Sail-World.com : Class 1 Powerboat Norwegian Grand Prix 2011 preview
Class 1 Powerboat Norwegian Grand Prix 2011 preview
BMW Norwegian Grand Prix 2011 is round two of the UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship and is being held in Arendal, Norway from 15th to 17th July.
Victory’s Arif Al Zafeen and Nadir bin Hendi will be the target and team to beat at this weekend’s Grand Prix.
The defending World Champions lead the points table after taking maximum points at the season-opener in Abu Dhabi, and will be intent on adding to their 23 career wins and maintaining the team’s enviable record in Arendal, where they have won eight times from 14 starts – winning both races last year.
Ten boats will line up for the 14th Grand Prix in Arendal since 1994, and the tens-of-thousands of partisan spectators who are expected to turn out for what is considered one of the great events and race circuits on the Class 1 tour, will be baying for a Norwegian win.
The fight for Norwegian supremacy and a win on home waters is between Welmax and Relekta; Jorn Tandberg and Christian Zaborowski won in Arendal in 2006, but nowadays line up in opposing teams, Tandberg winning again in 2008, the year he clinched the European title.
Tandberg partners Kolbjorn Selmer in the Mercury V8-powered Welmax, the all-Norwegian partnership enjoying considerable success since pairing in Arendal in 2009, taking ten podium finishes from 21 starts and six wins in pole position, five of them last year to win the Edox Pole Position Championship.
Team owner Tandberg has also confirmed they will run a second boat, ferskfisken.no - the Maritimo-designed and built hull that they ran as Welmax Alianza in Brazil last year - and will announce their driver pairing this week.
After a promising and then rather spectacular start to the year for Relekta’s Ugur Isik and Christian Zaborowski, posting fifth quickest in qualifying then crashing out in race one, Zabo Racing has upped the stakes in its bid for silverware, buying the championship-winning hull, Fazza, from Victory Team.
The team has enjoyed a roller-coaster ride since its launch at the Norwegian Grand Prix last season, grabbing its first podium in Abu Dhabi last year and there is now an air of excitement within the team that they have the complete package to step up their title challenge.
Fendi Racing also fields a new boat whilst Austrian-based DAC Racing roll-out a cut-down version of their Tencara.
Luca Formilli Fendi and Giovanni Carpitella will unveil their new Outerlimits boat-engine package; their decision to run with the Outerlimits hull and twin 850 SC Outerlimits Powertrain engines sees the American high-performance boat manufacturer making its debut in the UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship.
Fendi and Carpitella teamed-up in Class 1 last season and have taken two podium finishes in six starts, with Carpitella hoping they can at least repeat his three visits to the podium in Arendal last year.
DAC Racing’s Guido Cappellini is confident that the extreme modifications to his Tencara – cutting 120cm from the mid-section and reducing the overall weight by several hundred kilos – and upgrades to his Mercury engines, giving 50hp more per engine, will give him and throttleman, Giampaolo Montavoci, who starts his 100th race in Arendal, a real shot at competing at the front of the pack and challenging for race honours.
The team runs the restyled DAC 40 as kim.com for the first time in Arendal.
Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Steve Curtis will lead the Spirit of Qatar Team’s two-boat attack out onto the fjords, looking for the win that has so far eluded them in Class 1 since they joined forces in 2008.
And whilst they [Sheikh Hassan and Curtis] have enjoyed considerable success together, winning six times and lifting both national and world titles racing in America, they have had to settle for podium finishes - six - from their 12 starts in Class 1.
The team made an impressive return to the Championship earlier this year stepping onto the podium four times, Sheikh Hassan and Curtis grabbing two second places, with Matteo Nicolini aiming to keep the pressure on his teammates and build on his impressive performance with rookie driver Ali Al Neama, finishing third-quickest in qualifying and third in race two - both outfits running Victory-built hulls with Skema V12 engines.
And whilst Curtis is the only member of the team and one of only five of this seasons’ 22 competitors to have won in Arendal - in 2002 with Bjorn Gjelsten - both Sheikh Hassan and Nicolini - albeit now in opposing boats - will be hoping for a repeat of previous successes on Norwegian fjords in Arendal this week, the pair winning in Oslo in 2004 and in Trondheim in 2005, the year they won the European Championship.
Team Abu Dhabi has announced a change in their line-up, bringing in Emirati Majed Al Monsoori to partner wheelman, Rashed Al Tayer. Both are experienced racers; Al Tayer already a triple race-winner in Class 1 in just his second season, whilst Monsoori has come up through the ranks from Jet Ski competition and single-seater circuit racing. The duo also competes together in the XCat series and may well be a force to be reckoned with.
Chris Parsonage Racing retains the same driver-pairing with Giorgio Manuzzi alongside Norwegian throttleman Pal Virik Nilsen. The former teammates at Maritimo Offshore have both enjoyed podium success in Arendal, Manuzzi getting second and third last year and a third, behind Nilsen, in 2009.
The Grand Prix weekend gets underway with first practice on Friday afternoon. A second practice on Saturday afternoon is immediately followed by qualifying in the Edox Pole Position and race one, with a final practice session and race two on Sunday.
1. 3 Victory Team - 40pts
2. 96 Spirit of Qatar - 30pts
3= 10 Fendi Racing - 19pts
3= 95 Spirit of Qatar - 19pts
5. 5 Team Abu Dhabi - 18pts
6. 74 Poliform - 10pts
7. 50 Parsonage Racing - 8pts
8. 18 MITI - 4pts
9. 90 Welmax - 3pts
10. 91 Relekta - 2pt
BMW Norwegian Grand Prix, Arendal:
Friday 15th July
15.00-16.30 official practice
Saturday 16th July
12.30-13.00 official practice
13.15-14.00 Edox Pole Position
17.00 BMW Norwegian Grand Prix - race one (8 laps – 52.45Nm)
Sunday 17th July
11.00-12.00 official practice
14.30 BMW Norwegian Grand Prix - race two (11 laps – 72.36Nm)
UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship website
by Nigel Quilter
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8:48 AM Wed 13 Jul 2011 GMT
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