Victory 1's Mohammed Al Marri and Nadir Bin Hendi will start tomorrow's Romanian Grand Prix and their final push for the European title from first place after qualifying fastest in today's Edox Pole Position, which produced a nail-biting final five minutes with the top four boats trading times and positions and separated by less than a second at the end of the session.
The Championship leaders saw their opening time of 2m 50.59s immediately bettered by both Qatar outfits with Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Steve Curtis setting the early pace with 2m 47.26s in Qatar 96. Victory 1 went again, shaving tenths off their time to move into second spot, and then produced the quickest time of the afternoon, 2m 46.26s on their third run to take their third Edox Pole Position win of the season. 'To get pole position for the race is very important for us. It gives us confidence. We pushed hard today, we know where the limits are,' said Bin Hendi. 'Tomorrow we plan to look at making adjustments and I am sure we can improve.'
Jotun's Inge Brigt Aarbakke and Jorn Tandberg once again left it until late in the session before producing their best time. After three runs the Norwegian crew were down in fifth place, but then produced a stunning final lap to go second quickest, missing out on the pole by less than six-tenths of a second, posting a time of 2m 46.92s. 'To win the pole today would have been a bonus,' said Aarbakke. 'There is a lot of pressure on us now as there is a lot of expectation, but to finish second quickest for the third qualifying session in a row is very good. We tried different lines on our opening laps and they didn't work. But on the last lap we found the right line and improved our time by four seconds.'
With the clock counting down and after first seeing Victory 1 take the provisional pole, and then Jotun relegate them to third place, Qatar 96 had to go again. But after a poor third run, Al-Thani and Curtis were unable to make a much needed pit stop to change set-up and were unable to improve on their best time of 2m 46.95s, and had to settle for third place. 'It's a little frustrating, but with the boat we have it's about as good as we could do,' said Curtis. 'Sheikh Hassan drove great all afternoon, but the boat just steps out on the turns. It's like trying to drift a car round a corner but without any control.'
Qatar 95's Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Matteo Nicolini produced an impressive showing, running the Sterling V8s in qualifying for the first time to go fourth quickest, less than a second off the pole time and ahead of Victory 7.
After struggling in earlier practice sessions, Foresti & Suardi's Giampaolo Montavoci and Kolbjorn Selmer were able to string together a series of solid laps, improving their times on each to post the sixth fastest time of the afternoon. Giorgio Manuzzi and Nicola Giorgi in SeveneleveN also improved on their earlier practice times, with Domenico Cirilli and Sergio Carrasco frustrated by a steering problem that halted their qualifying session after two laps. EDOX POLE POSITION RESULT
1. Victory 1 - M Al Marri (UAE) / N Bin Hendi (UAE) - 02.46,26
2. Jotun 90 - IB Aarbakke (Norway) / J Tandberg (Norway) - 02.46,92
3. Qatar 96 - H Al-Thani (Qatar) / S Curtis (England) - 02.46,95
4. Qatar 95 - A Al-Sulaiti (Qatar) / M Nicolini (Italy) - 02.47,11
5. Victory 7 - A Al Mehairbi (UAE) / JM Sanchez (France) - 02.48,28
6. Foresti & Suardi 8 - K Selmer (Norway) / G Montavoci (Italy) - 03.00,28
7. SeveneleveN 18 - G Manuzzi (Italy) / N Giorgi (Italy) - 03.01,50
8. Roscioli Hotels Roma 88 - S Carrasco (Spain) / D Cirilli (Spain) - 03.16,53 EDOX POLE POSITION CHAMPIONSHIP - after round 5 of 8
1. Victory 1 - 75pts, 2. Qatar 96 - 59pts, 3. Jotun 90 - 51pts, 4. Qatar 95 - 37pts
5. Victory 7 - 27pts, 6. Foresti & Suardi 8 - 16pts, 7. SeveneleveN 18- 14pts
8. Negotiator 50 - 7pts, 9= Qatar 9 - 5pts, 9= Roscioli Hotels Roma 88 - 2pts
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