Prix, round 5 – Sunday, August 6th, 2006

For immediate release
Sunday, August 6th, 2006


Outright British Grand Prix win for Victory 77;
Third lap agony for early leaders Qatar 96

PLYMOUTH (England): The Qatar 95 crew of Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Lino Di Biase finished the Honda British Grand Prix in a superb second overall on Plymouth Sound, today (Sunday). Qatar 96 team mates His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Matteo Nicolini had led the dramatic and action-packed race for two laps before succumbing to engine-related problems.

The outright win fell to Mohammed Al-Marri and Jean-Marc Sanchez in Victory 77, while defending champions Spirit of Norway continue to lead this year’s UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship, despite finishing seventh overall after pitting to replace a broken propeller. The Qatar Team now holds fourth and fifth in the overall championship standings.

In front of a massive crowd, Sheikh Hassan and Matteo Nicolini edged into an early lead and were just under six seconds ahead of Victory 77 in perfect race conditions when a supercharger belt let go at the start of the third lap. This handed the advantage to the Dubai-based crew, as Spirit of Norway and Victory 7 took the first of their two compulsory long laps. Victory 77 edged further ahead over the subsequent laps, with local heroes Chris Parsonage and James Sheppard holding second place between the third and fifth laps.

“Whatever next?” said Sheikh Hassan. “We had bad luck yet again. We made a great start. The acceleration we had was fantastic and I was feeling really good about everything. Then, suddenly, we shed a supercharger belt on the right engine and that was that. There was no point heading for the pits. It was the same problem we had in Norway. These are new engines and we are still learning what can go wrong. But it wasn’t all bad news. Abdullah and Lino did a great job in Qatar 95 and have pushed themselves right into contention for the championship and Jotun and Spirit failed to collect a lot of points, so it is still wide open for the rest of the season.”

Qatar’s Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Lino Di Biase were enjoying an excellent run in Qatar 95 and held third until the sixth lap, when they moved into second overall after King of Shaves took a long lap. The leaders held station over the next few tours, but Spirit of Norway was forced into the pits for a propeller change on lap eight and chaos ensued on the next circuit when King of Shaves flipped upside down in front of a partisan crowd on Plymouth Hoe. With a red flag raised by local race officials, a safety boat was summoned while the hull was removed from the race course and the unharmed crew were taken to safety.

The pace boat controlled proceedings for the subsequent two laps and the high-speed action resumed at the end of lap 14 when a white flag was raised. Victory 77 duly headed into the closing laps, ahead of Qatar 95, Victory 7, Foresti&Suardi, Jotun, Ceramiche Flaminia, Spirit of Norway - which had rejoined the race at the rear of the field - and SevenEleven.

To adhere to the overall time limit of the race meeting, the Grand Prix was duly shortened by two laps and Victory 77 managed to hold off Qatar 95 over the last two laps to take victory by the margin of just under 10 seconds. Victory 7 completed the podium places, with Foresti&Suardi and Jotun completing the top five.

“We carried out a useful acceleration test this morning and tried out a new gear selector and everything was fine, but the important thing was the start we made to the race,” said Sheikh Hassan. “That 1.5 mile straight to the first buoy was crucial. I was very pleased with our start!”

“We tried another set-up this morning, but I was not happy and we reverted to Saturday’s for the race,” said Abdullah Al-Sulaiti. “Our entire race strategy was based upon the first corner and whether we were running in clear or dirty water. There was no point taking a long lap early on if we could take advantage of clean water. I suppose this is where you rely on the radio and instructions from the team.”

In Sunday morning’s final one-hour practice session, both Qatar 96 and Qatar 95 took to the water first and used the opportunity to carry our acceleration tests. Pole winners Mohammed Al-Marri and Jean-Marc Sanchez set a largely irrelevant fastest time of 3m 04.26s, but Spirit of Norway was towed back to the pontoon with a damaged engine and the Norwegian mechanics were forced to race against the clock to replace a Lamborghini unit for the main event. Neither SevenEleven nor King of Shaves took part in the morning’s practice.

Today’s Honda British Grand Prix was held over one short lap, 12 normal laps and two compulsory long laps in Plymouth Sound. A large crowd gathered to witness the action, with thousands of people lining the walls of Plymouth Hoe and packing into sea-side bars and cafes in near-perfect English summer conditions.

The next round of the UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship will take place at Portorose in Slovenia at the start of September.

Honda British Grand Prix positions – (provisional @ 16.40 hrs)
1. Victory 77 (Al-Marri (UAE)/Sanchez (F)) 59m 53.42s
2. Qatar 95 (Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Di Biase (I)) @ 9.89s
3. Victory 7 (Bin Hindi (UAE)/Al-Suwaidi (UAE)) @19.47s
4. Foresti & Suardi 8 (Monavoci (I)/Cirilli (E)) @ 55.34s
5. Jotun 90 (Tandberg (N)/Zaborowski (N)) 1 lap behind
6. Ceramiche Flaminia 2 (Chillocci (I)/Leppala (FIN)) 1 lap behind
7. Spirit of Norway 10 (Gjelsten (N)/Curtis (GB)) 2 laps behind
8. Seveneleven 9 (Giorgi (I)/Nilsen (N)) 2 laps behind
King of Shaves 50 (Parsonage (GB)/Sheppard(GB)) DNF
Qatar 96 (Al-Thani (QA)/Di Biase (I)) DNF

UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship
Positions after round 5:
1. Spirit of Norway 72 pts
2. Victory 77 62 pts
3. Jotun 59 pts
4. Qatar 95 55 pts
5. Qatar 96 51 pts
6. Foresti & Suardi 44 pts
7. Victory 7 43 pts
8. Ceramiche Flaminia 23 pts
9. King of Shaves 22 pts
10. Seveneleven 12 pts

(Championship points include bonus points allocated to teams for running
engines for two consecutive engines - one point, per engine, per race)


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: 06/08/2006

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