C1 Sheikh Hassan masters the rough conditions to take second on the grid in Egypt



Egyptian Grand Prix, October 26th-27th, 2007, Porto Marina


For immediate release

Friday, October 26th, 2007





Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Qatar 95 set to start in sixth place 

 Pole Position in Egyptian Grand Prix falls to Spirit of Norway


PORTO MARINA (Egypt): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini started their WPPA Class 1 Middle East Powerboat Championship challenge with a superb performance in very rough conditions in the Edox Pole Position qualifying competition for tomorrow’s Egyptian Grand Prix, at Porto Marina, on Friday afternoon.


The Qatar 96 crew finished in second place and will be in an excellent position to achieve their goal of winning the fifth round of the WPPA World Championship and the first event in the prestigious four-round regional series race on Saturday. Team mates Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Luca Nicolini will start the race from sixth place on the grid in the Mercury V8-engined Qatar 95.


The Edox Pole Position winners in Porto Marina were Bjorn Rune Gjelsten and Steve Curtis in Spirit of Norway, while overall championship leaders Arif Said Al-Zafeen and Jean-Marc Sanchez will start in fifth at the helm of Victory 77.  


“The conditions were very tricky, but we are very pleased with second position and we fulfilled the main objective of staying well ahead of Victory 77,” admitted Sheikh Hassan. “We also showed that our boat is quicker than Victory and that bodes well for the race on Saturday. We need to finish ahead of them to close the gap in the championship.”


In very rough weather, Sheikh Hassan and Matteo Nicolini proved to be the masters of the early conditions and set the benchmark with a lap time of 3m 19.43s in the Skema V12-engined Qatar 96. Curtis and Gjelsten were over four seconds behind in a time of 3m 23.71s, with Marco Pennesi and Giampaolo Montavoci in Foresti & Suardi and Al-Sulaiti and Nicolini in Qatar 95 in third and fourth places.


Jotun had been lying fifth through the early stages of the session with a lap of 3m 34s, but the Norwegian crew of Jorn Tandberg and Christian Zaborowski hit the front with a scintillating time of 3m 16.29s and the pressure was on the field to beat the Norwegian time.


The Victory 77 crew had it all to do to enter the top three, but the UAE-based team posted a lap of 3m 24s to lift themselves into fourth position at the expense of Foresti & Suardi and Qatar 95. Entering the last 25 minutes of the session, Jotun led from Qatar 96, with Spirit of Norway, Victory 77, Foresti & Suardi 8, Qatar 95, Negotiator, Spirit of Norway 20, Victory 7, SeveneleveN and Foresti & Suardi VM trailing in their wake.


Towards the end of the session, both Spirit of Norway and Qatar 96 bettered their original times, with Curtis and Gjelsten posting a pole-winning lap of 3m 05.43s, although Sheikh Hassan confirmed second position with a 3m 13.96s lap. Neither of the leaders took to the water in the dying minutes and Qatar 96 had achieved the objective of staying ahead of Victory 77 in the qualifying session. Foresti & Suardi managed to get inside Victory 77’s time late on, but also flipped for good measure and will have a race against time to make the race start on Saturday.


“It was a bit rougher this morning than yesterday,” admitted Doha-based Al-Sulaiti. “But that is not a problem for us. I think the Mercury engines have good acceleration and the boat performs quite well in these rougher conditions. We didn’t really push in the first practice session, but we have done some work on the hull and the engine and decided to push harder this afternoon, because I really wanted to get into the top three.”


In Thursday afternoon’s first two-hour practice session at Porto Marina, both Spirit of Norway and Qatar 96 were the pick of the field. Curtis and Gjelsten posted a fastest lap of 2m 55.64s, but Sheikh Hassan was on the pace immediately with 2m 56.71s during his four-lap stint. Negotiator ran to the third fastest time of 2m 59.46s and Qatar 95 was fourth quickest in 3m 00.46s after running for six laps. Championship leaders Victory 77 struggled in ninth with a time of 3m 10.78s.


The WPPA have revised the starting procedure for Saturday’s Egyptian Grand Prix and subsequent races. All teams will now follow the pace boat on a parade lap before falling into line under a yellow flag. When race officials are satisfied that all teams are in line, the green flag will be dropped for the race to continue. The Egyptian Grand Prix gets underway at 14.30hrs (Egyptian time) on Saturday afternoon over a total race distance of 97.36Nm, made up of a start lap, two long laps and 18 normal tours of the course.


2007 Egyptian Grand Prix – Edox Pole Postions results (unofficial):

1. Bjorn Rune Gjelsten (N)/Steve Curtis (GB)                    Spirit of Norway 10               3m 05.43s                 

2. Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani (QA)/Matteo Nicolini (I) Qatar 96               3m 13.96s                            

3. Jorn Tandberg (N)/Christian Zaborowski (N)                Jotun 90                                 3m 16.29s                 

4. Marco Pennesi (I)/Giampaolo Montavoci (I)                  Foresti & Suardi 8                3m 18.43s                             

5. Arif Said Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F)      Victory 77                               3m 23.96s                             

6. Abdullah Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Luca Nicolini (I)                  Qatar 95                                3m 26.79s

7. Bard Eker (N)/Chris Parsonage (GB)                            Negotiator 50                        3m 34.35s                 

8. Tom Barry-Cotter (AUS)/Pal Virik Nilsen (N)                Spirit of Norway 20               3m 38.96s                             

9. Talib Al-Sayed (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE)              Victory 7                                 3m 40.50s     

10. Giorgio Manuzzi (I)/Nicola Giorgi (I)                             SeveneleveN 18                    4m 45.25s                             

11. Mauro Esperto (I)/Kolbjorn Selmer (N)                        VM Foresti & Suardi 2         4m 47.79s


2007 Edox Pole Position Championship – latest positions after Egyptian Grand Prix (unofficial):

1. Bjorn Rune Gjelsten (N)/Steve Curtis (GB)                                Spirit of Norway 10               80 pts

2. Arif Said Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F)                  Victory 77                               49 pts

3. Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani (QA)/Matteo Nicolini (I) Qatar 96                           45 pts

4. Talib Al-Sayed(UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE)                           Victory 7                                 34 pts

5. Jorn Tandberg (N)/Christian Zaborowski (N)                            Jotun 90                                 31 pts

6. Abdullah Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Luca Nicolini (I)                              Qatar 95                                24 pts, etc




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: 26/10/2007

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