C1 Spirit of Norway takes Pole title as Qatar 96 struggles in fifth



Class One Doha 2007, The Qatar Grand Prix, November 16th-17th, 2007


For immediate release

Friday, November 16th, 2007





Spirit of Norway confirm Pole Position and Edox Pole Championship title

Victory 7 and Jotun crews complete Pole podium in Qatar Grand Prix

Propeller problems cost Abdullah Al-Sulaiti chance to improve on sixth


DOHA (Qatar): Norway’s Bjorn Gjelsten and England’s Steve Curtis MBE won Friday’s Edox Pole Position competition in Spirit of Norway and will start Saturday’s Qatar Grand Prix in a stronger position than arch championship rivals Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Jean-Marc Sanchez in Victory 77.and His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Matteo Nicolini in Qatar 96.


The Anglo-Norwegian pairing were the first team on to the Doha Bay course in sweltering conditions and their opening lap of 2m 36.53s was enough to clinch Pole Position, a fifth successive Pole victory and the 2007 Edox Pole Position title with two rounds remaining. Four teams jostled for the next four places on the grid, but a late lap of 2m 40.06s by Victory 7 ensured that the Dubai crew will start Saturday’s race in second place.


The Norwegian Jotun crew were third and Victory 77 edged Sheikh Hassan into fifth position in the dying seconds with a lap of 2m 40.96s, a mere 0.11 seconds quicker than the President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation. Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Luca Nicolini will start in sixth place in the Mercury V8-engined Qatar 95.


Two exciting practice sessions signalled that Friday afternoon’s crucial pole competition was going to be a thriller, as three title contenders took turns to deliver the knockout lap. The actual pressure cooker of battle was nothing compared to the punishing heat and adrenalin rushing inside the cockpits, as Spirit of Norway kicked off the qualifying session by blazing a Pole-winning watery trail across Doha Bay in calm conditions and temperatures around the 35C mark.


Qatar 95, Jotun and Qatar 96 followed the defending champions into the heat of battle and, by the half-way point in the 75-minute session, Spirit led from Victory 7, Jotun and Qatar 96, with Victory 77 returning to the pits to replace a broken propeller. Sheikh Hassan moved back into third with 35 minutes of the session remaining, but a repaired Victory 77 posted a lap of 2m 41.42s to take third and edge Qatar 96 and Jotun down the standings.


With 13 minutes of the session to run, Jotun posted a flying lap of 2m 40.43s to retake second place, but Qatar 96 was back on the water minutes later to retake fourth in a time of 2m 41.07s. As the clock ticked down, both Victory boats returned to the water for one last assault at Spirit of Norway’s time. Victory 7 posted 2m 40.06s to leap into second position and Victory 77 slipped past Qatar 96 and into fourth place in the dying seconds.


“It is obviously going to be a very close race with four boats on the same second this morning and the session being so close this afternoon,” said a disappointed Sheikh Hassan. “I was speaking to Jean-Marc Sanchez after practice and we were both talking about the impressive performance of the Jotun boat. It is definitely the best V8 out there at the moment. They must have worked hard on development.


“We feel we have a good set-up now. We used practice to experiment with a racing line through the start. When you run your ‘hot lap’ it’s important to be as competitive as possible. We will start from fifth place so the beginning of the race takes on a new importance now.”


Team mate Al-Sulaiti suffered a propeller failure and was unable to complete a fourth qualifying lap. “I’m not happy with my position, but we could not change the propeller again and had to settle for sixth. Tomorrow is another day.”


After the excitement of Thursday’s first free practice session, teams were permitted another 90 minutes on the water in calm and humid conditions on Friday morning. Spirit of Norway experimented with a wide racing line through the start and posted an unbeatable 2m 39.51s, but it was a close run thing with Victory 7 in second (2m 41.25s), the improving Jotun in third with 2m 41.40s and Qatar 96 in fourth place with a best time of 2m 42.03s, a mere 0.12 seconds quicker than Victory 77. Qatar 95 completed the top six, but Negotiator’s progress was halted by fuel feed problems. All 10 boats used the session for testing.


Tomorrow (Saturday) is the crucial Qatar Grand Prix, but the day’s action begins at 09.30hrs, when teams will be permitted to take part in a final one-hour practice session on the course.


This will be followed, at 11.30hrs, by a local pleasure boat race organised by the Qatar Marine Sports Federation. Class One race boats will be presented in a VIP area in the wet pits from 13.30hrs, before the all-important Qatar Grand Prix roars into life at 14.30hrs over 20 laps and a total race distance of 92.71Nm in Doha Bay.


Qatar Grand Prix Edox Pole Position results – (unofficial)
1. Spirit of Norway 10 – Bjorn Gjelsten (N)/Steve Curtis (GB)                 2m 36.53s
2. Victory 7 – Talib Al Sayed (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE)             

2m 40.06s
3. Jotun 90 – Christian Zaborowski (N)/Jorn Tandberg (N)                      2m 40.43s

4. Victory 77 – Arif Saif Al Zafeen(UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F)           2m 40.96s

5. Qatar 96 – Hassan Al Thani (QA)/Matteo Nicolini (I)                         2m 41.07s
6. Qatar 95 – Abdullah Al Sulaiti (QA)/Luca Nicolini(I)                         2m 48.04s
7. Negotiator 50 – Bard Eker (N)/Chris Parsonage (GB)                            2m 50.35s
8. Spirit of Norway 20 – Tom Barry-Cotter (AUS)/Pal Virik Nilsen (N)       2m 51.35s
9. Foresti & Suardi 8 – Kolbjorn Selmer (N)/Giampaolo Montavoci (I)     3m 02.25s

10. SeveneleveN 18 – Tomaso Polli (I)/Nicola Giorgi (I)                             3m 15.76s

1. Spirit of Norway 10 – Bjorn Gjelsten (N)/Steve Curtis (GB)                    100pts*
2. Victory 77 – Arif Al Zafeen(UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F)                      58pts
3. Qatar 96 – Hassan Al Thani (Q)/Matteo Nicolini (I)                             52pts
4. Victory 7 – Talib Al Sayed (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE)                       49pts
5. Jotun 90 – Christian Zaborowski (N)/Jorn Tandberg (N)                         43pts
6. Qatar 95 – Abdullah Al Sulaiti (QA)/Luca Nicolini (I)                         29pts
7. Foresti & Suardi 8 – Marco Pennesi (I)/Giampaolo Montavoci (I)         20pts
8. Spirit of Norway 20 – Tom Barry-Cotter (AUS)/Pal Virik Nilsen (N)       18pts
9. Negotiator 50 – Bard Eker (N)/Chris Parsonage (GB)                            12pts
10. SeveneleveN 18 – Tomaso Polli (I)/Nicola Giorgi (I)                               6pts
11. Fainplast 2 – Kolbjorn Selmer (N)/Mario Esperto (I)                              2pts

* denotes 2007 Edox Pole Position champions






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Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com. www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases).







Date issued: 16/11/2007

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