C1 Sheikh Hassan clinches seventh podium finish of Class One season



Dubai Grand Prix – Saturday, December 8th, 2007


For immediate release

Saturday, December 8th, 2007






Spirit of Norway claim Dubai Grand Prix win and WPPA Middle East title

Second place for Victory 77; Al-Sulaiti takes fifth position in Qatar 95


MINA SEYAHI (UAE): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian team mate Matteo Nicolini finished third overall in Saturday’s Dubai Grand Prix, the final round of the 2007 WPPA Class One World Powerboat Championship and duly clinched third overall in the series and third in the WPPA Middle East Championship.


Sheikh Hassan’s success also meant that Qatar 96 took a podium finish on seven of the eight races in the 2007 championship calendar for four second places and three third places - a testament to the consistency of the team throughout a thrilling season of Class One powerboat racing.


Bjorn Rune Gjelsten and Steve Curtis MBE clinched their fourth win of the season in Spirit of Norway to claim the runner-up spot in the WPPA World Championship and the overall WPPA Middle East Championship title. They played the long lap strategy to perfection to see off the challenge of World Champions and eventual race runners-up Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Jean-Marc Sanchez in Victory 77.


Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Luca Nicolini began the race from seventh position on the grid in Qatar 95 and eventually finished fifth overall behind Victory 7, with Foresti & Suardi bringing up the rear of the field – two laps behind – in sixth place.


“We lost our chance of taking the World and Middle East titles last weekend at the first of the Dubai races,” said Sheikh Hassan. “But we came back well today with another podium finish. Taking seven podium finishes proves that we have the consistency. It has been a very positive season. I know how close we were to being in a position to claim the world title.”


Qatar 96 lined up on the outside of Spirit of Norway and Victory 77 at the start of the all-important first sprint to the buoy. It was crucial to gain the advantage into the corner, but boats were called back to the holding area for a second attempt at the start after officials spotted an infringement.


The race eventually fired into life 15 minutes later than anticipated and Spirit of Norway managed to edge in front and held a 4.05 second lead over Victory 77 at the end of lap one, with Qatar 96, Victory 7, Qatar 95 and Jotun in close contention. Negotiator slipped from fourth on the grid to seventh, but Tom Barry-Cotter and Pal Virik Nilsen were sidelined in the second Spirit of Norway boat.


Gjelsten and Curtis edged three seconds further ahead on lap two, as Jotun passed Qatar 95 to move into fifth position. Spirit continued to edge away on the subsequent laps, but Al-Sulaiti and Nicolini hit trouble in Qatar 95 and slowed to a near stop on the second and third laps. Jotun ground to a halt on lap three, as Negotiator, Foresti & Suardi and Fainplast took the first of their two long laps on lap four. Fainplast soon joined Jotun on the list of retirements.


On lap seven Spirit lost the lead to Victory 77 by taking a long lap and the Anglo-Norwegian crew decided to take their second long lap on lap eight. They duly trailed the world champions by 31.20s as Qatar 96 moved up to second overall, although both 77 and 96 still had to run their two long laps. Negotiator, Victory 7 and Qatar 95 completed the top six, with Foresti & Suardi and SeveneleveN still running at the rear of the field.


Both Victory 77 and Qatar 96 used lap nine for their first long lap and Spirit moved back into second place, a mere 11.44s behind Al-Zafeen and Sanchez. The trio held station through lap 10, as Victory 7 and Qatar 95 moved up to fourth and fifth places at the expense of the troubled and retiring Negotiator. Qatar 96 opted to take the second long run on lap 11, although Victory 77 hung out in front and managed to extend the overall lead to 16.03s after lap 11 and to 16.39s after lap 12. Qatar 96, Victory 7, Qatar 95 and Foresti & Suardi completed the surviving top six.


Spirit reduced Victory 77’s lead to 14.03s after lap 13 and the Dubai crew were forced to take their second long lap on lap 14. This handed the lead back to Spirit of Norway and they took a 8.16s lead into the final six tours with all the long laps completed.  Spirit’s lead was up to 12.11s through lap 15 and 14.45s through 16, as Qatar 96 maintained third position and Qatar 95 trailed Victory 7 by 20 seconds in fifth place.


Four laps remained and only six boats were still running after SeveneleveN stopped on lap 11. But there was no denying Spirit of Norway a second successive victory, a fourth win of the season and the WPPA Middle East title over the closing laps and Gjelsten and Curtis eventually beat Victory 77 by 31.62s, with Qatar 96 completing the podium finishers – the result marked Sheikh Hassan’s seventh podium in eight race starts this season.


Jotun had been the quickest boat on the course in Saturday morning’s final practice session, the Norwegian crew posting a fastest lap of 2m 37.34s, closely followed by Sheikh Hassan in Qatar 96 with 2m 37.71s. Spirit of Norway ran for a solitary lap and set a time of 2m 38.06s, but Qatar 95 was fifth of the eight boats that took to the water with a lap of 2m 40.89s.


2007 DUBAI GRAND PRIX – results (unofficial)

1. Spirit of Norway 10 – B Gjelsten (N)/S Curtis (GB)                  56m 19.50s

2. Victory 77 – A Al Zafeen (UAE)/JM Sanchez (F)                      @ 31.62s  

3. Qatar 96 – H Al Thani (QA)/M Nicolini (I)                               @ 1m 16.79s

4. Victory 7 – T Al Sayed (UAE)/N B Hendi (UAE)                       @ 1m 50.51s

5. Qatar 95 – A Al Sulaiti (QAT)/L Nicolini (I)                                 @ 2m 13.15s

6. Foresti & Suardi 8 – M Pennesi (I)/G Montavoci (I)                  2 laps behind

SeveneleveN 18 – G Manuzzi (I)/N Giorgi (I)                                 DNF

Negotiator 50 – B Eker (N)/C Parsonage (GB)                            DNF

Jotun 90 – C Zaborowski (N)/J Tandberg (N)                                DNF

Fainplast 2 – K Selmer (N)/M Esperto (I)                                       DNF

Spirit of Norway 20 – T Barry-Cotter (AUS)/P Nilsen (N)             DNF


WPPA CLASS 1 MIDDLE EAST CHAMPIONSHIP – after round 4 of 4 (unofficial)

1. Spirit of Norway 10 – B Gjelsten (N)/S Curtis (GB) – 63pts    

2. Victory 77 – A Al Zafeen (UAE)/JM Sanchez (F) – 56pts    

3. Qatar 96 – H Al Thani (QA)/M Nicolini (I) – 44pts  

4. Negotiator 50 – B Eker (N)/C Parsonage (GB) – 33pts

5. Qatar 95 – A Al Sulaiti (QA)/L Nicolini (I) – 31pts 

6. Victory 7 – T Al Sayed (UAE)/N B Hendi (UAE) – 21pts 

7. Foresti & Suardi 8 – M Pennesi (I)/G Montavoci (I) – 20pts  

8. Spirit of Norway 20 – T Barry-Cotter (AUS)/P Nilsen (N) – 10pts

9. Jotun 90 – C Zaborowski (N)/J Tandberg (N) - 5pts

10. Fainplast 2 – K Selmer (N)/G Carpitella (I) – 3pts

11. SeveneleveN 18 – T Polli (I)/N Giorgi (I) – 1pts




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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: 08/12/2007

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