Victory 1 ©Raffaello Bastiani
Championship leaders, Victory 1, took a giant step towards retaining the team's World title after leading home a dream one-two finish in today's Egyptian Grand Prix after seeing all three of their main title rivals falter, with Negotiator capping an impressive return to top-flight racing, finishing third.
For Mohammed Al Marri and Nadir Bin Hendi, today's win, the team's fourth of the season, moves them 15 points clear of team-mates Victory 7, and puts Al Marri within sight of his second world crown and Bin Hendi his first, but more importantly puts them 35 points clear of their Qatari rivals, with just two races remaining and with only 40 points on offer. 'We have worked hard all weekend to prepare the boat to make sure we had reliability and the best set-up.' said Bin Hendi. 'The team have done a fantastic job. They gave us two great boats and we did the rest. We had some bad luck in the last race and today makes up for it.'
With rough conditions anticipated, race officials decided to run a revised course and reduced the race distance to 70Nm, and the message from Victory Team's general manager, Gianfranco Venturelli, before the race to both his crews was to bring the boats home in one piece. And, after seeing the pole-sitters Qatar 96 lead from the flag and then open up a comfortable lead, the Victory 1 crew looked to have settled for second place. 'We knew Qatar 96 would be strong in these conditions and there was no need for us to push.' said Mohammed Al Marri. 'What was important was to look after the boat and get the points. Anything else would be a bonus.' The bonus came on lap 13 when the leaders hit trouble and slowed. Victory 1 swept into the lead, going on to take a comfortable win by over two minutes.
For the Qatar team their day went from bad to very bad. With Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis now limping around the course to salvage valuable points, team-mates Abdullah Al Sulaiti and Matteo Nicolini in Qatar 95, who were running comfortably in third place suddenly stopped a lap later, handing second place to Victory 7. 'If there is any luck anywhere in the world we need it.' said Sheikh Hassan. 'We made a great start and had built up a big lead and then hit trouble. There was a problem with the water pick-up which flooded the engine bay. But to lose two boats in two laps is unbelievable. I think it is time to close the chapter on the 2008 title. But we will go to Dubai to fight for second place.'
Negotiator held off a race-long challenge from Foresti & Suardi to take third place, which marked an impressive return to racing for Chris Parsonage, who has sat out the last four races, and capped an impressive Class 1 debut for throttleman, Billy Moore. 'This is a great result for us. I am ecstatic.' said Moore. 'We were a little short on top end speed but the boat ran real well all weekend and to get on the podium in our first race together is a really good feeling.'
Giampaolo Montavoci and Kolbjorn Selmer maintained their impressive record for reliability producing their best result of the season bringing Foresti & Suardi home in fourth place. 'We had one or two problems with the steering but I am happy to finish fourth.' said Montavoci. 'Our boat is still too heavy but the most important thing today was not to damage the boat and get to Dubai in one piece. Here we will have new engines and new propellers.'
And whilst there was disappointment for the Spirit of Spain crew, retiring on lap12, Class 1 newcomer Mohammed Abdelkader Ahmed, marked his Class 1 debut with four points in eighth place in Roscioli Hotels Roma with Ahmed Al Suwaidi. There was also disappointment for SeveneleveN who retired on lap five and Jotun's hopes of a win hat-trick ended on lap three.
Class 1 now heads to Dubai for the final two races, with Mohammed Al Marri and Nadir Bin Hendi on target to win the World, Middle East and the Edox Pole Position Championships.
EGYPTIAN GRAND PRIX - result
1. Victory 1 - M Al Marri (UAE) / N Bin Hendi (UAE) - 00.51.03,17
2. Victory 7 - A Al Mehairbi (UAE) / JM Sanchez (France) + 02.08,29
3. Negotiator 50 - C Parsonage (England) / W Moore (USA) + 1 lap
4. Foresti & Suardi 8 - K Selmer (Norway) / G Montavoci (Italy) + 1 lap
5. Qatar 96 - H Al-Thani (Qatar) / S Curtis (England) + 4 laps
6. Qatar 95 - A Al-Sulaiti (Qatar) / M Nicolini (Italy) + 6 laps
7. Roscioli Hotels Roma 60 - M A Ahmed (Spain) / A Al Suwaidi (UAE) + 7 laps
Spirit of Spain 88 - S Carrasco (Spain) / G Carpitella (Italy) - dnf
SeveneleveN 18 - G Manuzzi (Italy) / N Giorgi (Italy) - dnf
Jotun 90 - IB Aarbakke (Norway) / J Tandberg (Norway) - dnf
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP - after round 6 of 8
1. Victory 1 - 105pts 2. Victory 7 - 90pts 3. Qatar 95 - 72pts 4. Qatar 96 - 71pts 5. Jotun 90 - 64pts 6. Foresti & Suardi 8 - 50pts 7. Spirit of Spain 88 - 19pts 8. Negotiator 50 - 16pts 9. SeveneleveN 18- 14pts 10= Qatar 9 - 4pts 10= Roscioli Hotels Roma 60 - 4pts
(Championship points include bonus points allocated to teams for running engines for two consecutive races - one point, per engine, per race)
MIDDLE EAST CHAMPIONSHIP - after round 2 of 4
1. Victory 1 - 40pts 2. Victory 7 - 27pts 3. Qatar 96 - 22pts 4= Foresti & Suardi 8 - 16pts 4= Negotiator 50 - 16pts 6. Qatar 95 - 14pts 7. SeveneleveN 18 - 5pts 8. Roscioli Hotels Roma 60 - 4pts
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