C1 Sheikh Hassan takes third place in thrilling Dubai Pole Position competition



Dubai Grand Prix – Friday, December 7th-Saturday, December 8th, 2007


For immediate release

Friday, December 7th, 2007






Spirit of Norway seal record-breaking seventh successive Pole Position

Victory 77 pip Qatar to second place with last-gasp ‘hot-lap’


MINA SEYAHI (UAE): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian team mate Matteo Nicolini finished in third position in the final Edox Pole Position qualifying session of the 2007 WPPA Class 1 World Powerboat Championship season and will start Saturday’s Dubai Grand Prix well placed to clinch their first Grand Prix win of the year.


Qatar 95 team mates Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Luca Nicolini set the seventh fastest time in the Mercury V8-engined hull, but Pole Position for a record-breaking seventh successive occasion fell to Bjorn Rune Gjelsten and Steve Curtis MBE in Spirit of Norway. They finished the season by taking Pole in each of the seven races where there was a Pole competition – Pole timing was cancelled in Greece at the start of the season –and claimed a maximum haul of 140 Pole championship points.  Less than two seconds separated third and sixth places on the grid in another fiercely-competitive Pole competition.


Spirit had the better of the early exchanges and held provisional Pole after 15 minutes of the session with a potent lap of 2m 31.84s. Victory 77 was second in 2m 33.96s and Sheikh Hassan posted the third fastest lap of 2m 35.62s. Christian Zaborowski and Jorn Tandberg were fourth in Jotun with a time of 2m 35.92s and Al-Sulaiti was fifth in Qatar 95, albeit a mere 0.48s behind the V8-engined Norwegian boat.


Sheikh Hassan needed to finish ahead of Victory 77 to claim the runner-up spot in the Edox Pole Position Championship. A mere two points separated the pair heading into the final minutes of the qualifying session but Chris Parsonage and Bard Eker had other ideas and shot into second place with a lap of 2m 33.56s to drop Victory 77 to third and Qatar 96 to fourth, despite Sheikh Hassan setting an improved time of 2m 34.31s. Al-Sulaiti also improved with a time of 2m 35.32s to move back up to fifth place at the expense of Jotun.


But Victory 77 upset the applecart on their third run with a Pole-equalling time of 2m 31.84s to tie Spirit of Norway, as Parsonage and Eker also improved in Negotiator to consolidate third place with 2m 32.10s. A thrilling final few minutes were in prospect. Qatar 96 still had two laps to run and managed to set a superb lap of 2m 31.96s to leap in front of Negotiator and regain third place. The crew were a mere 0.12 seconds off Pole Position, but they made amends on the final lap with a sensational run of 2m 31.51s to take provisional pole in the dying minutes.


Only Spirit of Norway and Victory 77 could now deprive Sheikh Hassan of Pole Position in the final few minutes as the tension mounted at Mina Seyahi. But Spirit were not to be denied their chance of making history and Gjelsten and Curtis set a stunning time of 2m 27.98s to ensure they kept the 100% record intact. Only Victory 77 could now deprive Qatar 96 of second position in the Pole championship and the Dubai-based crew of Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Jean-Marc Sanchez duly recorded a time of 2m 29.89s to move back into second place after one of the most exciting Pole competitions on record.


“It was quite exciting out there,” admitted Sheikh Hassan. “Everyone was beating everyone’s times at the end. There are six boats now that are very competitive and within seconds of each other. I am quite happy with our performance. We had a good set-up for Pole and have a good position to start the race. Now we will get our race set-up ready and look forward for tomorrow.”


Sheikh Hassan and Matteo Nicolini were fastest in Thursday’s first free practice session, the Qatar 96 crew posting a solitary lap of 2m 37.34s. Spirit of Norway ran for two laps and set a best time of 2m 37.65s, with Qatar 95 running for four laps to set the third quickest time of 2m 38.26s. Victory 77 was seventh of the nine boats that used the session with a lap of 2m 45.12s.


Spirit topped the times in Friday morning’s practice session, Gjelsten and Curtis posting a lap of 2m 34.98s – the fastest of the weekend so far – with Victory 77 0.36s adrift and Qatar 96 in third place with a lap of 2m 37.04s. Al-Sulaiti was down in sixth with 2m 38.81s in Qatar 95.


“We didn’t push too hard in the practice sessions,” admitted Sheikh Hassan. “We were very close to the times of Spirit and Victory 77, so it was a matter of pushing hard in the Pole Position and making sure that we got a good starting position. On this course it is especially important to get a good start, because the first boat to the turn has the big advantage of being the first to run inside in the calmer water where it is difficult to overtake.”


Teams will be permitted a third practice session on the Mina Seyahi course from 10.00am on Saturday morning (December 8th) and the 92.37Nm, 20-lap Dubai Grand Prix will get underway at 2.30pm (1.30pm Doha time).



1. Spirit of Norway 10 – B Gjelsten (N)/S Curtis (GB)                  2m 27.98s

2. Victory 77 – A Al Zafeen (UAE)/JM Sanchez (F)                      2m 29.89s  

3. Qatar 96 – H Al Thani (QA)/M Nicolini (I)                               2m 31.51s

4. Negotiator 50 – B Eker (N)/C Parsonage (GB)                        2m 32.10s

5. Jotun 90 – C Zaborowski (N)/J Tandberg (N)                           2m 32.48s

6. Victory 7 – T Al Sayed (UAE)/N B Hendi (UAE)                       2m 33.14s

7. Qatar 95 – A Al Sulaiti (QAT)/L Nicolini (I)                                 2m 35.32s

8. Spirit of Norway 20 – T Barry-Cotter (AUS)/P Nilsen (N)         2m 42.17s

9. Foresti & Suardi 8 – M Pennesi (I)/G Montavoci (I)                  2m 46.12s

10. Fainplast 2 – K Selmer (N)/M Esperto (I)                                2m 55.06s

11. SeveneleveN 18 – G Manuzzi (I)/N Giorgi (I)                           3m 10.06s


2007 EDOX POLE POSITION CHAMPIONSHIP – after round 7 of 7 (unofficial)
1. Spirit of Norway 10 – Bjorn Gjelsten (N)/Steve Curtis (GB)                          140pts*          
2. Victory 77 – Arif Al Zafeen(UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F)                              78pts                        
3. Qatar 96 – Hassan Al Thani (Q)/Matteo Nicolini (I)                                     73pts                                     
4. Jotun 90 – Christian Zaborowski (N)/Jorn Tandberg (N)                                 65pts                                     
5. Victory 7 – Talib Al Sayed (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE)                               58pts                         
6. Qatar 95 – Abdullah Al Sulaiti (QA)/Luca Nicolini (I)                                  45pts             

7. Negotiator 50 – Bard Eker (N)/Chris Parsonage (GB)                                    28pts             

8. Spirit of Norway 20 – Tom Barry-Cotter (AUS)/Pal Virik Nilsen (N)               24pts             

9. Foresti & Suardi 8 – Marco Pennesi (I)/Giampaolo Montavoci (I)                  22pts             

10. SeveneleveN 18 – Tomaso Polli (I)/Nicolo Giorgi (I)                                      7pts

11. Fainplast 2 – Kolbjorn Selmer (N)/Mario Esperto (I)                                       5pts                

* 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: 07/12/2007

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