The final round of the 2004 UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship looks set to produce one of the most fascinating clashes of recent year's with Spirit of Norway and Victory 7 going head to head for the world title in the Dubai Grand Prix on Friday, 10 December.

The final round of the 2004 UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship looks set to produce one of the most fascinating clashes of recent year’s with Spirit of Norway and Victory 7 going head to head for the world title in the Dubai Grand Prix on Friday, 10 December.
Gjelsten and Curtis start with Spirit of Norway holding a slender five points advantage, knowing that a win or second place, should Victory 7 take the race honours, will give them their third consecutive world crown and their fourth since teaming up in 1996. If there is pressure on Gjelsten and Curtis, there is as much, if not more, on Ali Nasser and Ali Al Qama.
Nasser is chasing his third world title and Qama his first. Both know that they are tantalizingly close to bringing the biggest prize in powerboat racing back to Dubai, which the Victory Team last won in 2001.
The outcome is too close to call; Spirit has won five out of seven races this season and Victory 7 just one. But it is Nasser and Qama’s overall performance and reliability, scoring points in every round that has kept them at the forefront of the title race, whereas Gjelsten and Curtis may find that their two retirements in Plymouth and Oslo, ultimately prove very costly. But what both outfits deserve is a trouble free run and that performance, not extreme weather conditions or mechanical gremlins decide the fate of the 2004 title.
Behind the title challengers there are battles throughout the fleet; the fight for the remaining podium slot is as close with Al Marri and Sanchez in Victory 77 just five points ahead of Al Thani and Nicolini driving Qatar 96. Once again there is little between them in terms of performance.
In fifth spot, Giampaolo Montavoci will be hoping to celebrate his birthday on race day, by taking his best ever overall finish in the championship with Domenico Cirilli. Both know they will face strong opposition from Britain’s Chris Parsonage and McGrath in Negotiator and Norwegians Bellmann and Hillestad in Jotun. The remaining battle is between Bard Eker and Ricardo Brkovic in Hydrolift and Nicola Giorgi and Mauro Esperto in Roscioli Hotels.
Ahead of Friday’s Grand Prix, Gjelsten and Curtis will be looking to wrap up their fourth consecutive Pole Position Championship in The Palm Speed Record on Tuesday, 7 December which replaces the Pole Position run that was postponed in Doha taking powerboat racing inside the calm waters of The Palm Jumeirah for the first time.
DUBAI GRAND PRIX 8-10 DECEMBER
Race distance: 18 laps, 92.70Nm – Start lap 5.85Nm 16 x 5.05Nm laps 1 x 6.05 Nm long lap
First held: 1992
2003 Race winners: Bjorn Gjelsten/Steve Curtis – Spirit of Norway
Time: 38mins 1sec – Ave speed: 98.08mph/157.84kmh / Distance: 12laps/54Nm
2003 Pole Position winners: Hassan Al Thani/Matteo Nicolini – Qatar 96
Time: 2mins 32.41secs – Ave speed: 106.01mph/170.61kmh / Distance: 3.9Nm
Overall Championship Positions – after seven rounds
1. Spirit of Norway – Gjelsten/Curtis 100pts 2. Victory 7 – Nasser/Al Qama 95pts
3. Victory 77 – Al Marri/Sanchez 70pts 4. Qatar – Al-Thani/Nicolini 65pts
5. GFN Gibellato – Montavoci/Cirilli 41pts 6. Negotiator -Parsonage/McGrath 37pts 7. Jotun – Bellmann/Hillestad 30pts 8. Hydrolift – Eker/Jacobsen 23pts
9. Roscioli Hotels – Giorgi/Esperto 17pts 10.Highlander – Polli/Corti 12pts
Overall Pole Position Championship – after six rounds
1. Spirit of Norway – Gjelsten/Curtis 115pts 2. Victory 7 – Nasser/Al Qama 78pts
3. Victory 77 – Al Marri/Sanchez 69pts 4. Qatar – Al-Thani/Nicolini 50pts
5. Jotun – Bellmann/Hillestad 49pts 6. Negotiator – Parsonage/McGrath 26pts
7. Roscioli Hotels – Giorgi/Esperto 20pts 8. GFN Gibellato – Montavoci/Cirilli 17pts 9. Highlander – Polli/Corti 13pts 10. Hydrolift – Eker/Jacobsen 12pts