C1 Second position for Qatar 96 in Romanian Grand Prix
2007 WPPA CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
Romanian Grand Prix, September 2nd, 2007, round 4 of 8
For immediate release
Sunday, September 2nd, 2007
SHEIKH HASSAN MISSES OUT ON EUROPEAN TITLE
BUT TAKES SUPERB SECOND PLACE IN ROMANIA
· Podium finish for third-placed Abdullah Al-Sulaiti in Qatar 95
· Al-Zafeen and Sanchez clinch WPPA European title in Victory 77
MAMAIA (Romania): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini were unable to wrest the WPPA European Powerboat Championship title from the clutches of Arif Said Al-Zafeen and Jean-Marc Sanchez in Victory 77, but they managed to finish Sunday’s Romanian Grand Prix on Mamaia’s Lake Siutghiol in another superb second place to strengthen their world title challenge.
The result marked the President of the Qatar Marine Sport’s Federation’s 13th podium finish in Class 1 racing to add to his two GP victories. Qatar 95 team mates Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Lino Nicolini were a fine third overall in a controversial race which was won by Al-Zafeen and Sanchez in Victory 77. The result marked Al-Sulaiti’s second third place in a 17-race Class 1 career that was so far earned him one Grand Prix victory (Doha 2006), three second places and two third-placed finishes.
“We missed out on the European title, but it was an excellent weekend for the Qatar Team with second and third places,” said Sheikh Hassan. “Abdullah and Lino showed improvements with Qatar 95 and Matteo and I managed to take crucial championship points to remain in second place in the championship and maintain the pressure on Victory 77.
“We managed to edge further away from Spirit of Norway and that gives us a fantastic opportunity to achieve our goal of the World and Middle East Championships on the final four races of the year in Egypt, Qatar and the UAE.”
From the outset the Victory Team were intent on securing the European title for Al-Zafeen and Sanchez in Victory 77, but it was their UAE team mates Talib Al-Saeed and Nadir Bin Hendi who moved into an early lead in Victory 7. The pair headed Victory 77 after three laps, with Sheikh Hassan down in third place in Qatar 96.
Bjorn Rune Gjelsten and Steve Curtis MBE found themselves down in fourth in Spirit of Norway, while Norwegian Bard Eker and Britain’s Chris Parsonage were enjoying better fortunes in fifth-placed Negotiator after a miserable start to the season. Al-Sulaiti and Lino Nicolini held sixth in Qatar 95. A reported propeller problem cost Victory 7 the overall lead and, by lap 12, Victory 77 was running ahead of the field on a march towards the European title.
The race developed into a positive one for the Qatar Team, however, and Sheikh Hassan – competing in his 32nd Class 1 Grand Prix - benefited from Victory 7’s misfortune to move into second position, closely followed by third-placed Al-Sulaiti. Gjelsten and Curtis maintained fourth, with Negotiator rounding off the top five.
It would only take a mechanical problem for Al-Zafeen and Sanchez in Victory 77 and Sheikh Hassan was in prime position to benefit by snatching the European title over the closing laps. Over the subsequent five circuits the leading trio held station, with Victory 77 closing in on the European title from the chasing Qatari duo in Qatar 96 and Qatar 95.
By lap 17, Eker and Parsonage had passed Spirit of Norway to take fourth position, with VM Foresti & Suardi, Tom Barry Cotter and Pal-Virik Nilsen in the second Spirit of Norway boat, SevenEleven, the second Foresti & Suardi hull and Jotun completing the surviving top 10.
There were no late dramas for Victory 77 and the triumphant UAE crew sealed a 12-second victory and the European title over the final four laps, with Sheikh Hassan clinching second position to maintain his World Championship challenge. Al-Sulaiti confirmed third, despite a fierce late challenge from Gjelsten and Curtis in Spirit of Norway. Negotiator slipped to fifth, while VM Foresti & Suardi, Spirit of Norway 20, SevenEleven, Foresti & Suardi and Jotun rounding off the lower reaches of the results.
Sheikh Hassan and Matteo Nicolini had been on the pace in Sunday morning’s final practice session, the Qatar 96 duo running for two laps and posting a fastest time of 2m 48.11s. The Victory 7 crew of Talib Al-Saeed and Nadir Bin Hendi had been second in a time of 2m 49.00s, with Victory 77 and Qatar 95 in third and fourth. The Pole-winning Spirit of Norway boat was back in fifth with a lap of 2m 56.20s.
2007 Romanian Grand Prix – final results (unofficial):
1. Arif Said Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F) Victory 77 56m 31.56s
2. Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani (QA)/Matteo Nicolini (I) Qatar 96 + 12s
3. Abdullah Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Luca Nicolini (I) Qatar 95 + 1m 33.87s
4. Bjorn Rune Gjelsten (N)/Steve Curtis MBE (GB) Spirit of Norway 10
5. Bard Eker (N)/Chris Parsonage (GB) Negotiator 50, etc
For further information:
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: email@example.com. www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases).