Qatar's Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini aboard Oatar 96 celebrated their first Class 1 victory after winning the Scandinavian Grand Prix.
Qatar’s Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini aboard Oatar 96 celebrated their first Class 1 victory after winning the Scandinavian Grand Prix. They finished ahead of Mohammed Al Marri and Jean Marc Sanchez driving Victory 77 and Jotun ‘s Bernhard Bellmann and Jann Hillestad who came third. Despite finishing outside the top three, Ali Nasser and Ali Al Qama driving Victory 7 achieved sufficient points to lift the European Championship after pre race favourite Spirit of Norway failed to finish.
Al-Thani and Nicolini made a strong start running second behind Spirit of Norway but gearbox problems forced them out on the12th lap. With clear water ahead, they seized the advantage, going on to complete the 19-lap, 102.1Nm course in 58mins 24.01secs at an average speed of 120.80mph/194.36kmh.
“This is a fantastic feeling to win our first Class I race,” said a delighted Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani. “We made some changes to our set-up and knew that we would be following Spirit of Norway. But we also knew they had some mechanical problems and decided to apply the pressure early on in case they broke down or hit trouble. Then we saw our chance, were in front, a position we managed to hold until the end. It was a strange feeling to be leading and we very nearly came to grief with a spin, but Matteo’s boat control was fantastic and we ended up as comfortable winners.”
With Qatar 96 out in front the Victory boats enjoyed a private battle in their wake with Nasser and Al Qama ahead before technical problems forced them to slow, eventually finishing fourth, leaving second slot to Victory 77.
“We had a good race after a terrible start. We stayed behind our team mates for a couple of laps and decided to take our long lap early which worked well and allowed us to get ahead.” said Sanchez. “But they managed to get back at us and then had the problem.”
Third place for Bellmann and Hillestad in Jotun, their second podium in two races was just reward for the team who had worked late into the night to repair the boat after their spin out in pole position.
“I am very happy and pleased for the team,” said Bernhard Bellmann. “We went for a very safe set up and our focus was always to ensure that we got a finish. We knew that we were at a disadvantage because we have a heavier boat. We lost a little time on the straights but gained some time in the turns with the set up we were running.”
Gianpaolo Montavoci and Domenico Cirilli maintained their record of finishing every race in the points with fifth place in GFN Gibellato ahead of Chris Parsonage and Peter McGrath in Negotiator that finished sixth despite having to return to the pits to change a broken propeller.
Qatar’s win elevates them to fourth place overall in the world championship standings and fourth place for the newly crowned 2004 European Champions Ali Nasser and Ali Al Qama extends Victory 7’s lead in the championship to 13 points.
Color Line Scandinavian Grand Prix – result
1. Qatar – Al Thani/Nicolini 20pts
2. Victory 77 – Al Marri/Sanchez 15pts
3. Jotun – Bellmann/Hillestad 12pts
4. Victory 7 – Nasser/Al Qama 9pts
5. GFN Gibellato – Montavoci/Cirilli 7pts
6. Negotiator – Parsonage/McGrath 5pts
Overall Championship Positions
1. Victory 7 – Nasser/Al Qama 53pts
2. Spirit of Norway – Gjelsten/Curtis 40pts
3. Victory 77 – Al Marri/Sanchez 39pts
4. Qatar – Al-Thani/Nicolini 32pts
5. Jotun – Bellmann/Hillestad 27pts
6. GFN Gibellato – Montavoci/Cirilli 24pts
7. Negotiator – Parsonage/McGrath 17pts
8. Hydrolift – Eker/Jacobsen 16pts
9. Highlander – Polli/Corti 12pts
9. Roscioli Hotels – Giorgi/Esperto 12pts