Spirit of Norway's Bard Eker and Steve Curtis took their third win of the season in an incident filled Qatar Grand Prix on Saturday (November 12)

Spirit of Norway‘s Bard Eker and Steve Curtis took their third win of the season in an incident filled Qatar Grand Prix on Saturday (November 12) with Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al Thani and Matteo Nicolini aboard Qatar 96 emerging unscathed from a spectacular crash, just seconds into the race.

“We got a reasonable start but were running very tight alongside each other. They were trying to push us across but we pulled out in front and kept our line”, said Steve Curtis. “We saw Victory fall back and suddenly Qatar 96 was right behind us. When we looked back they had also gone”.

For Sheikh Hassan and Matteo Nicolini it was their second big crash in two years of racing; their first being Portugal in 2004 putting any hopes of a title challenge beyond them. This high impact incident cost them the championship points lead knocking them back to third on the table.

“I knew the race would be interesting”, said Sheikh Hassan. “We were working on a strategy that we hoped would work. Spirit pulled out in front of us and I tried to make space to get passed, but the boat just flipped in the air. It is really disappointing, but there are two races left in the series and we will make sure that we are fully-prepared for them”.

With their main rivals Qatar 96 out of the running and Victory 77 lying fifth, Eker and Curtis had a clear run to the first turning mark and were then able to dictate the pace throughout the race to become comfortable winners, completing the 18 lap, 91nm course in 49mins 59.29secs setting an average speed of 202.15km/h – 125.63mph.

As Spirit of Norway disappeared into the distance it was Abdullah Al Sulaiti and Lino Di Biase in Qatar 95 who led the somewhat hopeless chase from Jotun, Negotiator and Victory 77. Jotun‘s race ended on lap nine with a broken propeller with Victory 77 moving up through the field to take third.

For Sulaiti and Di Biase, second place and their first podium together was some consolation for the Qatar Team.

“It was our plan to push hard from the start which we did but it was very unfortunate to see 96 go out”, said Sulaiti. “We were third into the first mark and had a good fight for a couple of laps with Jotun, and once we got passed them we just maintained our pace”.

Third place for last weekend’s race winner’s Al Marri and Sanchez moves them into second place in championship but Sanchez was not happy with the start.

“I don’t know what 96 were doing but there was always going to be trouble”, he said. Chris Parsonage and Randy Scism brought Negotiator home in fourth, ahead of Giampaolo Montavoci and Domenico Cirilli in GFN Gibellato, enjoying their best result of the season in fifth with team mates, Ceramiche Flaminia‘s Pino Chillocci and Kristian Tzanov completing a good two race debut together finishing in the points again, with Roscioli Hotels. seventh – their best result of the season.

The Class 1 world championship now heads to Dubai for the remaining two races. Spirit of Norway‘s Eker and Curtis are back at the top of the championship table, ten and a half points clear of Victory 77 and 14 in front of Qatar 96.

Qatar Grand Prix – result

1 Spirit of Norway – Eker/Curtis 20pts

2 Qatar 95 – Al Sulaiti/Di Biase 15pts

3 Victory 77 – Al Marri/Sanchez 12pts

4 Negotiator – Parsonage/Scism 9pts

5 GFN Gibellato – Montavoci/Cirilli 7pts

6 Ceramiche Flaminia – Chillocci/Tzanov 5pts

7 Roscioli Hotels – Giorgi/Polli 4pts

Jotun – Tandberg/Zaborowski DNF

Qatar 96 – Al Thani/Nicolini DNF

Victory 7 – Hindi/Al Marri DNS

Overall Championship Positions

1 Spirit of Norway – Eker/Curtis 78pts

2 Victory 77 – Al Marri/Sanchez 67.5pts

3 Qatar 96 – Al Thani/Nicolini 62pts

4 Negotiator – Parsonage/Scism 46pts

5 Qatar 95 – Al Sulaiti/Di Biase 34pts

6 Jotun – Tandberg/Zaborowski 27pts

7 GFN Gibellato – Montavoci/Cirilli 25pts

8 Victory 7 – Hindi/Al Marri 19.5pts

9 Maritimo – Barry-Cotter/McGrath 17pts

10= Ceramiche Flaminia – Chillocci/Tzanov 9pts

10=Roscioli Hotels – Giorgi/Polli 9pts