The Pearl of Qatar Grand Prix, the opening round of the UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship, is taking place from 14 to 17 March in Doha.
A dramatic morning’s free practice session saw Welmax and FA.RO ACCIAI’s Grand Prix come to a premature end, with Welmax crashing out and fire engulfing FA.RO ACCIAI - all four crew members emerging unscathed.
Welmax’s Brazilian driver Paul Gaiser, back racing in Class 1 for the first time in two years, and Norwegian throttleman Bjorge Jacobsen were on their first lap and at the furthest point of the 8.44nm Grand Prix circuit coming into turn buoy D when they rolled over, both drivers emerging from the upturned hull via the escape hatch. 'Paul and BJ were a little unclear why it happened. It seems that the back end lifted as they came into the turn, the boat hooked and then she went over.' said team manager Per Carsten Michelsen. '
Later into the session and at the other end of the circuit, Massimo Roggiero and Pal Virik Nilsen were starting a timed lap when FA.RO ACCIAI suddenly slowed. Moments later flames and smoke were seen billowing from the right engine bay.
'Everything seemed to be okay and we were just starting the lap when I noticed that the oil pressure was falling dramatically,' said Norwegian Pal Virik Nilsen. 'I stopped and checked the data and called my crew chief. Suddenly Massimo said I smell smoke. I looked in his mirror and saw flames coming from the hatch. I went for the fire extinguisher but there was nothing we could do. We had over 300 litres of fuel on board so we both leapt for the safety of the water. The boat is a real mess.'
Class One website
by Nigel Quilter
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12:04 PM Thu 15 Mar 2012GMT
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