|Spirit Of Qatar Teams Prepare To Start Pearl Qatar Grand Prix Race One From Second And Third Positions|
|Wednesday, 14 March 2012 17:54|
DOHA (QATAR): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani/Steve Curtis and Ali Al-Neama/Matteo Nicolini will start race one of the Pearl Qatar Grand Prix, the opening meeting of the 2012 UIM Class One World Powerboat Championship, from second and third positions after Wednesday afternoon’s Edox Pole Position on Qatar’s new 4.12Nm qualifying course.
The day’s action kicked off what championship promoters hope will be another thrilling season of Class One offshore racing and the Victory 3 crew of Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Mohammed Al-Marri will start the first of the weekend’s two races from Pole Position on Thursday afternoon.
But the first qualifying session of the year also produced one of the closest finishes in pole position history, with the Victory 3 boat eventually holding on to pole by just over half a second from Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis in Spirit of Qatar 96. A mere 5/100ths of a second had separated the duo heading into the closing minutes, but Spirit of Qatar 96 lost a water hose to the engine and was unable to challenge in the dying seconds for a faster time.
“Even though we finished second I am really excited,” said Sheikh Hassan. “The boat did perform and the winter practice paid off. We lost the hose and flooded the engine bay but that’s part of the game. I was upset with the steering system last time out in Dubai, but we are now in the same time bracket at Victory Team and it is a different ball game.”
Al-Neama and Nicolini finished third in Spirit of Qatar 95 and Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashid Al-Tayer and Majed Al-Mansoori were fourth of the eight boats that took to the water.
“We want to bring spectators on to the Pearl to see the racing and we will erect screens for people to watch the racing live,” added Sheikh Hassan, driver of Spirit of Qatar 96. “This is a long offshore course, nearly eight and a half miles, and whether it is bumpy or flat on the water, we know that we will have high speeds.”
Spirit of Qatar 95’s Matteo Nicolini is relishing Thursday’s opening race of the new season from third position. “I am quite happy with third today. I am sure we will get a very high speed. I think conditions are good. With the long length, it should be easier to overtake.
“On the shorter circuits, it is more difficult to overtake unless you make a pass at the start. The shame is that with a long circuit and nine boats it is not so good for the spectator for a good show. Maybe in the future we need to look at something for the championship as a whole with a mixed race, one long and one short course, depending where you are – maybe one on open seas and one close to the shore.”
The two-race Pearl Qatar Grand Prix is being organised by the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF), which is hosting a round of the UIM Class One World Powerboat Championship for the first time since 2009.
Edox Pole Position
Qualifying took place on the shorter 4.12Nm course and Spirit of Qatar 96 laid down the gauntlet with a potent solitary early lap of 2m 24.79s to edge the early advantage from Victory 3 (2m 25.46s). Spirit of Qatar 95 settled into third with a tour of 2m 26.32s in ideal race conditions, but just 1.64 seconds separated the first five boats.
Victory 3 edged 0.56 seconds in front of Spirit of Qatar 96 as the session reached the mid-point and Al-Zafeen and Al-Marri extended their advantage still further with a fourth lap of 2m 23.32s. Spirit of Qatar 95 improved to 2m 25.26s, but remained in third behind Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis.
Could Spirit of Qatar 96 snatch pole position in the closing minutes? The first attempt yielded a stunning lap of 2m 23.37s, but it was agonizingly 5/100ths of a second outside the Dubai boat’s leading time as the clocked ticked down. Victory 3 took to the water again to confirm the pole time and the crew were duly rewarded with an even faster time of 2m 22.84s. Spirit of Qatar 96 succumbed to hose trouible and Sheikh Hassan was unable to challenge for the coveted pole position.
Debutant Massimo Roggiero was concerned about a lack of clear visibility from the hatch screen in the cockpit of his Fa.Ro.ACCIAI boat. The Italian teamed up with Norwegian Pal-Virik Nilsen to set a quickest lap of 2m 35.84s to take eighth position.
Luca Fendi and Giovanni Carpitella suffered a disastrous pre-race shakedown test on Tuesday afternoon. They took Fendi Racing out for an unofficial test session on the course and hit a sandbank in shallow water at around 130mph, the impact damaging the rudder section, deck and both propellers on their V8 boat. The Italians were forced to miss qualifying, as they frantically tried to repair the boat in time for race one.
The Spirit of Qatar Teams were first on the water at the start of the new season on the brand new course off the coast of the Pearl in Qatar. A stiff breeze was blowing towards the shoreline and the stunning backdrop of new residential compounds, shops and restaurants when Team Abu Dhabi set the early target lap of 2m 27.95s of the shorter pole position course.
Eight of the nine boats used the 90-minute session to shakedown the boats and Victory 3 edged the quickest time of 2m 25.98s during three laps on the water. Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis set some consistent laps in the 2m 28s to 2m 32s range and finished the session with the fourth quickest tour of 2m 28.25s. Al-Neama and Nicolini ran for three laps and recorded a best time of 2m 28.93s.
After a second official practice session from 10.00hrs on Thursday morning, race one of the Pearl Qatar Grand Prix starts at 15.00hrs. The race will be run over one start lap of 3.24Nm and six laps of the longer 8.44Nm course in a total distance of 53.88 Nm.
2012 Pearl Qatar Grand Prix – Edox Pole Position
1. Arif Saif Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Mohammed Al-Marri (UAE) Victory 3 2m 22.84s
2. Hassan Al-Thani (QAT)/Steve Curtis (GBR) Spirit of Qatar 96 2m 23.37s
3. Ali Al-Neama (QAT)/Matteo Nicolini (ITA) Spirit of Qatar 95 2m 25.26s
4. Rashed Al-Tayer (UAE)/Majed Al-Mansoori (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 5 2m 25.43s
5. Paul Gaiser (BRZ)/Bjorge Jacobsen(NOR) Welmax Offshore 90 2m 26.43s
6. Guido Cappellini (ITA)/Gian Maria Gabbiani (ITA) Poliform 74 2m 28.15s
7. Ugur Isik (TUR)/Christian Zaborowski (NOR) Relekta 91 2m 29.82s
8. Massimo Roggiero (ITA)/Pal-Virik Nilsen (NOR) Fa.Ro.ACCIAI 23 2m 35.84s
Luca Formilli-Fendi (ITA)/Giovanni Carpitella (ITA) Luca Fendi Racing 10 DNS
2012 UIM Class One Edox Pole Position Championship – after round one
1. Arif Saif Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Mohammed Al-Marri (UAE) Victory 3 20 pts
2. Hassan Al-Thani (QAT)/Steve Curtis (GBR) Spirit of Qatar 96 15 pts
3. Ali Al-Neama (QAT)/Matteo Nicolini (ITA) Spirit of Qatar 95 12 pts
4. Rashed Al-Tayer (UAE)/Majed Al-Mansoori (UAE) Team Abu Dhabi 5 9 pts
5. Paul Gaiser (BRZ)/Bjorge Jacobsen(NOR) Welmax Offshore 90 7 pts
6. Guido Cappellini (ITA)/Gian Maria Gabbiani (ITA) Poliform 74 5 pts
7. Ugur Isik (TUR)/Christian Zaborowski (NOR) Relekta 91 4 pts
8. Massimo Roggiero (ITA)/Pal-Virik Nilsen (NOR) Fa.Ro.ACCIAI 23 3 pts
Luca Formilli-Fendi (ITA)/Giovanni Carpitella (ITA) Luca Fendi Racing 10 0 pt
2012 Pearl Qatar Grand Prix – timetable of events
Thursday, March 15th
10.00-11.30 Official practice
15.00 Pearl Qatar Grand Prix – race 1
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