Britain's Steve Curtis comes third

The first Edox Pole Position of the new season on Friday saw a maiden victory forQatar 95. The winners of the last race in 2008 carried forward their good form by posting the fastest time in qualifying. A determined late challenge byFazza 3, could not prevent the home fans celebrating their teams perfect start to the new season.Qatar 96, beset by problems all day, had to be satisfied with third place.

Qatar 95, driven by Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Matteo Nicolini, took the provisional pole from the early pace settersFazza 3with a time of 02.40.68 on their second lap. Any celebrations were short lived however; as their engines died just after crossing the start-finish line and they had to be towed back to the pontoon. A nervy wait followed asFazza 3and team-matesQatar 96headed out to try to snatch pole position. Despite their closest rivals pushing hard, the success so badly wanted by Al-Sulaiti and Nicolini was not to be denied them.

“We pushed really hard today. It was really important for the team to get that pole position in our home water,” said Al-Sulaiti. Of his maiden Edox Pole Position victory, Al-Sulaiti commented:

“To me it means a lot, I got my first win here in Doha, and now I have my first pole position here too.” With his throttle man Nicolini adding; “We have done everything we can so far, but there is a lot of hard work ahead of us remaining for the weekend, and rest of the season.”

Victory Team’s double world championship pairing of Arif Al Zafeen and Nadir Bin Hendi, inFazza 3, could only take second place, despite two very fast laps afterQatar 95had set their time. Their best lap of 02.40.82 was only one tenth of a second slower than the leaders and they will be determined to make up for their second place in Saturday’s race.

“We are disappointed not to be first,” said Bin Hendi, “Each day is different, but that is racing. Saturday is more important.”

Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Steve Curtis, aboardQatar 96, had to settle for the final podium place. A day which saw them struggle to match the speed of the top two, ended in frustration and they had to be content with third on the grid for the start of their home grand prix after a quickest time of 02.41.98. Sheikh Hassan said:

“At least we are on the podium. We would rather work on reliability and ensure we are in a position to finish the race tomorrow.” Curtis added: “We will ensure everything is ready for the race.”

QATAR EDOX POLE POSITION QUALIFYING RESULTS

1. Qatar 95 A Al-Sulaiti (QAT) / M Nicolini (ITA) 02.40.68

2. Fazza 3 A Al Zafeen (UAE) / N Bin Hendi (UAE) 02.40.82

3. Qatar 96 H Al-Thani (QAT) / S Curtis (GBR) 02.41.98

4. Victory 1 M Al Mehairi (UAE) / JM Sanchez (FRA) 02.43.90

5. Welmax C Zaborowski (NOR) / J Tandberg (NOR) 02.44.45

6. Aurantium C Rivolta (ITA) / G Carpitella (ITA) 02.49.62

7. Maritimo G Manuzzi (SMR) / P McGrath (NZL) 02.52.06

8. Foresti & Suardi – Roscioli Hotels 8 – F Pansini (ITA) / G Montavoci (ITA) 02.55.84

9. Giorgioffshore R Calugi (ITA) / N Giorgi (ITA) 02.58.75

10. Maritimo 11 – T Barry-Cotter (AUS) DNS