March 18, 2012

Class 1 - Qatar Grand Prix

RACE 1
Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Steve Curtis led home a Spirit of Qatar one-three in race 1 of the Pearl Qatar Grand Prix, ending a nine-year wait for Sheikh Hassan to break his jinx of not winning on home waters since taking his first podium in Doha back in 2004.
Teammates Ali Al Neama and Matteo Nicolini made it a double podium celebration for the Doha based team, coming home in third place behind Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al Tayer and Majed Al Mansoori.
It was a day of high drama inside the Pearl Qatar that started in the morning’s interrupted practice session, with Welmax crashing out and FA.RO ACIAI bursting into flames, side-lining both outfits for today’s race.
The drama carried over into the race with Victory’s Arif Al Zafeen and Mohammed Al Marri penalised a total of four penalty laps.
The parade lap saw Poliform immediately in trouble and limping back to the pits on one engine as the six remaining boats headed out for the start to run a revised circuit after race organisers reduced the lap distance to 6.63Nm.
The Spirit of Qatar 96 duo found themselves trailing in second place after the start as Victory’s Al Zafeen and Al Marri edged ahead on the run to the first turn mark to lead at the end of lap one. Spirit of Qatar 95 came through in third ahead of Team Abu Dhabi, Fendi Racing and Relekta, both Fendi Racing and Relekta’s race ending on lap 2.
By lap 3 Victory had opened up a 12 second lead but were adjudged by race officials to have moved across on Spirit of Qatar 96 on the run to the first turn and handed a penalty lap. Team Abu Dhabi passed Spirit of Qatar 95 and up into third place.
Victory’s penalty lap proved costly dropping them to fourth and last place, with Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis taking full advantage and surging into the lead.
For defending World Champion Al Zafeen the day deteriorated into farce, missing a buoy on the penalty lap, only to be handed another and then missing the same buoy, ultimately collecting four penalty lap infringements and running out the race in fourth spot.
Sheikh Hassan and  Steve Curtis were able to maintain their pace out front and from lap four were never troubled, going on to complete the nine lap, 56.26Nm race in 31.53,37secs at an average speed of 198.40km/h.
Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al Tayer and Majed Al Mansoori continued the impressive form they have shown throughout the weekend and once they had passed Al Neama and Nicolini were able to take their second podium together since teaming-up in Class 1 in Norway last year.
Despite a recurring electronic problem that kept cutting power to one engine, the Spirit of Qatar 95 duo were able to hang on to third spot for what Nicolini described as an ‘unexpected podium’.
Race 2 of the Pearl Qatar Grand Prix takes place on Saturday, 17 March with Sheikh Hassan looking to make it an historic win-double.
PEARL QATAR GRAND PRIX, RACE 1 - results
1. 96 Spirit of Qatar - H Al Thani (QAT) / S Curtis (ENG) 00.31.53,37
2. 5 Team Abu Dhabi - R Al Tayer (UAE) / M Al Mansoori (UAE) + 00.13,77
3. 95 Spirit of Qatar - A Al Neama (QAT) / M Nicolini (ITA) + 00.39,25
4. 3 Victory - A Al Zafeen (UAE) / M Al Marri (UAE) + 01.48,95
5. 10 Fendi Racing - L Formilli Fendi (ITA) / G Carpitella (ITA) DNF
6. 91 Relekta - U Isik (TUR) / C Zaborowski (NOR) DNF
7. 74 Poliform - G Cappellini (MON) / G M Gabbiani (ITA) DNF
8. 23 FA.RO. ACCIAI - M Roggiero (ITA) / P V Nilsen (NOR) DNS
9. 90 Welmax - P Gaiser (BRA) / B Jacobsen (NOR) DNF
RACE 2
Victory’s Arif Al Zafeen and Mohammed Al Marri came from behind to win race 2 of the Pearl Qatar Grand Prix, taking their third win together from four starts since teaming-up in Dubai at the end of last season.
Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al Tayer and Majed Al Mansoori made it a one-two celebration for the United Arab Emirates taking their second podium of the Grand Prix weekend, with Thursday’s race winner’s Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al Thani and Steve Curtis completing the podium in Spirit of Qatar 96.
Today’s result puts Victory and Spirit of Qatar 96 joint top of the Championship standings on 32 points, with Team Abu Dhabi two points adrift in third.
But the Dubai duo did not have it all their own way and had to overturn a strong challenge after a breathtaking start to the race by Italian outfit Poliform.
The drag race from the green flag saw pole-sitters Spirit of Qatar 96, Team Abu Dhabi and Victory 3, line a breast and just feet apart as they hurtled into the first turn. But it was Guido Cappellini and Class 1 debutant Gian Maria Gabbiani in Poliform, starting on the outside of the line of eight, who showed a blistering turn of speed to get out front and come across to lead at the end of lap 1.
Cappellini and Gabbiani, who failed to make the start of race 1 and forced to sit out the next two practice sessions with a recurring engine problem, held off the challenge of Al Zafeen and Al Marri, edging out to a four second lead before a technical problem forced them to slow, conceding the lead and retiring from the race on lap 6.
With Poliform out, Al Zafeen and Al Marri were able to control the race and extended their lead, going on to complete the 11 lap, 66.54Nm race in 39mins 13.68s to win by over 15 seconds.
Behind the race leader’s, Team Abu Dhabi and the Spirit of Qatar boats raced line astern, neither making any inroads to the other, with Al Tayer and Al Mansoori able to maintain a comfortable 11 second gap over Spirit of Qatar 96.
For Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis any hopes of completing the Doha double evaporated at the first turn, losing the advantage of being in pole position and dropping to fourth at the end of the first lap. Following their disqualification from race 1, teammates Ali Al Neama and Matteo Nicolini faced an uphill task, starting from seventh place on the start line, and were unable to make any inroads completing a frustrating weekend finishing in fourth.
Fendi Racing’s team manager, Marco Bonomo, had said before the race that after all the hard work that the team had put in to repair the boat after Luca Fendi and Giovanni Carpitella’s brush with a sandbank earlier in the week, if they finished it would be like winning, the Italian duo coming home in fifth place to pick up seven valuable points.
There was more frustration for Norwegian outfit Relekta who ended a disappointing start to their year with a second retirement for Ugur Isik and Christian Zaborowski – stopping on lap 4.
Welmax duo of Paul Gaiser and Bjorge Jacobsen paid back their team’s efforts for repairing the boat after they crashed out in second practice by putting in a cameo role, taking to the water to complete a handful of laps.
PEARL QATAR GRAND PRIX, RACE 2 - results
1. 3 Victory - A Al Zafeen (UAE) / M Al Marri (UAE) 00.39.13,68
2. 5 Team Abu Dhabi - R Al Tayer (UAE) / M Al Mansoori (UAE) + 00.15,72
3. 96 Spirit of Qatar - H Al Thani (QAT) / S Curtis (ENG) + 00.28,53
4. 95 Spirit of Qatar - A Al Neama (QAT) / M Nicolini (ITA) + 00.49,53
5. 10 Fendi Racing - L Formilli Fendi (ITA) / G Carpitella (ITA) + 1 LAP
6. 74 Poliform - G Cappellini (MON) / G M Gabbiani (ITA) DNF
7. 91 Relekta - U Isik (TUR) / C Zaborowski (NOR) DNF
8. 90 Welmax - P Gaiser (BRA) / B Jacobsen (NOR) DNF
9. 23 FA.RO. ACCIAI - M Roggiero (ITA) / P V Nilsen (NOR) DNS
UIM CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP - after race 2
1= 96 Spirit of Qatar - 32pts
1= 3 Victory - 32pts
3. 5 Team Abu Dhabi - 30pts
4. 95 Spirit of Qatar - 9pts
5. 10 Fendi Racing - 7pts
6= 91 Relekta - 0pts
6= 74 Poliform - 0pts
6= 23 FA.RO. ACCIAI - 0pts
6= Welmax - 0pts
MIDDLE EAST CHAMPIONSHIP - after race 2
1= 96 Spirit of Qatar - 32pts
1= 3 Victory - 32pts
3. 5 Team Abu Dhabi - 30pts
4. 95 Spirit of Qatar - 9pts
5. 10 Fendi Racing - 7pts
6= 91 Relekta - 0pts
6= 74 Poliform - 0pts
6= 23 FA.RO. ACCIAI - 0pts
6= Welmax - 0pts