|Spirit Of Qatar Crews Finish Third And Fourth In Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix|
|Tuesday, 01 November 2011 01:57|
CERNOBBIO (Italy): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and British throttleman Steve Curtis MBE were unable to prevent the UAE’s Arif Al-Zafeen and Nadir bin Hendi from clinching the 2011 UIM Class 1 European Powerboat Championship title at the Italian Grand Prix on Lake Como on Sunday.
The Spirit of Qatar 96 crew eventually finished a troubled race in fourth position, as Victory 3 led from start-to-finish to secure the title. Spirit of Qatar 95’s Ali Al-Neama and Matteo Nicolini finished the 16-lap Grand Prix in third overall behind the Italian duo of Guido Cappellini and Giampaolo Montavoci in Poliform. The outcome was a disappointing end to the weekend’s racing for the Qatar Marine Sports Federation-backed team.
Italian Grand Prix – race 2
The two Spirit of Qatar boats lined up in second and fourth places in the 16-lap race, the start of which was delayed by nearly 25 minutes. Spirit of Qatar 95 finished lap one a mere 2.31s behind Victory 3, as the top four boats held station.
The Victory 3 crew extended their lead to 8.52s through lap two, but Spirit of Qatar 96 slipped behind Poliform and into fifth position among the nine runners. Al-Neama and Nicolini opted to take the first of their compulsory two long laps on the third tour and duly slipped down to fourth behind Victory 3, a flying Poliform and Team Abu Dhabi.
Victory 3 took a long lap on lap four and this enabled Poliform to close the gap at the front to just 24.75s, but the UAE crew still had plenty of water between them and the rest of the field. The Victory 3 crew completed their two long laps on lap five and maintained an outright lead of 30.36s, as the two Spirit of Qatar boats slipped to fourth and sixth, with Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis leading the way in 96, despite being forced to take a penalty lap.
Victory 3 remained out in front and appeared to be cruising to the European Championship title by the end of lap seven. The race was red-flagged for an incident involving the crew of Fendi Racing, who were both uninjured in the incident. Sheikh Hassan took the first of his two long laps soon afterwards and climbed to third at the expense of a troubled Team Abu Dhabi, with Spirit of Qatar 95 also rising to fifth.
The whole field had now bunched up considerably and Victory 3 began lap 11 with a slender 2.30s lead over Poliform, with Welmax sliding into third and pushing Spirit of Qatar 96 and 95 down to fourth and fifth positions. Victory 3 began to pull away again on the next lap and held a 8.89s advantage as the race reached the three-quarter point.
Sheikh Hassan completed his second long lap and slipped back to fourth behind Spirit of Qatar 95 and the leading quartet held station through laps 12, 13 and 14. Victory 3 duly held on to the chequered flag to confirm the European title and Spirit of Qatar 95 and 96 reached the finish in third and fourth positions, with Spirit of Qatar 95 confirming the runner-up spot in the European Championship at the expense of their team mates.
Spirit of Qatar 95 ran for two laps in the morning’s third practice session and set the third quickest lap of 2m 53.21s behind the flying Poliform, which posted a fifth lap time of 2m 51.50s.
Sheikh Hassan used the early part of the session for a mere one lap shakedown and recorded a time of 2m 57.53s to slot into third, but then ran a further three laps at the end and climbed to the top of the standings with a final sprint to 2m 51.18s.
Attention in Class 1 racing now switches to the final round of the season in Dubai in mid-December.
Italian Grand Prix – race 2 results:
1. Arif Saif Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE) Victory 3 54m 38.70s
2. Guido Cappellini (ITA)/Giampaolo Montavoci (ITA) Poliform 74 @ 20.25s
3. Ali Al-Neama (QAT)/Matteo Nicolini (ITA) Spirit of Qatar 95 @ 39.34s
4. Hassan Al-Thani (QAT)/Steve Curtis (GBR) Spirit of Qatar 96 @ 48.76s
5. Frank Hemelaer (BEL)/Luca Nicolini (ITA) FA.RO.ACCIAI 23 @ 2m 13.28s
6. Bjorge Jacobsen(NOR)/Kurt Olsen (NOR) Welmax 90 1 lap behind
7. Ugur Isik (TUR)/Christian Zaborowski (NOR) Relekta 91 1 lap behind
Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE)/Majed Al-Mansoori (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 5 DNF
Luca Formilli Fendi (ITA)/Giovanni Carpitella (ITA) Fendi Racing 10 DNF
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