July 13, 2008

Powerboat P1 - Tunisia Gran Prix, GFN Gibellato Conam Yachts Win

It was another difficult weekend for the P1 teams, what was called a tough and fit only challenge from the crews, with the med sea showing for another time this year his dark side. Tunisia proved a big challenge for all teams, with issues like high temperature, big swell seas and attrition all playing a big part in the difficulties for the boats and there crews. The Sunday Evolution team race with only 3 boats finishing the race was just testimony to all the problems the boats faced. Now it will be a longish 2 month break for the championship with a teaser in between for the classic Cowes Torquay Cowes race, which the P1 Management is promoting.
The 60 GFN Gibellato crew continued their impressive 2008 form in this weekend’s Tunisian Grand Prix of the Sea Evolution Endurance race. The Italian crew pipped the 88 Kiton Outerlimits and 99 Fountain Worldwide 1st4boats.com entries in a dramatic race of incidents and attrition that proved a real test for the stamina of both boats and crews. With 40C temperatures on the shore, and probably 50C+ temperatures in the closed canopy Evolution cockpits, the battle for the lead in the early stages of the event was a fierce four-way duel between the 10 Fantastic 1 Cigarette boat, the 69 Honeyparty.com boat, and the 77 Lucas Oil team. Closing fast on this mix were the reigning champion and current class-leading 99 Fountain Worldwide 1st4boats.com team, but just as the British-based squad seemed like they were about to do their usual job of emerging ahead of the pack, they yo-yoed from fourth to first, and back to fourth again after a dramatic first corner spin. Things weren’t any easier for the leading pack as one-by-one the 10 Fantastic 1 Cigarette boat, the 69 Honeyparty.com boat and the 77 Lucas Oil team dropped by the wayside with mechanic problems, many of which were related to the intense heat. Going into the closing laps, the 60 GFN Gibellato team emerged from the gaggle leading the 88 Kiton Outerlimits boat, the 99 Fountain Worldwide boat and the sole remaining survivor, the 53 Pignolo 53 entry. If such tough conditions and unpredictable results continue for the Sprint race, we could well have some significant changes at the top of the Evolution class points standings.
The Evolution Sprint race round of the Tunisian Grand Prix of the Sea proved as much of a test of stamina of man and machine as Saturday’s Endurance race, with the 10 Fantastic 1 Cigarette Racing Team Europe squad, the 76 Italcraft boat and the 88 Kiton Outerlimits emerging the top-three survivors from an attrition-marked race. The first few laps provided some of the closest racing of the season so far as the 10 Fantastic 1, the 60 GFN Gibellato, the 88 Kiton Outerlimits and the 99 Fountain Worldwide 1st4boats.com crews battled fiercely for position. By the end of the first lap, though the 99 Fountain Worldwide crew were slowing with broken steering, and the 60 GFN Gibellato boat was surging ahead into a dominant lead. As the 88 Kiton Outerlimits boat slowed with an engine problem, the four-way battle turned into a two-way scrap that in the closing laps soon became a solo performance as the 60 GFN Gibellato boat followed the lead of the midfield runners and crawled to a halt. That put the 10 Fantastic 1 boat back ahead, with the US-backed Italian-run team scoring their first Powerboat P1 victory on a weekend when regular throttleman Lino Di Biase was replaced with Class 1 racer Matteo Nicolini. The only joy for the 60 GFN Gibellato team was that the high rate of attrition meant they were able to score third place, and secure the overall Tunisian Grand Prix of the Sea honours from the 10 Fantastic 1 boat and Max Ferrari’s 53 Pignolo53 entry.
The reigning champion 44 Conam Yachts team took their sixth win of the 2008 Powerboat P1 season in Saturday’s Tunisian Grand Prix of the Sea Endurance race, but the Italian-based outfit was nearly beaten on the track for the first time this year. The 07 VoomVoom.com boat took the initial lead on the run through the first corner, they were passed on the back straight by the 59 Saho Offshore Ranas boat. The twin-canopy boat then powered into a comfortable lead that they held for the first half of the race. On lap seven, though, the 59 Saho boat fell off plane on the far side of the course, and despite a concerted effort to restart the race, they were forced to pull into the harbour. That gave the lead back to the 44 Conam Yachts crew, who had quickly worked their way past the 07 VoomVoom.com boat and chased 59 Saho as they opened up a clear gap over 07 VoomVoom.com and the rest of the field. Ultimately, the 07 VoomVoom.com crew took second, but it was a close run thing. The 38 Baia High Performance mechanics had worked all through the night to make their Donzi hull seaworthy after it was inadvertently dropped on the dock while being craned out of the wet pits on Friday afternoon. After just making the start of the race, they powered their way through the field to a well-deserved podium finish. The 05 Team Tullio Abbate Wild Card entry, the 22 Big Sergio Al & Al boat and the 11 Team Sunseeker crew rounded out the top six finishers. There was disappointment for the 47 Silverline Buzzi Bullet crew as they were forced to miss the race after suffering a seized engine in final practice, while the 08 Phoenix TV and the 46 Spirit of Portomaso boats retired.
The SuperSport title-leading 44 Conam Yachts crew took their seventh win of the year in the Tunisian Grand Prix of the Sea Sprint race, securing overall Grand Prix of the Sea honours at the same time. The double win allied to their 50-point bonus for completing the first half of the year without an engine change gives them a 190 point advantage in the championship points table. The 07 VoomVoom.com squad currently 44 Conam Yachts closest challenges were the only team to stay within touching distance of the Italian reigning champions at the start of the race, but Tedeschi and Ciantar once again quickly pulled out a comfortable lead that proved impossible to beat. A second second place of the weekend for the 07 VoomVoom.com squad gave them runner-up spoils in the Grand Prix of the Sea trophy chase. 08 Phoenix TV took the final podium spoils of the Sprint race, while fourth place was a superb result for the returning 11 Team Sunseeker. After a two-race sabbatical following the sinking of their boat in Marseilles, France, this was a fantastic comeback weekend by the British squad. The 05 Team Tullio Abbate Wild Card entry edged the 47 Silverline Buzzi Bullet boat and the 22 Big Sergio crew in the final race finishers to take the final Grand Prix of the Sea podium spot. It was double jeopardy for the Donzi crews, though, as the 38 Baia High Performance OSG team failed to complete the first lap and the 59 Saho boat failed to start with a transmission problem.
Evolution Class Sprint Results
1 10 The Fantastic 1 46m38.77s
2 76 Italcraft 48m59.84s
3 60 GFN Gibellato 57m16.46s
4 66 Cranefields Wine 49m38.35s - 2 laps
5 53 Pignolo 53 1h00m32.32s - 2 laps
6 88 Kiton Outerlimits 52m25.54s - 3 laps
7 99 Fountain Worldwide 1st4boats.com RET
8 57 Centaurian Yachts RET
9 77 Lucas Oil RET
10 69 honeyparty.com DNS
Evolution Class Endurance Results
1 60 GFN Gibellato
2 88 Kiton Outerlimits
3 99 Fountain Worldwide 1st4boats.com
4 53 Pignolo 53 - 1 lap
5 77 Lucas Oil RET
6 69 honeyparty.com RET
7 10 The Fantastic 1 RET
8 66 Cranefields Wine RET
9 76 Italcraft RET
10 57 Centaurian Yachts RET
SuperSport Class Sprint Results
1 44 Conam Yachts 45m36.53s
2 07 VoomVoom.com 47m10.20s
3 08 Phoenix TV 48m24.84
4 11 Sunseeker Challenger 48m25.05s
5 05 Special Team Guido Abbate 49m52.34s
6 47 Silverline Buzzi Bullet 51m05.99s
7 22 The Big Sergio 48m15.15s - 1 lap
8 38 Baia High Performance RET
9 46 The Spirit of Portomaso DNS
10 59 Saho DNS
SuperSport Class Endurance Results
1 44 Conam Yachts 1h13m43.57s
2 07 VoomVoom.com 1h15m14.96s
3 38 Baia High Performance 1h15m16.28s
4 05 Special Team Guido Abbate 1h18m31.20s
5 11 Sunseeker Challenger 1h17m22.23s - 1 lap
6 22 The Big Sergio 1h117m47.80s - 1 lap + 4 min penalty
7 59 Saho RET
8 08 Phoenix TV RET
9 46 The Spirit of Portomaso RET
10 47 Silverline Buzzi Bullet DNS

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