Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Steve Curtis escaped unhurt from a spectacular high-speed crash during an official qualifying session for Saturday’s Qatar Grand Prix, round 1 of the Class 1 World Powerboat Championship.
The crash, which destroyed their raceboat, happened halfway through the session with Sheikh Hassan and Curtis’ on the final turn on their second run and pushing to try to regain the provisional pole from main rivals Victory 1. 'It’s a tough corner and the wind makes it very difficult. We had to push hard because we knew we were down on the split time,' said Curtis. 'We were halfway through the corner, the front end lifted and she went over.'
The team now faces a race against time to prepare the spare boat for Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis, who can still line up in second place on the start-line ahead of team-mates Matteo Nicolini and Abdullah Al-Sulaiti in Qatar 95, after setting the second best time in qualifying on their opening lap.
But ahead of them will be Victory 1’s Arif Al Zafeen and Nadir bin Hendi, who made the best possible start to their new partnership and the defence of the teams World title, setting the fastest time on their third lap to start the Qatar Grand Prix in Pole Position. 'Obviously I’m very happy with the first place as it means Nadir and I are working well together,' said Al Zafeen, who claimed the Class 1 title in his rookie season in 2007. 'The result gives us a lot of confidence and means we will really push for first place in the race tomorrow. We tried three different set ups to get this result and the winning time shows that we’ve definitely found the right one.'
After missing out on both practice sessions because of technical problems, Jotun’s all-Norwegian pairing of Jorn Tandberg and Bjorge Jacobsen produced a strong showing and a much deserved reward for the team, going fourth fastest in Jotun, ahead of Negotiator’s Chris Parsonage and Bard Eker, with Luca Nicolini and Mohammed Al Nasser in White4, completing the top six. EDOX POLE POSITION – round 1
1. Victory 1 – A Al Zafeen (UAE) / N Bin Hendi (UAE) – 2m 35.95s
2. Qatar 96 - H Al-Thani (Qatar) / S Curtis (England) – 2m 36.25s
3. Qatar 95 - A Al-Sulaiti (Qatar) / Matteo Nicolini (Italy) – 2m 37.54s
4. Jotun 90 - B Jacobsen (Norway) / J Tandberg (Norway) – 2m37.78s
5. Negotiator 50 - B Eker (Norway) / C Parsonage (England) – 2m 38.01
6. White 4 – M Al Nasser (Qatar) / L Nicolini (Italy) – 2m 43. 57s
7. Victory 7 – A Al Mehairbi (UAE) / JM Sanchez (France) – 2m 43.85s
8. Foresti & Suardi 8 – K Selmer (Norway) / G Montavoci (Italy) – 2m 58.09s
9. SeveneleveN 18- G Manuzzi (Italy) / N Giorgi (Italy) – 3m 01.81s www.class-1.com