Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Steve Curtis will start tomorrow’s Hypo Group Montenegrin Grand Prix on Pole after a stunning qualifying lap in today’s Edox Pole Position in Budva.
Qatar 96. Photo: Raffaello Bastiani ©
Sheikh Hassan and Curtis needed just one lap in their Skema, V12-powered Qatar 96 to set the day’s best time of 2m 19.78s around the 4.06Nm lap at an average speed of 120.35mph/193.65 kmh, to win by just over a second from Dubai’s Victory 1, crewed by Mohammed Al Marri and Nadir bin Hendi.
The Victory duo – racing together for the first time in the absence of Bin Hendi’s regular partner, injured World and European Champion Arif Al Zafeen – posted their best time of 2m 21.37s on their second of three flying laps, with Jotun’s all-Norwegian pairing of Jorn Tandberg and Bjorge Jacobsen, third fastest in 2m 21.98s.
Today’s Pole Position was in stark contrast to Sheikh Hassan and Curtis’ last qualifying lap in Qatar two months ago, when they all but destroyed their race boat. But after weeks of intensive work on the spare boat, plus the addition of Skema, V12 engines, Sheikh Hassan and Curtis looked to be back at their best, and will start as marginal favourites to win the 23-lap, 93.83Nm Hypo Group Montenegrin Grand Prix being held off the coast of the Adriatic’s ‘Budvanska Rivijera’. 'We’re pushing it to keep ahead of Victory but not overstepping the mark,' said Curtis. 'The guys have worked very hard to get the spare boat into this condition and it’s amazing what they have done in the time they’ve had.'
Despite the frustration and disappointment at failing to outpace their arch rivals, Victory 1’s Nader Bin Hendi was confident that the race will be a different story. 'The boat is perfect and Mohammed and I are working well together,' said the Dubai throttleman. 'I think we can go at least two seconds quicker and might have beaten Qatar’s time if we had had a clear run on our last lap. Whatever the conditions tomorrow we have a great chance to take the win.'
While all eyes will be on the on-going rivalry between the teams from Qatar and Dubai, no one should overlook Jotun, following Jorn Tandberg’s and Bjorge Jacobsen impressive third place in qualifying. 'It is a very good feeling to have the boat running well again,' said Jorn Tandberg. 'The difference in time between the top three is just over two seconds so I think this was a very good result for the team. I think it will be hard to find too much more speed in the same conditions, but if the sea is rough tomorrow it will suit the boat, which handles very well in rough conditions.'
EDOX POLE POSITION - RESULT
1. Qatar 96 - H Al-Thani (Qatar) / S Curtis (England) – 02.19,78
2. Victory 1 - M Al Marri (UAE) / N Bin Hendi (UAE) – 02.21,37
3. Jotun 90 - B Jacobsen (Norway) / J Tandberg (Norway) – 02.21,98
4. Qatar 95 - A Al-Sulaiti (Qatar) / M Nicolini (Italy) – 02.22,67
5. Victory 7 - A Al Mehairbi (UAE) / JM Sanchez (France) – 02.25,73
6. Foresti & Suardi 8 - K Selmer (Norway) / G Montavoci (Italy) – 02.35,95
7. SeveneleveN 18- G Manuzzi (Italy) / N Giorgi (Italy) – 02.40,87
8. Roscioli Hotels Roma 88 - S Carrasco (Spain) / D Cirilli (Spain) – dns
EDOX POLE POSITION CHAMPIONSHIP – after round 2 of 8
1= Victory 1 - M Al Marri (UAE) / N Bin Hendi (UAE) – 35pts
1= Qatar 96 - H Al-Thani (Qatar) / S Curtis (England) – 35pts
3= Qatar 95 - A Al-Sulaiti (Qatar) / M Nicolini (Italy) – 21pts
3= Jotun 90 - B Jacobsen (Norway) / J Tandberg (Norway) – 21pts
5. Victory 7 - A Al Mehairbi (UAE) / JM Sanchez (France) – 11pts
6. Foresti & Suardi 8 - K Selmer (Norway) / G Montavoci (Italy) – 8pts
7. Negotiator 50 - B Eker (Norway) / C Parsonage (England) – 7pts
8. SeveneleveN 18- G Manuzzi (Italy) / N Giorgi (Italy) – 6pts
9. White 4 – M Al Nasser (Qatar) / L Nicolini (Italy) - 5pts
Roscioli Hotels Roma 88 - S Carrasco (Spain) / D Cirilli (Spain)
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