C1 Sheikh Hassan set to start Romanian Grand Prix in third place
2007 WPPA CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
Romanian Grand Prix, September 1st-2nd, 2007, round 4 of 8
For immediate release
Saturday, September 1st, 2007
QATAR CLASS 1 CREWS SET TO START ROMANIAN
GRAND PRIX IN THIRD AND FIFTH PLACES
· Edox Pole Position victory falls to Gjelsten and Curtis in Spirit of Norway
· Sheikh Hassan shows competitive edge in build-up to Sunday’s race
· Qatar 96 crew use replacement engine for Edox Pole Position
MAMAIA (Romania): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini will start Sunday’s Romanian Grand Prix on Mamaia’s Lake Siutghiol in third position, as the Qatar 96 crew bid to clinch the WPPA European Championship title for the second time in three years.
They overcame engine problems on Friday to bounce back with an excellent performance during Saturday afternoon’s Edox Pole Position, although they were pipped to the runner-up spot in the closing minutes of qualifying by the championship-leading Victory 77 crew of Arif Said Al-Zafeen and Jean-Marc Sanchez.
Qatar 95 team mates Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Lino Nicolini will start the race in fifth position, after the thrilling pole competition which was won by Bjorn Rune Gjelsten and Steve Curtis MBE in Spirit of Norway. They have now taken three consecutive Pole wins in Arendal, Oslo and Mamaia.
Spirit of Norway edged into the lead during the first 15 minutes of the qualifying session with a fastest lap of 2m 41.71s, closely followed by a hard-pushing Sheikh Hassan and Matteo Nicolini in Qatar 96 with a best time of 2m 43.79s. Championship leaders Victory 77 were third, with Jotun, Qatar 95 and Victory 7 completing the top six heading into the final 45 minutes.
Jotun managed to pass Victory 77 during the middle section of the qualifying session and headed into the final 15 minutes behind Spirit of Norway and Qatar 96. But the championship leading Victory 77 crew hit back in the final quarter and moved into second position behind Spirit of Norway with a fastest lap of 2m 43.53s. Qatar 96 duly moved down to third place entering the final five minutes of the session and they retained this position to the finish, with Jotun, Qatar 95 and Victory 7 completing the top six.
This weekend marks the first time that Class 1 racing has taken place in Romania and Mamaia – the country’s largest Black Sea tourist resort – was chosen as the venue because of his excellent facilities and proximity to the city of Constanta. Often referred as the ‘Perle of the Litoral’, the Mamaia resort lies a short distance to the north of the city between the Black Sea and Lake Siutghiol.
Saturday afternoon’s Edox Pole competition reverted to a more traditional style, with drivers permitted to run for between two and four laps during a one-hour time period. They were also permitted to return to the wet pits to make any minor changes to settings. This format replaced the five-boat shoot-out that had been used in Arendal and Oslo, although the start order for qualifying was determined by championship positions.
The Qatar Team had hoped to acclimatise to the unique fresh water conditions on Lake Siutghiol during Friday afternoon’s first official practice sessions. But Qatar 96 suffered engine problems and posted a solitary lap of 4m 33.93s, which turned out to be the 10th fastest time.
Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Luca Nicolini were sixth quickest in a time of 2m 56.28s on the second of four laps in Qatar 95, but Spirit of Norway was the quickest boat on the water with a potent 2m 46.32s, followed by the championship-leading Victory 77 of Arif Said Al-Zafeen and Jean-Marc Sanchez, Jotun and Victory 7.
“Matteo and I had a bad start to the weekend during the first practice session on Friday,” admitted Sheikh Hassan. “We noticed water in the oil of the left-hand engine and had to make a decision whether to run the engine today and take the risk or change it before Pole Position. We changed it without problems and it was a good decision because the boat was up to speed straight away. I suppose if you are going to have a technical problem, it is better to have it on Friday than when it really matters on Saturday or Sunday.”
With a new Skema V12 engine in situ, Qatar 96 posted the third quickest time of 2m 45.98s on the first of two practice laps on Saturday morning, with Qatar 95 fourth quickest in 2m 48.78s after running for nine laps with the Mercury Class 1 V8s. Spirit of Norway and Victory 77 were again the fastest two boats on the water, with Gjelsten and Curtis topping the times in 2m 41m 39s.
There is a third official practice session on Sunday morning before the Romanian Grand Prix fires into life at 15.00 hrs (local time) over a distance of 97.76 Nm and a 21-lap course on the normally-calm and fresh waters of Lake Siutghiol in Mamaia.
2007 Romanian Grand Prix – Edox Pole Position results (unofficial):
1. Bjorn Rune Gjelsten (N)/Steve Curtis MBE (GB) Spirit of Norway 10 2m 41.71s
2. Arif Said Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F) Victory 77 2m 43.53s
3. Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani (QA)/Matteo Nicolini (I) Qatar 96 2m 43.79s
4. Jorn Tandberg (N)/Christian Zaborowski (N) Jotun 90 2m 46.32s
5. Abdullah Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Luca Nicolini (I) Qatar 95 2m 47.86s
6. Talib Al-Saeed (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE) Victory 7 2m 48.61s, etc
2007 Edox Pole Position Championship – latest positions (unofficial):
1. Bjorn Rune Gjelsten (N)/Steve Curtis MBE (GB) Spirit of Norway 10 60 pts
2. Arif Said Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F) Victory 77 42 pts
3. Talib Al-Sayed(UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE) Victory 7 32 pts
4. Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani (QA)/Matteo Nicolini (I) Qatar 96 30 pts
5. Abdullah Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Luca Nicolini (I) Qatar 95 19pts
6. Jorn Tandberg (N)/Christian Zaborowski (N) Jotun 90 19 pts, etc
For further information:
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: email@example.com. www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases).