Qatar 95 crew celebrates first Class 1 win
Qatar 95‘s Abdullah Al Sulaiti and Lino Di Biase celebrated their first Class 1 win together on Thursday, leading home the Qatar team in the Middle East Grand Prix with Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al Thani and Matteo Nicolini driving Qatar 96 finishing second.
In third place and completing a clean sweep of the podium for teams using the new Mercury HP1075SCi engines were Norwegians Jorn Tandberg and Christian Zaborowski in Jotun.
“I am absolutely thrilled,” said Al Sulaiti. “To go from the terrible feeling of setting a token lap time in the Pole contest on Wednesday after technical problems to lining up this morning at the back of the field before going on to win the race is just unbelievable. It was a great team effort and what a place to win your first race? In front of a home crowd in Doha.” with Sheikh Hassan adding. “I am delighted for the entire team. Everyone has worked hard over the last 10 days. We have had our fair share of problems and this was a fitting reward for everyone’s efforts and a superb result for the team.”
In an open and unpredictable race, it was Al Sulaiti and Di Biase who produced one of the most impressive starts, coming from the outside of the pack and 10th on the start line to second place at the end of the first lap. But it was the all British pairing of Chris Parsonage and James Sheppard inKing of Shaves who led, with pre-race favourites Spirit of Norway third. Victory 77 lay sixth and Qatar 96 seventh.
By the end of the third lap Victory 77 and Qatar 96 had both picked up a place and with both Spirit and Qatar 96 taking their long laps early. Victory 77 moved into third place but a broken propeller on the tenth ended their race. Meanwhile King of Shaves was extending its lead appeared on course to win when a broken driveshaft on lap 11 robbed them of victory.
Qatar 95 was now comfortably out in front chased by Spirit in second place with Qatar 96 third and Jotun moving up from eighth into fourth slot. It was now a straight race to the line with Mercury powered boats running first, second and fourth. And despite the efforts of Bjorn Gjelsten and Steve Curtis, Qatar 95 began increasing its lead. Spirit‘s challenge ended on the 16th lap with a broken propeller as both Qatar boats went on to take first and second spot with Jotun third so completing a clean sweep for Mercury.
Giampaolo Montavoci and Domenico Cirilli produced a good performance to finish in fourth place in Foresti&Suardi-Roscioli Hotels with Nadir Bin Hendi and Ahmed Al Suwaidi fifth in Victory 7 with Spirit of Norway managing to limp round to finish sixth.
MIDDLE EAST GRAND PRIX – results
1. Qatar 95 – Al Sulaiti/Di Biase 20pts
2. Qatar 96 – Al Thani/Nicolini 15pts
3. Jotun – Tandberg/Zaborowski 12pts
4. Foresti & Suardi-Roscioli Hotels – Cirilli/Montavoci 9pts
5. Victory 7 – Al Suwaidi/Hendi 7pts
6 Spirit of Norway – Gjelsten/Curtis 5pts
7. Ceramiche Flaminia – Chillocci/Esperto 4pts
8. SeveneleveN – Nilsen/Giorgi 3pts
King of Shaves – Sheppard/Parsonage DNF
Victory 77 – Al Marri/Sanchez DNF
1. Qatar 96 – Al Thani/Nicolini 31pts
2. Spirit of Norway – Gjelsten/Curtis 29pts
3. Qatar 95 – Al Sulaiti/Di Biase 25pts
4. Victory 7 – Al Suwaidi/Hendi 18pts
5. Victory 77 – Al Marri/Sanchez 17pts
6. Jotun – Tandberg/Zaborowski 14pts
7. King of Shaves – Sheppard/Parsonage 13pts
8. Ceramiche Flaminia – Chillocci/Esperto 12pts
9. Foresti & Suardi-Roscioli Hotels – Cirilli/Montavoci 11pts
10. Seveneleven – Nilsen/Giorgi 5pts