C1 Qatar 96 takes sensational second position in Qatar Grand Prix
2008 CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
Qatar Grand Prix, round 1 – March 1st
For immediate release
Saturday, March 1st, 2008
QATAR TEAM TAKES SECOND AND FOURTH PLACES IN QATAR GRAND PRIX
Al-Zafeen and Bin Hendi win Qatar Grand Prix in Victory 1
Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis recover superbly from Friday’s crash
DOHA (Qatar): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and British throttleman Steve Curtis MBE managed to switch race boats in time to take a sensational second position in Saturday’s Qatar Grand Prix, round one of the 2008 Class 1 World Powerboat Championship, following their dramatic crash in qualifying on Friday.
The UAE’s reigning World Champion Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and team mate Nadir Bin Hendi clinched a start-to-finish win in Victory 1, but Qatar’s Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Matteo Nicolini were an excellent second overall in Qatar 95 until engine problems pushed them down to an eventual fourth place. The excellent result capped a weekend of high drama for the Qatar Team.
“After the dramas we had on Friday, this was a fantastic result for the entire team,” said Sheikh Hassan. “I never in my wildest dreams expected to finish on the podium in this boat, never mind in second position. When we managed to pass Negotiator into fourth that was a bonus and then Jotun stopped and Qatar 95 had a problem with an engine and we were second.
“This boat is, maybe, 10-12 mph slower than our normal boat, but we managed to get into a good rhythm later on and began to set some 1m 40s range lap times. We’ve only given five points away now to Victory at the start of the season and I am confident that we will have our boat back up to full speed in time for the race in Budva in May.”
Class 1 newcomer Abdullah Al-Mehairbi and French throttleman Jean-Marc Sanchez finished third overall in Victory 7 and the Norwegian/Italian crew of Kolbjorn Selmer and Giampaolo Montevoci were fifth in Foresti & Suardi.
After his spectacular crash on Friday afternoon, Sheikh Hassan’s team worked late to ensure that Mohammed Al-Nasser’s White 4 hull was prepared to be used as Qatar 96. The accident also meant that Al-Nasser was deprived of his first Class 1 race start, as team mechanics readied White 4, although the team decided to persevere with the Mercury V8 engines rather than Sheikh Hassan’s usual Skema V12 set-up.
“Maybe we will not have quite the pace of our normal set-up, but we must concentrate on the race now and try and take a good result,” insisted an upbeat Sheikh Hassan before the start.
Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Matteo Nicolini set the fastest time in the final practice session on Saturday morning with a 2m 42.23s lap in Qatar 95 and Sheikh Hassan managed a best lap of 2m 50.39s, but all eyes were on the starting flag and the fascinating contest that was sure to develop between the UAE’s Victory Team and the host Qatar Team in Doha Bay.
World champion Al-Zafeen had the advantage of Pole Position and the supposed best line into the all-important first corner. Indeed, Victory 1 held the line and edged into a four-second lead over Jotun at the end of the opening lap, with Qatar 95, Negotiator and Qatar 96 following in their wake. Al-Sulaiti and Nicolini managed to pass the Norwegian crew on lap two, but Al-Zafeen extended his lead to seven seconds.
The advantage was over nine seconds on lap four, where both Negotiator and Victory 7 took their first long laps and Qatar 96 edged into fourth place behind Victory 1, Qatar 95 and Jotun. Al-Zafeen edged a further second ahead on lap five, although the leading quartet held station and Chris Parsonage took his second compulsory long lap and duly slipped to sixth behind Victory 7, but the Briton stayed ahead of Foresti & Suardi and SevenEleven.
Victory 1’s lead was 12.31 seconds after lap eight, where Sheikh Hassan took his first long lap and Al-Sulaiti followed his Qatar team mate, alongside Jotun, on lap nine. The UAE team was happy to stay out in front and take the two long laps near the end of the allotted time and Al-Zafeen led by 32.74 seconds after lap nine. Indeed, Victory 1 headed off for a first long lap on the 10th tour and Al-Sulaiti pegged the lead back to 18.21 seconds. Qatar 96 also took their second long lap, but managed to stay well ahead of both Negotiator and Victory 7.
Jotun headed for a second long lap on lap 12, but Sheikh Hassan snatched third place when the Norwegian boat dramatically ground to a halt. Both Victory 1 and Qatar 95 completed their long laps on the 13th tour and a fascinating sprint to the finish was in prospect, with Victory 1 maintaining a 24.18s lead over Qatar 95, with Sheikh Hassan over a minute behind. Qatar 96 clawed three seconds back on lap 14, but Qatar 95 sensationally slowed on lap 15 with engine problems and Sheikh Hassan found himself up in second position.
Al-Sulaiti managed to keep going, but Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis were in sensational form and were taking chunks of time out of Victory 1’s lead. The margin was down to 44 seconds after lap 16 and 42.47 seconds after the 17th lap, but there were not enough time remaining for Qatar 96 to mount a serious challenge.
Victory 1 held on over the closing three tours to take a convincing win, but it had been a superb confidence-boosting fight back by Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis over the final few laps. There was late drama for Negotiator, which hit trouble on the 17th lap and slipped behind Victory 7 and Qatar 95 and then further behind SevenEleven and Foresti & Suardi.
2008 Qatar Grand Prix – results (unofficial):
1. Arif Saif Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE) Victory 1 56m 01.56s
2. Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani (QA)/Steve Curtis (GB) Qatar 96 @ 26.86s
3. Abdullah Al-Mehairbi (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F) Victory 7 @ 2m 32.59s
4. Abdullah Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Matteo Nicolini (I) Qatar 95 1 lap behind
5. Kolbjorn Selmer (N)/Giampaolo Montevoci (I) Foresti & Suardi 8 2 laps behind
6. Giorgio Manuzzi (I)/Nicola Giorgi (I) SevenEleven 18 3 laps behind
7. Bard Eker (N)/Chris Parsonage (GB) Negotiator 50 4 laps behind
8. Bjorge Jacobsen (N)/Jorn Tandberg (N) Jotun 90 9 laps behind
2008 Class 1 World Powerboat Championship - positions after round 1:
1. Arif Saif Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE) Victory 1 20 pts
2. Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani (QA)/Steve Curtis (GB) Qatar 96 15 pts
3. Abdullah Al-Mehairbi (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F) Victory 7 12 pts
4. Abdullah Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Matteo Nicolini (I) Qatar 95 9 pts
5. Kolbjorn Selmer (N)/Giampaolo Montevoci (I) Foresti & Suardi 8 7 pts
6. Giorgio Manuzzi (I)/Nicola Giorgi (I) SevenEleven 18 5 pts
7. Bard Eker (N)/Chris Parsonage (GB) Negotiator 50 4 pts, etc
For further information:
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: email@example.com. www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases).