Bard Eker and Steve Curtis recovered from a dramatic first lap spin before producing a breathtaking performance to win the Honda British Grand Prix in Spirit of Norway on July 17
Bard Eker and Steve Curtis recovered from a dramatic first lap spin before producing a breathtaking performance to win the Honda British Grand Prix in Spirit of Norway on July 17. Sheikh Hassan Al-Thani and Matteo Nicolini in Qatar 96 finished second with Victory 77‘s Mohammed Al Marri and Jean Marc Sanchez coming home in third spot.
For Norwegian driver Bard Eker it was the end to a perfect weekend for his pairing debut with Curtis aboard Spirit of Norway with their race win backing up the fastest time in the qualifying session.
Spirit of Norway won the all important race to the first corner and came out ahead of their main rivals Qatar 96 and Victory 77, but a dramatic high speed spin-out at the second corner cost them over 25 seconds dropping Eker and Curtis to sixth. The new pairing then produced a remarkable performance; by lap two they were up to fifth and with the leading quartet taking their long laps early, Spirit of Norway were back in front by lap six. With clear water ahead of them Eker and Curtis pulled out all the stops to make up the time lost. On lap 12 they took their long lap and the tactics to leave it late paid off coming out in front of Qatar 96 and going on to win by a comfortable 20seconds.
“It is a perfect result but I made a mistake on the second corner when I was too hot on the steering wheel and I was really trying too hard. I just turned too hard and spun but then recovered to get round the buoy,” said Bard Eker.
“After that we spoke to our Team Manager and decided to take our long lap late and go for clear water to try and make up time and position which we did. Right now I’m exhausted as we had to focus on getting back into the race.”
Sheikh Hassan Al-Thani and Matteo Nicolini produced their best result in Plymouth to take second place and despite having led the race for five laps were pleased with the result.
“This was a great start to the season for both our teams,” said a delighted Sheikh Hassan. “Last year we had a disappointing beginning, but second place here in England gets Matteo and myself off to a flying start. Spirit made a rare mistake early on and we were ahead until the 11th lap, but they made a good calculation when to take the compulsory long lap and moved into the lead. We were on their pace all the way through the race and that is very encouraging.”
Victory 77 completed the podium line-up but admitted to being surprised when they realised Spirit were ahead of them.
“We had a good start and the race was ok until Spirit of Norway came out in front after the long lap – we said where have they come from – we were very surprised. As we were behind Qatar we decided to go for an early long lap and we came out neck and neck with Qatar but on the turn we struggled. We then had to race in rough water but Spirit came out of nowhere and really surprised us.”
Completing a day for new team line-ups, Chris Parsonage and Randy Scism in Negotiator produced a strong performance in their first race together, repeating their qualifying result to finish fourth ahead of an excellent fifth for Abdullah Al-Sulaiti on his Class 1 debut with Lino Di Biaise in Qatar 95, with Jorn Tandberg and Christian Zaborowski coming home in sixth spot on their Class 1 debut.
Honda British Grand Prix
Spirit of Norway – Eker/Curtis 20pts
Qatar 96 – Al Thani/Nicolini 15pts
Victory 77 – Al Marri/Sanchez 12pts
Negotiator – Parsonage/Scism 9pts
Qatar 95 – Al Sulaiti/Di Biase 7pts
>Jotun – Tandberg/Zaborowski (points to be confirmed)
Victory 7 – Hindi/Al Marri DNF
Roscioli Hotels – Giorgi/Polli DNF
Maritimo – Barry-Cotter/McGrath DNF
GFN Gibellato – Montavoci/Cirilli DNS