June 13, 2013

Class 1 - Istanbul Turkey Grand Prix Preview

Fifteen years after the Jolly Motor crew of Massimo Lippi and Lamberto Leoni won the first Class 1 Grand Prix to be held in Istanbul in 1998, the Championship returns for the UIM Class 1 Isiklar Turkish Grand Prix, the second event of the season, and this time to race across the Bosphorus in Pendik on 14-16 June on the Marmara Sea.
All eyes will be on the Turkish-Norwegian duo of Ugur Isik and Christian Zaborowski to see if the repairs carried out on their Victory built, Mercury powered Zabo-Isiklar will give them the same firepower and opportunity to continue where they left off in China, and carry the fight to Victory and go one better than their second places in qualifying at race 1 in Sanya past March.
With the ship carrying the boats from China only arriving in Istanbul at the end of May the team has faced a race against time to repair the extensive damage sustained in their dramatic first corner crash in Sanya's race 2, and be ready for driver Ugur Isik’s home Grand Prix.
However, team principal Jan Zaborowski is confident that with the comprehensive pre-repair work and preparation that they carried out in Norway, and with the time that they have spent on the boat in Turkey, they will be in good shape to build on what was the team’s best overall performance since Isik and Zaborowski teamed-up in 2011 in Abu Dhabi.
Lining-up as race favourites will be Arif Al Zaffain and Mohammed Al Marri who will be looking to extend their lead in the Championship standings and try to emulate the successes achieved by previous Victory pairings in Turkey; Ali Nasser and Randy Scism taking the chequered flag in Istanbul and in Bodrum in 1999 - Nasser winning again in Istanbul the following year with Khalfan Harib - Mohammed Al Marri winning with Saeed Al Tayer in Marmaris also in 2000.
The last event to be held in Turkey was in Izmir in 2002 and won by Spirit of Norway’s Bjorn Rune Gjelsten and Steve Curtis, and of the present day class of 2013 only Mohammed Al Marri, Giampaolo Montavoci and Ugur Isik have raced on Turkish waters.
The defending Champions are on a six-race winning streak, are unbeaten in their last four outings in qualifying and following their Sanya Grand Prix win-treble in the season-opener in March, sit 24-points clear of LFFendi10 and HUB Team Australia.
Al Zaffain and Al Marri top the Victory Team’s all-time winners table with 34 and 24 wins respectively, with five-time World Champion Al Zaffain now equal with Bjorn Rune Gjelsten and closing in on Steve Curtis’ longstanding record of 42 wins.
Two outfits who will be looking to challenge Victory and Zabo-Isiklar in Pendik-Istanbul are Italians Luca Formilli Fendi and Giovanni Carpitella in LFFendi10 and Australians Darren Nicholson and Ross Willaton in HUB Team Australia.
They enjoyed a herculean scrap and podium success in Sanya, both outfits running Victory built boats - the Italians running SCAM V12 power-plants the Aussies Victory V12s.
In race 1 the Aussies attacked and the Italians defended for six of the 10 laps - the gap never more than five seconds - but the LFFendi10 crew hung on to finish in third and take revenge on the Australian crew who had knocked them off the podium in qualifying.
They continued their dice in race 2, but the Australian duo was able to turn the tables on their Italian rivals to go on and take their second podium of the weekend - the Fendi crew settling for another third.
Formilli Fendi and Carpitella will start their 13th Grand Prix together looking for their first win from 20 race starts, with Carpitella starting his 50th race.
The team has also confirmed a revised line-up in their second boat, LFFendi8, with Italian Marco Pennesi, who made his Class 1 debut in Arendal in 2007 and last raced in Brazil in 2010, joining countryman and series newcomer Alfredo Amato who made his Class 1 debut in Sanya alongside Miles Jennings.
Team Abu Dhabi’s recent driver reshuffle takes another twist in Istanbul with the team confirming a revised line up, recalling Class 1 regular Rashed Al Tayer to resume race duties alongside rookie, Faleh Al Mansoori.
Al Tayer missed the season-opener in China but returns to start his 14th Grand Prix and for the first time in 24 race starts in Class 1 will switch over to take the throttles as he looks to add to his tally of three wins, eight podiums and one pole position.
In Sanya newcomer Al Mansoori partnered Giampaolo Montavoci in qualifying to finish a very credible fifth and then went on to race with Tomaso Polli to take fifth and fourth spots and put the team into fourth place overall in the points table.
Team D’Alessio-SCAM has yet to confirm their line up and whether or not they will stay with Gian Maria Gabbiani and Luca Nicolini for a sixth Grand Prix start together.
The duo enjoyed a solid season-opener last time out picking up five points in qualifying and matched the position with sixth in race 1. They enjoyed a solitary run and untroubled race 2 maintaining fifth place throughout, and once again proved their reliability completing their sixth straight points finish in FA.RO. ACCIAI.
DAC Racing has revealed that Turkish driver Tarik Oktem will make his Class 1 debut in Istanbul alongside Giampaolo Montavoci in Poliform.
Montavoci, a veteran of 102 Grands Prix and 113 race starts, showed and proved his versatility in Sanya, jumping in and out of two different boats to guide two rookies on their Class 1 debuts, racing with Al Mansoori in Team Abu Dhabi in qualifying and with Salim Al Adidi in races 1 & 2 in Poliform, picking up points with both.
The action on the water starts with first official practice on Friday 14 morning followed by official qualifying in the Edox Pole Position in the afternoon. Two further practice sessions are followed by races one and two on Saturday and Sunday at 15.30hrs local Turkish time.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP - after round 1
1. 3 Victory Team - 40pts 
2= 10 LFFendi10 - 24pts 
2= 7 HUB Team Australia - 24pts 
4. 5 Team Abu Dhabi - 16pts 
5. 91 Zabo-Isiklar - 15pts 
6. 23 FA.RO.ACCIAI - 12pts. 
7. 74 Poliform - 5pts
1. 3 Victory Team - 20pts 
2. Zabo-Isiklar - 15pts 
3. HUB Team Australia - 12pts 
4. LFFendi10 - 9pts 
5. Team Abu Dhabi - 7pts 
6. FA.RO.ACCIAI - 5pts
7. LFFendi8 - 4pts

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