|Second And Third Places For Qatar Team In Second Abu Dhabi Grand Prix|
|Saturday, 16 April 2011 04:31|
ABU DHABI (UAE): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and British throttleman Steve Curtis and Qatar’s Class 1 rookie Ali Al-Neama and Italian Matteo Nicolini finished in a superb second and third overall in the second race of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the opening round of the UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship on Friday.
Sheikh Hassan led in the early stages of the race and showed that he has lost none of his touch after 21 months away from the spotlight and pressures of Class 1 racing. He shadowed the Victory 3 crew of Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Nadir Bin Hendi to the finish of the 12-lap race and maintained second in the championship.
“It was a good result for us but we led for four laps,” said Sheikh Hassan, president of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) and driver of Spirit of Qatar 96.
“This course was not really meant for us. We knew that. We knew that if we did not have another boat between us and Victory we would struggle on this tight course and that proved to be true when we made the long lap. They timed it right. We can do miracles in the rough water and on the fast courses, but that was not going to be possible today. Norway should suit us much better and we are looking forward to that.
“It was a good start for Ali. He had a podium yesterday at the Pole Position and another podium here today.”
Al-Neama enjoyed a successful first weekend in Class 1 racing with Nicolini and was rewarded with third position and a podium finish at his first ever Class 1 race meeting.
Sheikh Hassan was more confident of achieving a better result in the second race and lined up behind Victory 3 at the start, with Ali Al-Neama slotting into fifth position behind Luca Fendi and the Team Abu Dhabi boat of Rashed Al-Tayer and John Tomlinson.
The original race was red flagged by race officials for a technical reason and teams were forced to reassemble for a restart. The race distance was duly reduced to 12 laps.
Spirit of Qatar 96 moved into the lead from the restart, with Victory 3 slotting into Sheikh Hassan’s slipstream. The Qatar Team boat completed lap one with a 3.82s advantage. Al-Neama and Nicolini managed to pass Team Abu Dhabi and move into fourth place behind Fendi Racing.
Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis maintained a 3.16s lead through lap two and Al-Neama was able to stay in fourth place, despite taking a long lap with Team Abu Dhabi. Spirit of Qatar 96’s lead was reduced to 3.02s after lap three, but Sheikh Hassan was benefiting from clearer water – the long lap strategy would be crucial.
Al-Zafeen and Bin Hendi opted to run a long lap on lap four and Sheikh Hassan’s lead rose to 17.48s. It was crucial that the Qatar Team got the strategy right. Spirit of Qatar 95 also ran a long lap and retained fourth position and a comfortable lead over Team Abu Dhabi in fifth.
Sheikh Hassan and Fendi Racing used lap five for their first long laps and the decision paid dividends for the Qatar Team principal. He began lap six with a 5.89s lead over Victory 3 and the race headed into a thrilling showdown over the subsequent six tours of the Abu Dhabi course off Lulu Island.
Spirit of Qatar 95 managed to sneak into third position at the expense of Luca Fendi and two Qatar boats began lap six in the top three. But Sheikh Hassan took a long lap on lap six and lost the overall lead to Victory 3. Al-Zafeen and Bin Hendi still needed to run a long lap and they opted to do so on lap seven.
This was the most crucial point of the entire race but the Emirati crew managed to hold on to the lead and headed into lap eight with a 17.66s advantage over Spirit of Qatar 96, with Spirit of Qatar 95 and Team Abu Dhabi completing the Middle Eastern domination of the top four.
Victory 3 began to edge slowly away and Sheikh Hassan trailed by 21s heading into lap nine. There was no point in taking risks over the closing laps and the Qatar Team were content to conserve a second second position of the weekend on their return to Class 1 racing after a 21-month absence.
Al-Neama and Nicolini held on to seal third place and give the Qatar Team two places on the podium at the first race meeting of the new season.
Spirit of Qatar 96 ran for two laps in the third and final practice session on Friday morning and recorded a best time of 3m 05.64s, but this was eclipsed by Al-Neama’s single lap of 3m 04.46s. Victory 3 also ran for one lap and managed to break the three-minute barrier.
The Class 1 entourage will now enjoy a three-month break before action resumes with the Norwegian Grand Prix at Arendal in July.
ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX, RACE 2 – results
1. 3 Victory Team - A Al Zafeen (UAE) / N Bin Hendi (UAE) 00.37.57,89
2. 96 Spirit of Qatar - H Al Thani (QAT) / S Curtis (ENG) + 00.43,48
3. 95 Spirit of Qatar - A Al Neama (QAT) / M Nicolini (ITA) + 00.50,89
4. 5 Team Abu Dhabi - R Al Tayer (UAE) / J Tomlinson (USA) + 01.05,07
5. 10 Fendi Racing - L Formilli Fendi (ITA) / G Carpitella (ITA) + 01.37,89
6. 74 Poliform - G Cappellini (MON) / G Montavoci (ITA) + 02.34,73
7. 50 Parsonage Racing - G Manuzzi (SMR) / P Virik Nilsen (NOR) + 1 lap
8. 90 Welmax - K Selmer (NOR) / J Tandberg (NOR) + 1 lap
9. 91 Relekta - U Isik (TUR) / C Zaborowski (NOR) + 1 lap
10. 18 MITI - N Giorgi (ITA) / T Polli (ITA) + 3 laps
UIM CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP - after race 2
1. 3 Victory Team - 40pts 2. 96 Spirit of Qatar - 30pts 3= 10 Fendi Racing - 19pts 3= 95 Spirit of Qatar - 19pts 5. 5 Team Abu Dhabi - 18pts. 74 Poliform - 10pts 7. 50 Parsonage Racing - 8pts 8. 18 MITI - 4pts 9. 90 Welmax - 3pts 10. 91 Relekta - 2pts
MIDDLE EAST CHAMPIONSHIP - after race 2
1. 3 Victory Team - 40pts 2. 96 Spirit of Qatar - 30pts 3= 10 Fendi Racing - 19pts 3= 95 Spirit of Qatar - 19pts 5. 5 Team Abu Dhabi - 18pts 6. 74 Poliform - 10pts 7. 50 Parsonage Racing - 8pts 8. 18 MITI - 4pts 9. 90 Welmax - 3pts 10. 91 Relekta - 2pts
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