C1 Qatar 96 close the gap on Victory 77 with second place in Egypt
2007 WPPA CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP, round 5 of 8
2007 WPPA CLASS 1 MIDDLE EAST POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP, round 1 of 4
Egyptian Grand Prix, October 27th, 2007, Porto Marina
For immediate release
Saturday, October 27th, 2007
SHEIKH HASSAN TAKES SECOND IN EGYPT
TO CLOSE THE GAP ON VICTORY 77 RIVALS
Engine problems force Abdullah Al-Sulaiti out of potential podium finish
Strong winds and rough seas force race changes and cancellation of practice
PORTO MARINA (Egypt): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini closed the gap on the championship-leading Victory 77 by taking a fine second place in treacherous sea conditions during the Egyptian Grand Prix at Porto Marina on Saturday afternoon.
The Qatar 96 crew finished a comfortable second overall behind the Spirit of Norway pairing of Bjorn Rune Gjelsten and Steve Curtis, with arch rivals Arif SaId Al-Zafeen and Jean-Marc Sanchez in third place in Victory 77.
Spirit of Norway led from the start, but Sheikh Hassan attacked in the early stages to force a large gap between the Skema V12-engined Qatar 96 and Victory 77. The charge paid off and the leading Qatar crew were able to ease off in the appalling conditions over the closing laps to secure a superb podium finish on this fifth round of the WPPA Class 1 World Powerboat Championship.
“The conditions were similar to Friday’s,” admitted Sheikh Hassan. “We made a good start and managed to get a good lead of around 50 seconds on Victory 77. Staying ahead was the goal. It is not easy when you are hitting a wave and the boat is being thrown around at speed. Spirit had good acceleration and a good pace today, but our goal was to close the gap on Victory and now we can take the fight to Doha. We must finish well there and hope that 77 is not on the podium. It’s exciting and all to play for.”
Qatar team mates Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Luca Nicolini looked more than capable of catching and passing Victory 77 as the race progressed, but engine problems forced the Mercury V8-engined Qatar 95 out of contention on the seventh lap.
“We started very well from sixth position,” admitted a disappointed Al-Sulaiti. “Then we were up to fifth after one lap and then up to fourth. I was happy with everything. We were only half a second away from catching Victory 77 and moving up to third place. But then we jumped a little too high and caused some damage to the left-hand engine. We broke the supercharger belt and some other components inside the engine and it was all over for us by lap seven.”
Saturday morning’s final two-hour practice session was cancelled because of the continuing rough seas and strong winds off Porto Marina. The race distance was also reduced on safety grounds to 18 laps and 57.59Nm, with the start lap running for 3.53Nm and the normal laps spanning 3.18Nm each. Race officials also modified the starting procedure for a second time and boats were lined up in rows of two after first running behind the pace boat on a viewing lap.
Pole setter Spirit of Norway lined up alongside Qatar 96, with Jotun and Foresti & Suardi on row two and the championship-leading Victory 77 alongside Al-Sulaiti and Nicolini in Qatar 95 on rwo three. They were followed by the second Spirit of Norway boat and Negotiator, with Victory 7 and SeveneleveN bringing up the rear of the 1-boat race field.
The lead Foresti & Suardi boat was damaged during a flip late in the Edox Pole Position competition on Saturday afternoon and Giampaolo Montavoci duly switched boats, as permitted by the rules, and teamed up with Norwegian Kolbjorn Selmer in the second Italian race hull, with Marco Pennesi and Mauro Esperto missing out on Egyptian race action. The crew eventually finished fifth behind the fourth-placed Negotiator boat.
The next stop on the WPPA Class 1 World Powerboat Championship tour will be the Qatar Team’s home event in Doha Bay on November 15th-17th.
2007 Egyptian Grand Prix – results (unofficial):
1. Bjorn Rune Gjelsten (N)/Steve Curtis (GB) Spirit of Norway 10
2. Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani (QA)/Matteo Nicolini (I) Qatar 96
3. Arif Said Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F) Victory 77
4. Bard Eker (N)/Chris Parsonage (GB) Negotiator 50
5. Kolbjorn Selmer (N)/Giampaolo Montavoci (I) Foresti & Suardi 8
2007 WPPA Class 1 World Powerboat Championship – positions after round 5 of 8 (unofficial*):
1. Arif Said Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F) Victory 77 91 pts
2. Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani (QA)/Matteo Nicolini (I) Qatar 96 75 pts
3. Bjorn Rune Gjelsten (N)/Steve Curtis (GB) Spirit of Norway 10 69 pts
4. Talib Al-Sayed (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE) Victory 7 44 pts
5. Abdullah Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Luca Nicolini (I) Qatar 95 36 pts, etc
(*unofficial positions include Egyptian GP race but exclude engine bonus points)
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