C1 Sheikh Hassan slips to sixth place in Montenegro
2008 CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
Montenegrin Grand Prix, round 2 of 9 - May 25th, 2008
For immediate release
Sunday, May 25th, 2008
MECHANICAL DELAYS PUSH SHEIKH HASSAN
DOWN TO SIXTH POSITION IN MONTENEGRO
Qatar's Al-Sulaiti and Nicolini finish in third place
Budva victory for Al-Marri and Bin Hendi in Victory 1
BUDVA (Montenegro): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and British throttleman Steve Curtis MBE finished sixth overall in the Hypo Group Montenegrin Grand Prix in Budva on Sunday. Qatar team mates Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Matteo Nicolini began the race from fourth position on the grid and managed to bring Qatar 95 home in third overall after a disappointing weekend for the Qatar Team.
The race was won by Mohammed Al-Marri and Nadir Bin Hendi in Victory 1 and the Dubai-based crew duly extended their World Championship lead with a second successive win for the boat. Their team mates Abdullah Al-Mehairbi and Jean-Marc Sanchez were second overall in Victory 7.
Sheikh Hassan began the race from the fourth Pole Position of his Class 1 career and it was crucial that he and Curtis made it through the first turn ahead of Al-Marri and Bin Hendi in Victory 1. But it was not the start that the Qatar Team had required and by the second lap Sheikh Hassan trailed in third position behind Al-Marri and Bin Hendi and Al-Mehairbi and Sanchez. Bjorge Jacobsen and Jorn Tandberg were fourth in Jotun and Al-Sulaiti and Nicolini were fifth in Qatar 95. Giorgio Manuzzi and Nicola Giorgi failed to make the start of the race in SevenEleven.
Victory 1 maintained the initiative through the eighth lap, as Qatar 96 and Qatar 95 pulled up to second and third positions, when Victory 7 opted to take an early long lap. The Dubai-based crew managed to maintain the overall lead through lap 13, as Sheikh Hassan shadowed the Victory boat in second place. Qatar 95 held third, preparing for a second and final long lap, ahead of Victory 7 and Jotun.
The returning Al-Marri was making the most of his chance to replace the injured Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and maintained the lead through lap 17, although Sheikh Hassan was keeping his title challenge firmly alive with second position. Victory 7 retook third from Qatar 95, with Jotun running in fifth place heading into the final six laps.
Victory 1 maintained the lead through lap 21, but mechanical problems cost Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis critical time and they slipped behind Victory 7 and Qatar 95 and began to slow still further. A team spokesman was unsure whether it was an engine problem or a broken propeller, but Qatar 96 would be forced to complete the remaining two laps in slow motion, with Jotun breathing down their necks.
Al-Sulaiti also hit trouble in the dying minutes, as Victory 1 and Victory 7 clung on to take first and second positions and both the Qatar boats struggled to the finish with Jotun passing Sheikh Hassan and Qatar 96 late on.
Al-Sulaiti and Nicolini had set the pace in Sunday morning's final practice session, with a potent opening lap of 2m 21.79s in Qatar 95. Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis were their closest rivals in 2m 24.79s, with Jotun down in third place.
"I was a little disappointed to line-up fourth for the race today," admitted Al-Sulaiti. "I think the mistake we made on Saturday was changing the set-up for our final two laps of qualifying, rather than staying with the same set-up and just trying harder to improve our lap times. The race to the first buoy was always going to be crucial for us today, because the course is very tight and we didn't want the same situation as we had in Doha, with five or six boats trying to take a good line into the turn. This morning we ran a 2m 21s lap with a full fuel load, so we showed what we are capable of."
2008 Hypo Group Montenegrin Grand Prix - race results (unofficial):
1. Mohammed Al-Marri (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE) Victory 1
2. Abdullah Al-Mehairbi (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F) Victory 7
3. Abdullah Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Matteo Nicolini (I) Qatar 95
4. Bjorge Jacobsen (N)/Jorn Tandberg (N) Jotun 90
5. Kolbjorn Selmer (N)/Giampaolo Montevoci (I) Foresti & Suardi 8
6. Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani (QA)/Steve Curtis (GB) Qatar 96
7. Domenico Cirilli (E)/Sergio Mora Carrasco (E) Roscioli Hotels 88
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