C1 Mechanical woes ruin Qatar 96 dream in Mina Seyahi



Mina Seyahi Grand Prix – Saturday, December 1st, 2007


For immediate release

Saturday, December 1st, 2007






Spirit of Norway takes GP win; WPPA world title falls to Victory 77

Qatar 95’s Abdullah Al-Sulaiti clinches second place in UAE


MINA SEYAHI (UAE): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian team mate Matteo Nicolini will have to wait until next season to challenge for the WPPA Class 1 World Powerboat Championship, after engine and propeller problems dropped them to a disappointing ninth overall in Saturday’s crucial Mina Seyahi Grand Prix, off the coast of the UAE.


A penalty lap for a jump start did not stop the Victory 77 crew of Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Jean-Marc Sanchez finishing fourth and clinching the WPPA Class 1 world title, although Bjorn Rune Gjelsten and Steve Curtis MBE romped home to take the Grand Prix win, followed by a delighted Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Luca Nicolini in Qatar 95.


Chris Parsonage and Bard Eker completed the podium places in Negotiator and the result sets up the possibility of a fascinating four-way showdown for the WPPA Class 1 Middle East Championship on the final round in the UAE next weekend.


“We have been consistent all season with four second places and two third places and for this to happen on the most important race of the year is very disappointing,” said Sheikh Hassan. “We have come so close to the world title, but we must look at the positives and realise that we were only one good result away from our ultimate goal. It was a good weekend for Abdullah though and second place for Qatar 95 is great news for the team.”


“I have mixed emotions,” said Al-Sulaiti. “I am delighted to finish second, but I feel sorry for Sheikh Hassan and Qatar 96 that they had propeller and engine problems. It was a dirty start, a bad start by two boats, in particular, and they were rightly penalised. They pushed everyone to the right and made it difficult. The result was about a good long lap strategy and being careful. It was not easy today. We are getting better all the time. Now we must push hard next week to see where we can finish in the Middle East Championship.”


Sheikh Hassan lined up at the start of the race in fourth position on the grid, on the outside of his team mates in Qatar 95, the Jotun crew and Spirit of Norway, but on the racing side of his arch rivals in Victory 77. The start and the first turns were crucial in determining the way the race progressed.


The Qatar Team could not have imagined a worse start and Victory 77 were the first crew through the opening lap and had moved into a 7.55s lead over Negotiator, Spirit of Norway, Victory 7 and the Qatar 96 and 95 duo. The Dubai crew extended their lead to 10.95s through the second tour, although Gjelsten and Curtis managed to pass Negotiator and move into second place and Sheikh Hassan and Abdullah Al-Sulaiti slipped into fourth and fifth positions. Spirit began to gnaw away at 77’s lead, as Sheikh Hassan was unable to pass Negotiator and make headway into the leaders’ advantage.


Spirit of Norway took their first long lap on lap five and Victory 77 duly moved 15.86s ahead, as Spirit slotted back into fourth behind Negotiator and Qatar 96. Spirit took the second of their long laps on lap six, as 77 continued to lead from Negotiator, Qatar 96, Spirit and Jotun. It was a brave strategy by the Anglo-Norwegian pairing to leave the fight back to the closing laps.


Sheikh Hassan opted to take his first long lap on lap seven, as 77’s lead was reduced to 12.86s by Negotiator, with Qatar 95 now into third. The two-lap strategies were going to be crucial in determining the eventually outcome of a thrilling race and both 77 and Negotiator decided to take a long lap on the eighth tour, which handed a slender 3.37s overall lead to Qatar 95. Victory 77 was now running in dirty water behind Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and the next lap would be critical. Jotun left the fray on the seventh tour.


Sheikh Hassan duly opted to take his second long tour on lap nine to leave the final 12 laps of the course down to the speed and determination of the drivers. It was building into a thrilling finale, with 77 losing time behind leaders 95 at the top of the leader board after lap nine and coming under pressure from third-placed Spirit of Norway.


Al-Sulaiti eventually used lap 10 for his first long lap and Victory 77 opted to take their second long run on the same tour to hand the initiative back to Spirit of Norway. Spirit now had a 15.83s advantage over Qatar 95 with Victory 77 in third, although the Dubai crew and team mates Victory 7 were penalized with a penalty lap for jumping the all-important start.


By lap 12, Spirit had eked out a 15.25s advantage over Qatar 95, which still had to run a second long lap. Victory 77 were encased in third place heading into the final eight laps, although Qatar 96 slowed markedly and slipped to fifth position at the end of lap 12 with engine trouble. Al-Sulaiti closed the gap to within 10.35s at the end of lap 13, but Sheikh Hassan slipped further behind the leaders as the world title dream faded on unlucky lap 13.


Al-Sulaiti completed his second long lap on lap 14 and began the final six tours 35.2s behind Spirit of Norway, with Negotiator, the penalized Victory 77, Spirit of Norway 20, Victory 7 and Foresti & Suardi in pursuit. Qatar 96’s engine woes had forced Sheikh Hassan down into eighth place.


Al-Sulaiti reduced Spirit’s lead to 27.33s through lap 15 and to 24.98s after lap 16, but the world title looked to be heading to Victory 77 with four laps remaining. The difference was down to 20.36s after lap 17 and 16.04s after lap 18, although Sheikh Hassan was struggling round the circuit in eighth place, three laps behind the leaders.


Spirit extended the advantage slightly on the 19th lap and duly took the chequered flag to record a fine win in the UAE, with Al-Sulaiti taking a superb second place, a mere 8.26s behind the winners, to move up to fourth in the world championship and Negotiator completing the podium.


Eight boats had taken to the water for Saturday morning’s final practice session and Spirit of Norway set the fastest time with a potent 2m 46.14s lap, although Qatar 95 and Qatar 96 ran the Anglo-Norwegian crew close with fastest laps of 2m 50.12s and 2m 50.28s. The Victory 77 crew were down in fifth with a lap of 2m 52.50s.


Mina Seyahi Grand Prix results
1. Spirit of Norway 10 – Bjorn Gjelsten (N)/Steve Curtis (GB)                 1h 00m 17.95s                     
2. Qatar 95 – Abdullah Al Sulaiti (QA)/Luca Nicolini (I)                                  @ 8.26s        
3. Negotiator 50 – Bard Eker (N)/Chris Parsonage (GB)                                    @ 34.86s                  
4. Victory 77 – Arif Al Zafeen(UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F)                              @ 1m 38.78s            
5. Victory 7 – Talib Al Sayed (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE)                               @ 2m 17.56s                        
6. Spirit of Norway 20 – Tom Barry-Cotter (AUS)/Pal Virik Nilsen (N)   1 lap behind  
7. Foresti & Suardi 8 – Marco Pennesi (I)/Giampaolo Montavoci (I)                  1 lap behind
8. Fainplast 2 – Kolbjorn Selmer (N)/Giovanni Carpitella (I)                                3 laps behind

9. Qatar 96 – Hassan Al Thani (Q)/Matteo Nicolini (I)                                     4 laps behind                                  
10. SeveneleveN 18 – Tomaso Polli (I)/Nicola Giorgi (I)                                4 laps behind                        
Jotun 90 – Christian Zaborowski (N)/Jorn Tandberg (N)                                DNF               

WPPA CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP – after round 7 of 8 (unofficial)
1. Victory 77 – Arif Al Zafeen(UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F)                              125pts
2. Qatar 96 – Hassan Al Thani (Q)/Matteo Nicolini (I)                                     96pts
3. Spirit of Norway 10 – Bjorn Gjelsten (N)/Steve Curtis (GB)                             96pts   
4. Qatar 95 – Abdullah Al Sulaiti (QA)/Luca Nicolini (I)                                  64pts
4. Victory 7 – Talib Al Sayed (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE)                               60pts
6. Negotiator 50 – Bard Eker (N)/Chris Parsonage (GB)                                    49pts, etc

1. Spirit of Norway 10 – Bjorn Gjelsten (N)/Steve Curtis (GB)                            43pts
2. Victory 77 – Arif Al Zafeen(UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F)                              41pts
3. Negotiator 50 – Bard Eker (N)/Chris Parsonage (GB)                                    33pts

4. Qatar 96 – Hassan Al Thani (Q)/Matteo Nicolini (I)                                     32pts
5. Qatar 95 – Abdullah Al Sulaiti (QA)/Luca Nicolini (I)                                  24pts, 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: 01/12/2007

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