July 15, 2009

Class 1 - Arendal Norway Preview

Jorn Tandberg, the defending European Champion, will be hoping to break the Middle East dominance in Class 1 when he starts the defence of his title in next weekend's BMW Norwegian Grand Prix in Arendal, 17-19, July, where 40 points will be up for grabs as the UIM WPPA Class 1 World Powerboat Championship introduces a two race Grand Prix format for the first time.
Tandberg, a two-times winner in 2008, will line up in the Mercury V8-powered Welmax, as he chases down a third win on home waters in four years and looks to kick-start his season after a broken drive shaft ended his race in Qatar.
As the on-water battle for supremacy between V8 and V12 power-plants intensifies, the overwhelming threat to a second consecutive win for Tandberg in Arendal lies with the in-form Victory and Spirit of Qatar camps.
Fazza, who won in Arendal in 2007, struck the first blow in the 2009 title race in Qatar, are currently enjoying an unprecedented trouble free run in a race boat that has not missed a beat in over two seasons and look to be the team to beat.
Team mate in Victory 1, throttle man Jean-Marc Sanchez also a winner in Arendal, will have other ideas, and will be looking to break his long run of podium finishes nine from ten starts with a win.
The Spirit of Qatar crews will also have their eyes on the main prize in Arendal, but on each other as well, as their in-house fight for supremacy again V8 over V12, and bragging rights intensifies. Qatar 95 grabbed their maiden Edox Pole Position win last time out, but saw the hard work undone, a win vanish after stopping mid race and their team mates take second place. Both outfits have modified their boats and tested recently; confident the gremlins have been fixed. Steve Curtis believes that he and Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani will be very quick in Arendal, but admits they will have to push hard and up their game, as they look for their first win together in Qatar 96 since teaming up in 2008.
With one or two driver line-ups changing and to be finalised, the tussle amongst the middle order is hard to gauge; Giorgioffshore has enjoyed a run of good results in recent outings, a podium at the end of 2008 and a fifth in Qatar, and looks set to continue. Giampaolo Montavoci will be joined in Foresti & Suardi - Roscioli Hotels by fellow Italian, Giampiero Soave, making just his second start in Class 1, he made his debut with Montavoci in the Portuguese Grand Prix in Lisbon in 2004, whilst Domenico Cirilli's pairing of Abdelkader and Carpitella in C.A.M is still be confirmed.
Maritimo Australia has been busy working frantically on both their charges to fix the handling and technical issues that blighted their return to Class 1 at the season opener and limited their time on the water. Both crews will be desperate to produce a solid points' finish; Maritimo 12's throttleman, Peter McGrath, is optimistic that the modifications have got them 80% of the way to where they should be and now it's just a case of more time in the boat with his new driver, Giorgio Manuzzi. Whilst Tom Barry-Cotter will be hoping that the success he has enjoyed racing in Australia, successfully defending his Australian Offshore Superboat title will start to carry over into Class 1 in Maritimo 11.
The Arendal course, run inside the narrow fjords, is one of the most spectacular, challenging and demanding on the Class 1 circuit, and for all the pilots and technicians the twelfth Grand Prix to be run in Arendal presents a new challenge, as Class 1 introduces a restructured race-weekend and two race Grand Prix format for the first time, where success or failure in race 1 will impact hugely on the outcome in race 2.
The new format, warmly welcomed by the teams and all of Class 1's Grand Prix Organisers, will see first official practice taking place on Friday afternoon, with an extended one-and-a-half hour session on Saturday morning for official practice and qualifying in the Edox Pole Position, with no limit to the number of timed laps, followed by race 1 in the afternoon, 50.85 nautical miles made up of 9 laps including one long lap.
A third official practice session on Sunday morning will be followed by race 2 in the afternoon with the starting line-up determined by the results of race 1 and 68.21Nm, run over 12 laps, including two long laps. Both races count for full championship points.

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