Victory's European Title Showdown

Victory 1 (at the BMW Norwegian Grand Prix)

Qatar 96 and Jotun will spearhead the fight-back to overhaul Victory’s lead in the World title race as Class 1 heads to the Black Sea resort of Mamaia-Constanta where teams will resume rivalries in the Romanian Grand Prix on Sunday, 31 August, round five of the Class 1 World Powerboat Championship and the fourth and final round of the Class 1 European Championship. And barring all disasters, it is Dubai’s Victory Team who look set to lift the European title.

Mohammed Al Marri and Nadir Bin Hendi, who lead the World Championship by 18 points and carry a ten-point advantage in the European standings, will line up in Victory 1 on Mamaia’s Lake Siutghiol for the 21-lap, 94.77Nm Romanian Grand Prix, as the clear favourites to lift a sixth European title for the team and the first silverware of the year after dominating the first half of the season, with Bin Hendi taking three wins from four starts, one with Arif Al Zafeen, out injured after round one, and two with Al Marri.

The immediate challenge to Victory 1 are team-mates, Abdullah Al Mehairbi and defending World and European Champion, Jean-Marc Sanchez, who have taken three podiums this season, out-gunning their team-mates last time out. But Victory 7’s throttleman, Sanchez, winner in Romania last year, knows that if he is to retain his title, they have to finish ahead of Victory 1 with several boats between them and an 11-point advantage – a tall order.

However, should either of the Victory outfits falter or hit trouble, several boats lie in wait with an outside tilt at the European crown. Jotun’s Inge Brigt Aarbakke and Jorn Tandberg, who ended Victory’s winning streak with a sensational win in the BMW Norwegian Grand Prix, are the most improving team this season and now the leading European challenger to the might of the Middle East teams, with Aarbakke and Tandberg looking for a second consecutive win.

For Qatar 96, also with three podiums to their credit, a second European title looks a distant prospect, but both Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Steve Curtis know that to keep their World title aspirations alive, finishing ahead of both Victory outfits is the priority. Team-mates Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Matteo Nicolini, currently lying in fourth slot in the overall title race in Qatar 95, will switch engines for Romania and the remainder of the season, opting to run Sterling V8 power-plants.

Foresti & Suardi’s Italian-Norwegian partnership of Giampaolo Montavoci and Kolbjorn Selmer head the battle for middle-order supremacy comfortably under-pinning their sixth place with consistency and reliability, finishing in the top six in all races so far this season.

For Roscioli Hotels Roma’s Domenico Cirilli, 2008 is seen as a year for developing new talent, and he and his new charge, Sergio Carrasco, have produced solid performances in their first season together, with the all-Spanish pairing taking points finishes from two of their three starts – missing out in Moscow after a harrowing moment when their steering broke – and looking for more points in Romania.

SeveneleveN’s crew of Nicola Giorgi and Giorgio Manuzzi are also looking at this season as a development year, with a new boat and driver-throttleman combination and more recently a new engine package. And with new engines for the second half of the season, Giorgi is confident that they can repeat the kind of performance that earned them a top six finish in the season opener.

After unveiling Class 1’s newest thoroughbred in Moscow, designed by Matteo Nicolini and built by Nicolini Offshore, Mohammed Al-Nassr and Luca Nicolini will give the boat only its third outing in Romania, looking for reliability to realise the promise and potential seen during multiple practice sessions and Pole Position outings.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP - after round 4 of 8
1. Victory 1 - M Al Marri (UAE) / N Bin Hendi (UAE) – 77pts
2. Victory 7 - A Al Mehairbi (UAE) / JM Sanchez (France) – 59pts
3. Qatar 96 - H Al-Thani (Qatar) / S Curtis (England) – 51pts
4. Qatar 95 - A Al-Sulaiti (Qatar) / M Nicolini (Italy) – 48pts
5. Jotun 90 – IB Aarbakke (Norway) / J Tandberg (Norway) – 42pts
6. Foresti & Suardi 8 - K Selmer (Norway) / G Montavoci (Italy) – 32pts
7. Roscioli Hotels Roma 88 - S Carrasco (Spain) / D Cirilli (Spain) – 12pts
8. SeveneleveN 18 - G Manuzzi (Italy) / N Giorgi (Italy) – 7pts
9= Negotiator 50 - B Eker (Norway) / C Parsonage (England) – 4pts
9= Qatar 9 - M Al-Nassr (Qatar) / L Nicolini (Italy) – 4pts

EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP - after round 3 of 4
1. Victory 1 – 49pts 2. Victory 7 – 39pts 3. Jotun 90 – 34pts 4. Qatar 96 – 32pts 5. Qatar 95 – 31pts 6. Foresti & Suardi 8 – 19pts 7. Roscioli Hotels Roma 88 – 8pts
SeveneleveN 18 – 0pts Qatar 9 – 0pts

EDOX POLE POSITION CHAMPIONSHIP – after round 4 of 8
1. Victory 1 – 55pts 2. Qatar 96 – 47pts 3. Jotun 90 – 36pts 4. Qatar 95 – 28pts 5. Victory 7 – 20pts 6. Foresti & Suardi 8 – 11pts 7. SeveneleveN 18 – 10pts 8. Negotiator 50 – 7pts 9= White 4 – 5pts 9= Qatar 9 – 5pts 11. Roscioli Hotels Roma 88 – 2pts

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Qatar 96. Photo: Raffaello Bastiani ©
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