Mohammed Al Marri and Jean Marc Sanchez achieves dramatic win in Saturday's Mina Seyahi Grand Prix
Mohammed Al Marri and Jean Marc Sanchez driving Victory 77 pulled off a dramatic win in Saturday’s Mina Seyahi Grand Prix with the championship leaders, Spirit of Norway, blowing an engine on the penultimate lap as it headed the fleet.
For Victory 77 the win was the perfect response after a frustrating pre-race qualifying session which saw Al Marri and Sanchez start sixth on the line. The result now keeps their world championship hopes very much alive with the lead between them and Spirit of Norway down to one point.
“It’s a fantastic win for the team,” said Jean Marc Sanchez. “After qualifying sixth our morale was a little down but we knew we could turn things around because we know we have the boat and the capability. We changed our set-up and the plan was just to keep the pressure on and in the end it paid off.”
In an incident filled and dramatic race it was Qatar 96 who led from the flag but conceded the lead on the fifth lap after receiving a penalty for hitting a turning mark.
“The penalty lap was the difference that probably stopped us winning but that was the price we paid for being too smart,” commented Sheikh Hassan. “It was my mistake for trying to keep the racing line too tight.”
With Qatar 96 dropping to third it was Spirit of Norway that moved into the lead followed by Victory 77. Spirit of Norway took its longer pit laps on the tenth circuit handing the advantage to Victory 77 but the championship leaders were able to regain the lead on the 15th when Victory 77 in turn took theirs. With the leading trio holding station for the next five laps, it looked as though Spirit of Norway was heading for its fourth win of the season, but on lap 19 a blown engine forced it out of contention to eventually finish fifth.
Third place for Abdullah Al Sulaiti and Lino di Biase added to the Qatar camps celebrations and puts the team in first and second positions in the Middle East Championship. Chris Parsonage and James Sheppard produced a strong performance in King of Shaves in their first race since their crash in the British Grand Prix in July. Nicola Giorgi and Pal Nilsen also produced their best result of the season coming home sixth in SeveneleveN and Victory 7, Ceramiche Flaminia) and Jotun all failing to finish.
For Giampaolo Montavoci and Domenic Cirilli the race was short lived, crashing out on the opening lap with both pilots escaping unhurt.
“We had made some modifications to the boat and the handling was very sensitive. We were racing King of Shaves and Jotun as we came into the turn inside Palm Island. I think maybe we caught some wake and over she went. Luckily the boat is not badly damaged and we should be able to repair her in time.”
The result means the championship goes to the wire in the final race on Saturday, 2 December and for Spirit of Norway and Victory 77 it is winner takes all.
MINA SEYAHI GRAND PRIX
1. Victory 77 – Al Marri (UAE)/Sanchez (FR) 20pts
2. Qatar 96 – Al Thani (QAT)/Nicolini (ITA) 15pts
3. Qatar 95 – Al Sulaiti (QAT)/Di Biase (ITA) 12pts
4. King of Shaves – Parsonage (GB)/Sheppard (GB) 9pts
5. Spirit of Norway – Gjelsten (NOR)/Curtis (GB) 7pts
6. SeveneleveN – Giorgi (ITA)/Nilsen (NOR) 5pts
Victory 7 – Hendi (UAE)/Al Suwaidi (UAE) DNF
Ceramiche Flaminia – Chillocci (ITA)/Leppala (FIN) DNF
Jotun – Tandberg (NOR)/Zaborowski (NOR) DNF
Foresti & Suardi-Roscioli Hotels – Montavoci (ITA)/Cirilli (ESP) DNF
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS – after round 7 of 8
1. Spirit of Norway – Gjelsten (NOR)/Curtis (GB) 102pts
2. Victory 77 – Al Marri (UAE)/Sanchez (FR) 101pts
3. Qatar 95 – Al Sulaiti (QAT)/Di Biase (ITA) 79pts
4. Qatar 96 – Al Thani (QAT)/Nicolini (ITA) 70pts
5. Jotun – Tandberg (NOR)/Zaborowski (NOR) 69pts
6. Foresti & Suardi-Roscioli Hotels – Montavoci (ITA)/Cirilli (ESP) 56pts
7. Victory 7 – Hendi (UAE)/Al Suwaidi (UAE) 42pts
8. King of Shaves – Parsonage (GB)/Sheppard (GB) 31pts
9. Ceramiche Flaminia – Chillocci (ITA)/Leppala (ITA) 27pts
10. SeveneleveN – Giorgi (ITA)/Nilsen (NOR) 20pts