F1 Fourth place for Jay Price of Qatar Team in Grand Prix of France
2007 UIM F1 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, round 2
Grand Prix of France, Charente-Maritime/La Rochelle, May 20th, 2007
For immediate release
Sunday, May 20th, 2007
QATAR F1 TEAM'S PRICE TAKES HARD-EARNED
FOURTH PLACE IN TRICKY GRAND PRIX OF FRANCE
Finland's Sami Selio wins action-packed La Rochelle race;
Qatar Team's Leo Bonelli scrapes into top eight after difficult race
LA ROCHELLE (France): Qatar F1 Team drivers Jay Price and Leo Bonelli headed into a three-month break in the 2007 UIM F1 World Championship by taking fourth and eighth positions in Sunday's Grand Prix of France inside the port at La Rochelle on the French Atlantic coast. The second race of the nine-event calendar was won by Finland's Sami Selio from the F1 Team Energy operation.
Price and Bonelli started the French race in sixth and 12th positions after a weather-shortened time trial session on Saturday afternoon. Rain and cloudy conditions improved as the start of the race neared. The UAE's Ahmed Al-Hamli, team mate Thani Al-Qamzi and Italian Guido Cappellini were the early pacesetters, although Al-Hamli jumped the start. He maintained his advantage through 10 laps, with Al-Qamzi, Scott Gillman and Cappellini in close pursuit. Both Price and Bonelli were running down the leaderboard, but Cappellini was forced to pit with engine problems on lap 13.
Running at the front of the field with the threat of a penalty, Al-Hamli maintained the virtual lead over Al-Qamzi and Gillman, with pole setter David Trask moving up to third place. Price and Bonelli were down in ninth and 12th places and not able to close the gap on the leaders. Al-Hamli eventually pulled out before 23 laps had been completed and the Emirates team duo of Al-Qamzi and Gillman began to press home their advantage. The Emirati maintained his lead, although Gillman slipped to fourth behind Trask and Sami Selio, only for the Finn to pass the Australian and take second position.
By lap 37, Al-Qamzi's overall lead had been whittled down to just 1.3 seconds, as Selio clawed his way into contention. Gillman, Andersson and local hero Phillipe Dessertenne completed the ever-changing top five, as Price climbed into seventh place for the Qatar Team.
Both Trask and Al-Qamzi were robbed of potential podium finishes just three laps from the end. They were forced to stop with technical problems and Selio headed Gillman, Andersson, Dessertenne and Price into the final three laps. The top three held station over the nail-biting final metres, but Price moved into fourth place for the Qatar Team to maintain his championship challenge after Dessertenne dramatically stopped on the last lap.
~It was a difficult race for us,~ said Pelle Larsson, F1 Team Manager at the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF). ~Several boats jumped the start and that meant both Jay and Leo were running behind and trying to get back to the front of the field. It was not easy to overtake, but Jay drove a superb race to claw his way back from the bad start. Several boats ran out of fuel near the finish and we were delighted to see Jay up to fourth place. Leo struggled to make up ground, but he finished in the points with eighth place.~
In this morning's free practice session, Price was in inspired form and was the class of the field, the Louisiana driver setting a best time of 54.40s during his eight-lap stint. Pole-setter David Trask was second and Pierre Lundin was third out of the blocks. Bonelli also ran eight laps, but was down in 15th position with a fastest time of 1m 00.85s.
The Qatar team runs from the auspices of the QMSF and the presidency of His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani.
The F1 calendar resumes in mid-August with the Grand Prix of Singapore - the first of four races in the Far East through the late summer and early autumn months.
GP of France - race results (unofficial @ 14.45hrs)
1. Sami Selio (FIN) F1 Team Energy
2. Scott Gillman (USA) Emirates Team
3. Jonas Andersson (S) F1 Team Sweden
4. Jay Price (USA) Qatar F1 Team
5. Phillipe Chiappe (F) Atlantic Team
8. Leo Bonelli (I) Qatar F1 Team
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