Cernobbio, Italy, September 21 (QNA) – His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Steve Curtis lost out on pole position for the Italian Grand Prix, round three of the 2012 UIM Class One World Powerboat Championship, in the dying seconds of a thrilling qualifying session on scenic Lake Como on Friday afternoon.
The Spirit of Qatar 96 crew became embroiled in a fascinating exchange of lap times with Victory 3’s Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Mohammed Al-Marri and had one hand on the prestigious pole position after their third lap of 2min 39.61sec, which was six-tenths of a second quicker than the Emirati duo had set minutes earlier. But the Victory duo took to the circuit again in the closing seconds and a tour of 2min 38.03sec was sufficient to claim pole back from the Qatar duo, who had set the fastest time in the morning s practice session.
Qatar team-mates Ali Al-Neama and Matteo Nicolini recorded a best lap of 2min 46.20sec in Spirit of Qatar 95 during the Edox Pole Position on Friday afternoon and will start the first of the two races on Saturday afternoon from fifth position. Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Tayer and Majed Al-Mansoori qualified in third place.
Warm and cloudy conditions greeted the eight boats to Lake Como for the start of the Edox Pole Position on Friday afternoon. Sheikh Hassan had said beforehand that getting to the first turn buoy would be crucial in the race, following modifications to the course, and it was imperative that the Spirit of Qatar boats qualified well.
Spirit of Qatar 96 made a good start and the first two laps resulted in provisional pole with a quickest tour of 2min 40.82secec, but that was eclipsed on the half-hour mark by Victory 3’s third lap of 2min 40.21s. Team Abu Dhabi slotted into third with a lap of 2min 45.00sec and Spirit of Qatar 95 were classified in fifth after their first two laps.
But Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis produced a stunning third lap of 2min 39.61sec to snatch back provisional pole position from their Emirati rivals. Spirit of Qatar 95 ran a further two laps near the end of the session, but remained in fifth place with a best lap of 2min 46.20sec. But Sheikh Hassan could only watch as Victory 3 edged inside his time in the closing seconds of the session to steal pole position.
Victory 3 posted the early target lap of 2min 39.13sec in the opening 90-minute practice session, with Spirit of Qatar 96 running the Dubai boat close with a second lap of 2min 40.44sec. Fendi Racing recorded a best of 2min 46.69sec during their five laps on the water at the start of the session and Spirit of Qatar 95’s return to the series was marked by a 2min 47.14sec tour of the Lake Como course on the fourth of their opening five laps.
Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis took to the water again in the second half of the session and posted quicker laps of 2min 39.73sec and 2min 39.36sec to edge within just 0.23sec of the Victory 3 time. But Sheikh Hassan was not to be denied and two stunning laps of 2min 37.76sec and 2min 38.97sec near the end were sufficient to win the practice session. Al-Neama and Nicolini improved with a lap of 2m 45.72s to confirm fifth place.
The first of the two weekend races starts at 14.30hrs (15.30hrs Doha time) on Saturday afternoon, following a second practice session on the Lake Como course. A third practice on Sunday morning precedes the second of the Italian Grand Prix races from 14.30hrs on Sunday afternoon. (QNA)