C1 Sheikh Hassan takes superb second place in Norwegian Grand Prix
2007 WPPA CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
Norwegian Grand Prix, Sunday, July 22nd, 2007
For immediate release
Sunday, July 22nd, 2007
QATAR'S SHEIKH HASSAN MOVES INTO TITLE CONTENTION
WITH SUPERB SECOND PLACE IN NORWEGIAN GRAND PRIX
Disappointment for Qatar 95 as Qatar 96 finishes second overall;
Victory 77 takes second successive victory in thrilling Norwegian Grand Prix
ARENDAL (Norway): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini finished a superb second overall in the Norwegian Grand Prix, round two of the 2007 WPPA Class 1 World Powerboat Championship, at Arendal in Norway. The result marked Sheikh Hassan's 11th podium finish in Class 1 racing.
Dubai's Arif Said Al-Zafeen and French throttleman Jean-Marc Sanchez maintained their championship lead by taking a second successive victory in Victory 77, but Pole winners Bjorn Rune Gjelsten and Steve Curtis were unable to kick-start their championship challenge following a disappointing result in Greece last month. The Anglo-Norwegian pairing held the lead in Arendal for five laps, before being forced to return to the pits with mechanical problems. They eventually finished sixth.
Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Luca Nicolini started the race from sixth and the second row of the grid, as they attempted to improve on the fourth position they achieved in Greece last month. They eventually slipped down the leader board with engine-related problems and returned to the pits before the end of the race.
~I am very pleased with the result today,~ said Sheikh Hassan. ~It means that we are level in the championship in second place with Victory 7 and in a good position to challenge Victory 77 and try and take the lead next month. It was a difficult race. Everyone was racing aggressively early on, but we managed to get passed Victory 7 on the start lap and then just knuckled down and held our lines. Already this year's championship is proving to be very interesting and that is sure to continue through the season.~
Both SevenEleven and Negotiator had stopped in the early stages of the race, as Spirit of Norway held the advantage from Arif Said Al-Zafeen and Jean-Marc Sanchez - the winners of the Greek Grand Prix - in Victory 77 and Sheikh Hassan and Matteo Nicolini in Qatar 96. After four laps, the defending champions maintained the initiative, as Victory 77 and Qatar 96 laid claim to the podium places. Victory 7, Jotun and Qatar 95 were in hot pursuit.
By lap nine, the leader board had turned upside down: Victory 77 inherited the lead and was on course for a second successive victory. Sheikh Hassan and Matteo Nicolini moved up to second position, with Victory 7, both Foresti & Suardi boats and the second Spirit of Norway hull, crewed by Tom Barry-Cotter and Pal-Virik Nilsen, in the hunt.
Jotun stopped for the second race in succession, but early leaders Spirit of Norway, who had led from laps one to five, returned to the pits with mechanical problems. The crew slipped to eighth position until Qatar 95 pitted near the end of the race with engine-related problems and Spirit moved up to an eventual sixth.
Over the closing nerve-wracking laps the leading trio held station and a triumphant Victory 77 crew seized a second successive victory, as second-placed Qatar 96 and third-placed Victory 7 maintained their title challenges before the second Norwegian race in mid-August.
There had been no problems for the Qatar Team in Sunday's morning's practice. Qatar 96 set the third fastest time in the final official practice session, with Sheikh Hassan and Matteo Nicolini posting a first lap of 4m 38.36s. Both Victory 7 and Victory 77 were the quickest boats on the water, but Pole Position winner Spirit of Norway failed to record a practice time. Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Luca Nicolini were back on a competitive pace with a time of 4m 44.21s.
2007 WPPA Class 1 World Powerboat Championship - Norwegian Grand Prix (unofficial - round 2)
1. Arif Said Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F)Victory 77
2. Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani (QA)/Matteo Nicolini (I) Qatar 96
3. Ahmed Al-Suwaidi (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE) Victory 7
4. Marco Pennesi (I)/Giampaolo Montavoci (I) Foresti & Suardi 8
5. Tom Barry-Cotter (AUS)/Pal-Virik Nilsen (N) Spirit of Norway 20
6. Bjorn Rune Gjelsten (N)/Steve Curtis (GB) Spirit of Norway 10
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