UAE. UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Mina Seyahi Grand Prix: Dubai set for nail biting finale

Friday, 17 November 2006

After six races and a compelling season's racing, the final throws of the dice to decide the 2006 UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship rests with two races in a week in Dubai (the Mina Seyahi Grand Prix, Saturday, 25 November and the Dubai Grand Prix, Saturday, 2 December) and the stage is set for a nail-biting finale.  And not for the first time it is the sport's two most successful teams, who, after another season-long tussle go head-to-head for the most coveted prize in world powerboat racing - the Sam Griffith Trophy.

Spirit of Norway lifted their fourth European title at the Slovenian Grand Prix in Portorose in September, and head to Dubai as championship leaders with a 14-point advantage over rivals Victory 77, as they go in search of an unprecedented fifth consecutive world title.  For Victory 77 the mathematics are simple, they know that if they are to end their team's world title drought, they simply have to finish ahead of Spirit of Norway in both races, and with teams between them, in order to snatch the crown from the defending champions.

However, with 40 points still on offer, both Jotun and Qatar 95 - 30 and 31 points off the lead - are still in with an outside shot at the title should a calamity befall either of the front runners.  The Norwegian and Qatari outfits head the Mercury challengers and are on course for their best championship finishes and both have grabbed a win this season.  Also on course for a strong finish, is Foresti&Suardi-Roscioli Hotels who will be looking to add to their Pole Position win in Spain and two podiums.

What may affect the race for the world title is the battle for the Middle East Championship, which is a far more open affair with 15.5 points separating the top six.  Qatar 96's world title aspirations may be over, but they can turn their season around by winning the Middle East title, which they lead from their old and fiercest adversary, Spirit of Norway, by two points and their team-mates by four points.  Their determination to end the year on a high and with a title may well mean they take points away from Spirit and Victory 77.

Victory 7's new pairing will be looking to round off a very solid first season together, scoring points in all but one race and with a first podium in Plymouth.  Both Ceramiche Flaminia and SeveneleveN have endured a mixed year with reliability issues and will be looking for finishes and more points in Dubai.  What looked like being a promising season for King of Shaves has been marred by bad luck and a spectacular crash in Plymouth that kept them out of action for the last race.  They return with a rebuilt boat and a podium as their target.

So the 2006 season showdown is a repeat of 2005 - Spirit of Norway has one hand on the trophy and Victory 77 has it all to do.  But 2006 has seen four different race and pole position winners with seven outfits grabbing podium honours - so anything is possible in the final two races.

Race distance: 18 laps, 97.75Nm
Start lap 5.33Nm + 16 x 5.25Nm laps + 1 x Long lap 8.42 Nm
First held: 1992
2005 Dubai Grand Prix winners: M Al Marri/JM Sanchez - Victory 77
2005 Mina Seyahi Grand Prix winners: B Eker/S Curtis - Spirit of Norway

CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS - after rounds 6 of 8
1. Spirit of Norway - Gjelsten (NOR)/Curtis (GB)  95pts
2. Victory 77 - Al Marri (UAE)/Sanchez (FR)  81pts
3. Jotun - Tandberg (NOR)/Zaborowski (NOR)  65pts
4. Qatar 95 - Al Sulaiti (QAT)/Di Biase (ITA)  64pts
5. Foresti & Suardi-Roscioli Hotels - Montavoci (ITA)/Cirilli (ESP)  56pts
6. Qatar 96 - Al Thani (QAT)/Nicolini (ITA)  55pts
7. Victory 7 - Hendi (UAE)/Al Suwaidi (UAE)  42pts
8. Ceramiche Flaminia - Chillocci (ITA)/Leppala (ITA)  27pts
9. King of Shaves - Parsonage (GB)/Sheppard (GB)  22pts
10. SeveneleveN - Giorgi (ITA)/Nilsen (NOR) 15pts
(Championship points include bonus points allocated to teams running engines for two consecutive races - one point, per engine, per race)
Nigel Quilter:

Last Updated ( Friday, 17 November 2006 )