Incident filled event

The opening race of the Romanian Grand Prix, the third round of the Class 1 World Offshore Powerboat Championship, was packed with incident and accidents, withFazza(pictured) leading from start-to-finish to claim its second win of the season. Team-mate and championship leader,Victory 1, continued its success with a third podium in successive races to take second place.

Welmax had to battle back from eighth place after an incident withVictory 77as they crossed the start-finish line for the first time, to take their first podium of the season. A spectacular 180 degree flip on one of the more docile corners of the course sawMaritimo 12crash out on the seventh lap and end their weekend’s racing.

Defending World Champion Nadir Bin Hendi and 2007 Champion Arif Al Zafeen,Fazza, followed up its Edox Pole Position win with another dominant display. A near perfect start saw them get to the first mark ahead ofVictory 1, and then produce a flawless performance to comfortably take the chequered flag and with it the joint lead of the Championship.

“We had a good start,” said Bin Hendi, “and once we were ahead we just pushed till the end of the race.”

Rookie driver Mohammad Al Mehairi and Jean-Marc Sanchez,Victory 1, claimed a third successive podium place, the only team to do so this season.

“The start is so important on a course like this,” said Sanchez, “It is all about getting to the turn first, but Fazza just had the speed on us and then we were stuck in their wake for a couple of laps.” Al Mehairi and Sanchez had to settle for second place as they were unable to claw back the time during the remainder of the race.

The all-Norwegian pairing of Jorn Tandberg and Kolbjorn Selmer,Welmax, powered their way back through the pack to claim a well earned podium place. Selmer, who finished on the race-podium for the first time, said:

“We were hit by 77 and got pushed out off the course; by the time we came round we were in last place. The rest of the race was about pushing to catch up the remaining boats. We ended up with a good result today.” Despite making their way through the tail-enders in just five laps, it looked like they would have to settle for fourth place, until a hook by Australian boatMaritimo 11on the eleventh lap allowed them to slip past and claim an unlikely third place.

Maritimo 11’s Tom Barry-Cotter and Pal Virik Nilsen made a flying start to take third place at the end of the start-lap. They held onto the position for most of the race, but had to contend with the ever closingWelmaxin their rear-view mirror. The need to push, forced them to go too hard into a corner and the resulting hook allowedWelmaxto power past and take the podium they thought was theirs. Nilsen commented:

“It is so frustrating, we had the place in our pocket, but it slipped away.”

Peter McGrath and Giorgio Manuzzi,Maritimo 12, saw their race end on lap seven, after flipping over on the bottom corner of the race course.

“We went into the corner and then slid around the corner; as soon as it dropped its beak it was gone. I wasn’t expecting it at that corner as we thought we had it.”

Nicola Giorgi and Kurt Olsen, Giorgioffshore, moved into fifth place on lap nine when a penalty long-lap was handed toVictory 77for an infringement at the start. It was a good performance for the new pairing and fifth place equalled the team’s best result of the season from Doha, Qatar.

For the returning Mohammad Al Marri and Abdullah Al Mehairbi inVictory 77it was an incident-filled race. An infringement at the start, which they were later penalised for, resulted in them taking fourth spot at the end of the start lap, despite the collision withWelmax. A battle withMaritimo 12looked to have gone against them until the Australian raceboat’s accident. The penalty lap cost them fifth place and they came home in sixth, only to find out they had been disqualified for the incident involvingWelmax.

ROMANIAN GRAND PRIX RACE 1 – results

1. Fazza 3 – A Al Zafeen (UAE) / N Bin Hendi (UAE)

2. Victory 1 – M Al Mehairi (UAE) / JM Sanchez (FRA)

3. Welmax 90 – KO Selmer (NOR) / J Tandberg (NOR)

4. Maritimo 11 – T Barry-Cotter (AUS) / PV Nilsen (NOR)

5. Giorgioffshore 18 – K Olsen (ITA) / N Giorgi (ITA)

6. Foresti & Suardi – Roscioli Hotels 8 – G Soave (ITA)

Victory 77 – A Al Mehairbi (UAE) / M Al Marri (UAE) – DQ

Maritimo 12 – G Manuzzi (SMR) / P McGrath (NZL)