The Fujairah Grand Prix, the penultimate round of this year's World Offshore Championship on October 26, saw a boat throttled by a British driver outrun the best in the world
The Fujairah Grand Prix, the penultimate round of this year’s World Offshore Championship on October 26, saw a boat throttled by a British driver outrun the best in the world. Competition included the two UAE Victory Team boats, 1 and 7, which had previously dominated the series.
Britain’s three-time world champion, Steve Curtis, sharing the driving with the Norwegian owner of Wimbledon FC, Bjorn Gjelsten aboard Sprit of Norway, set a winning average of 121.72mph for the 13 lap, 110 offshore mile contest. But it was no walkover.
It was Spirit’s second win in a season dogged with bad luck and mechanical breakdown. Sadly with only one round left in the title series, Gjelsten and Curtis, now lying third on the points table, have no chance of altering the outcome even if Saeed Al Tayer’s Victory 7 and team-mate Ali Nasser in Victory 1 fail to finish the final round. Despite a win for Spirit of Norway, Al Tayer and his co-driver Mohammed Al Marri would still take the 2001 title with a two point margin.
The start saw Saeed Al Tayer lead the pack in Victory 7. The challenge was short-lived however. With clear water ahead Curtis and Gjelsten edged past on the third lap and never looked back.
By contrast Italian Edoardo Polli, driving Highlander, was expected feature high in this event but broke down before the start. Jolly Motor driven by Norwegian Eric Kirkedelan, also a serious contender previously lying third on points and expected to do well here, blew and engine on the second lap. It was a disaster for Kirkedelan who now slips back one place to fourth.
Britain’s Ken Thorne, who hoped to see a trouble-free race at last, broke down yet again and pulled out on the second lap.
Apart from losing out to the Anglo/Norwegian winners, it was not a bad day for the Victory Team as a whole. Although points leader Victory 7 finished second behind Spirit of Norway, Victory 1 still managed to fill third slot nine minutes ahead of fourth driver, Kristian Tzanov of the UAE in Damas.
The result elevates Bjorn Gjelsten and Steve Curtis in the championship who enter the final round in Dubai next Friday third on the points table. Their battle will obviously now be with Eric Kirkedelen in Jolly Motor keen to turn the tables and finish runner-up.
World Class I (16 litre) Offshore Championship
Overall points standings with one race remaining:1. S. Al Tayer/M. Ali Marri (UAE) 99pts2. Al. Nasser/A. Al Qama (UAE) 97pts3. B. Gjelsten/S. Curtis (NOR/GB) 67pts4. E. Kirkedelan/M. Lippi (NOR/ITA) 57pts5. K. Tzanov/V. Polli (UAE/ITA) 37pts6. A. Ugland/J. Hillestad (Nor) 35pts