Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al Thani and Matteo Nicolini moved to the top of the world offshore powerboat championship standings after producing a flawless display in Qatar 96 to win an incident filled Chess Norwegian Grand Prix, with pre race favourites Spirit of Norway retiring on the third lap and Sheikh Hassan and Nicolini's team mates, Abdulla Al Sulaiti and Lino di Biase crashing out in Qatar 95 on the 13th.
Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al Thani and Matteo Nicolini moved to the top of the world offshore powerboat championship standings after producing a flawless display in Qatar 96 to win an incident filled Chess Norwegian Grand Prix, with pre race favourites Spirit of Norway retiring on the third lap and Sheikh Hassan and Nicolini’s team mates, Abdulla Al Sulaiti and Lino di Biase crashing out in Qatar 95 on the 13th.
Qatar 96’s win was their second since entering the championship in 2003 and second in Norwegian waters, taking their maiden win in Oslo in 2004.
“It was the sweetest race we have ever run,” said Sheikh Hassan. “To pass the most competitive boat on the straight is really a great moment. All our hard work has paid off and we now know that the boat has the speed. The whole team has done an excellent job.”
Sheikh Hassan and Nicolini took the lead on the second lap and were never challenged, controlling the race from the front, extending their lead lap by lap to win the 18 lap, 93.94nm Chess Norwegian Grand Prix by 27 seconds at an average speed of 115.98mph(186.62km/h).
It became a race of attrition with four boats, Spirit of Norway, Victory 7 and Jotun retiring, it was Qatar 95 who made the most spectacular exit, barrel rolling on lap 13 when in fifth place.
“We had a good start and were slowly making up ground but unfortunately at the second corner we caught a wave from a boat in front of us. We just kept sliding as we turned and then rolled. We’re ok but there is a little bit of damage to the boat and I hope it will be ok for the next race.”
After enduring a frustrating weekend, Victory 77’s Mohammed Al Marri and Jean Marc Sanchez produced a gutsy performance and turned things around when it mattered most to take second place.
“This morning I was asked what was the plan – I said if we get a podium I would be happy and I am,” said Jean Marc Sanchez. “I think we were a bit short on propeller but overall it was ok. I am sorry for Spirit but that’s part of racing. We had some trouble with the steering when it locked which made it very difficult for Mohammed for two or three laps but I am pleased with the result and I know we can improve.”
And after just one race together and limited time in the boat, Chris Parsonage and Randy Scism also produced a strong showing, improving on their fourth place last time out, bringing Negotiator home in third spot to complete the podium.
“It was a good flat race and we were running pretty fast out there. We were a little loose in some of the corners, so we need to do some homework, but the whole team has done a great job.,” said Scism. “It’s now two races in a row with two engines so we get a few bonus points for that. All we need now is a little more steam and we’ll do it again.”
For both Maritimo and GFN Gibellato a strong points finish was vital after missing out in Plymouth, and both outfits were satisfied with fourth and fifth place respectively.
“It was a good run. The start was the usual mayhem and I think we were probably a little over propped but started to come together towards the end. We took a little time to gel and had a bit of a moment towards the end but overall I’m pretty happy with fourth.” said Maritimo’s driver, Peter McGrath.
Fifth place and seven points was a much needed moral booster for Giampaolo Montavoci and Domenico Cirilli. “It was important for us to finish today and fifth is a good result for the team, especially after the hard work everyone has put in to get the boat ready,” said Montavoci. “I think we were a little long in propeller because we had no power or pull out of the corner but we are pleased and now we can concentrate on one or two adjustments for the next race.”
This win puts Qatar 96 at the top of the championship standings with Victory 77 in second and Negotiator, third. And this season, teams who complete two races with one set of engines will receive 1.5 bonus points per engine.