Steve Curtis throttling Qatar 96 breaks while leading
Dubai’s Victory Team celebrated their eighth World Championship success in sixteen years on Saturday after Victory 1’s Mohammed Al Marri and Nadir Bin Hendi led home their team-mates, Abdullah Al Mehairbi and Jean-Marc Sanchez driving Victory 7, to complete the team’s third one-two finish of the season in the Mina Seyahi Grand Prix. Nicola Giorgi and Giorgio Manuzzi celebrated their first Class 1 podium after bringing SeveneleveN home in third place.
The newly crowned world champions knew that they did not have to fight for the win to lift the title, and were happy to let Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis – both desperate to take their first win of the season – disappear into the distance in Qatar 96, and run in second spot. But on lap 15, Qatar 96 slowed dramatically, handing the lead to Victory 1 and a second world title to Al Marri and a first for Bin Hendi.
“It is a great feeling to have regained my world title,” said Mohammed Al Marri. “The boat has run perfectly all season and today was the same. Our strategy all weekend was to play it safe, and we were happy to run in second behind Qatar 96 at the start knowing we just needed points. It’s been a great team performance all year.”
Victory 7 once again produced a strong performance, with Abdullah Al Mehairbi and outgoing World Champion, Jean-Marc Sanchez, taking their sixth podium of the season to secure the runners-up slot in the Championship standings.
“It is all about team-work,” said Sanchez. “We made a good start and saw Victory 1 on our inside at the first turn. We let them go and then just sat in behind them.”
For SeveneleveN’s Nicola Giorgi and Giorgio Manuzzi, the only boat other than both Victory outfits to complete 21 laps, third place was well deserved and a just reward for all the work the team has put in this season to develop their new boat.
“I had a good feeling after today’s practice that we were going to do something special,” said Nicola Giorgi. “It was quite rough out there, but this suited our boat. I think we have proved today that Giorgioffshore is heading in the right direction.”
Fourth place for Qatar 95 was little consolation for the team, who, for the second consecutive race, saw a huge race-lead disappear due to unreliability.
“We are disappointed with fourth position,” admitted Matteo Nicolini. “This boat is very difficult to drive when it is heavy and full of fuel and we had two spin-outs on the turns. But we managed to recover and were chasing down SeveneleveN when one of the engines lost pressure and we had no power to catch them. Now we must try our best next weekend to get a podium.”
For Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis, their hopes of a race win ended after leading from the flag and for 15 of the 21 laps.
“It is just not our year,” said a disappointed Curtis. “We had a massive 50 second or so lead and then we had a problem with the drop box and that was the end of that. It’s very disappointing. Now we must look to next weekend and try and win the Edox Pole Position and again go for the race win to salvage something from this season.”
For four crews there was disappointment and frustration; Roscioli Hotels Roma stopped on lap two, after seeing their team-mates, Spirit of Spain, go out on the opening lap, with both Negotiator and Jotun failing to make the start line.
MINA SEYAHI GRAND PRIX
1. Victory 1 – M Al Marri (UAE) / N Bin Hendi (UAE)
2. Victory 7 – A Al Mehairbi (UAE) / JM Sanchez (FRA)
3. SeveneleveN 18 – G Manuzzi (ITA) / N Giorgi (ITA)
4. Qatar 95 – A Al-Sulaiti (QAT) / M Nicolini (ITA)
5. Maritimo 11 – T Barry-Cotter (AUS) / PV Nilsen (NOR) 4 laps
6. Foresti & Suardi 8 – K Selmer (NOR) / G Montavoci (ITA) 5 laps
Qatar 96 – H Al-Thani (QAT) / S Curtis (GB) – dnf
Roscioli Hotels Roma 60 – M A Ahmed (ESP) / A Al Suwaidi (UAE) – dnf
Spirit of Spain 88 – S Carrasco (ESP) / G Carpitella (ITA) – dnf
Jotun 90 – IB Aarbakke (NOR) / J Tandberg (NOR) – dns
Negotiator 50 – C Parsonage (GB) / W Moore (US) – dns
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP – after round seven of eight
1. Victory 1 – 125pts 2. Victory 7 – 105pts 3. Qatar 95 – 81pts 4. Qatar 96 – 71pts 5. Jotun 90 – 64pts 6. Foresti & Suardi 8 – 57pts 7. SeveneleveN 18 – 26pts 8. Spirit of Spain 88 – 19pts 9. Negotiator 50 – 16pts 10. Qatar 9 – 4pts Roscioli Hotels Roma 60 – 0pts