Victory Team UAE rehearsals before the competition in Moscow 4K
#satcamcomAl-Marri and Nadir Bin Hendi in this weekend’s BMW Norwegian Grand Prix in Arendal, round four of Class 1 World Powerboat Championship, would secure the Dubai pairing their first European Championship title – and a sixth for the Victory Team. The Victory Team has an impressive record in Arendal – winning six out of the 11 races held since 1994 – and with Victory 1 unbeaten this season, on present form, Al-Marri, and Bin Hendi appear to be unstoppable, and with a 24-point advantage over their team-mates in Victory 7, Jean-Marc Sanchez, the defending World and European Champion, and Abdullah Al Mehairbi, they look all set to add their names to the trophy. However, should Victory 7 take the win, the battle for the European crown will go down to the wire and be decided in the Romanian Grand Prix in Constanta-Mamaia in August. For the Qatar Team, it seems that whatever they do, Victory can match or better it – and Matteo Nicolini and Abdullah Al-Sulaiti, lying in third place in Qatar 95 and Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis, in Qatar 96 in fourth, know that they will have to produce something extraordinary from somewhere, or else hope that the Championship leaders have a problem if they are to reduce the points gap in the title race. But Norwegian waters have, in the past, proved a successful hunting ground for the Qatar Team – Sheikh Hassan and Nicolini winning in Oslo in 2004 and Trondheim in 2005, and with Curtis, a six-time winner in Norway – winning in Arendal in 2001 – this could be the weekend that Qatar ends Victory’s winning streak. Proving to be one of the most solid and reliable outfits this season is that of the Italian, Giampaolo Montavoci and the Norwegian, Kolbjorn Selmer in Foresti & Suardi, who have carved out three well-earned fifth-place finishes and in the fifth spot, are currently the highest-placed European team. But Norwegian hopes for a repeat ‘home win’ – last enjoyed in 2006 by what is a fervently partisan following in Arendal – rest firmly on the shoulders of Jotun’s Jorn Tandberg and Inge Brigt Aarbakke. Tandberg and Aarbakke showed real pace in Moscow – going second quickest in qualifying and but for a broken propeller, would certainly have challenged the front runners – and have upped the stakes to be real podium challengers. Roscioli Hotels Roma’s all-Spanish pairing of Domenico Cirilli and Sergio Carrasco faced a race against time to repair their boat and be ready to start this weekend, after a harrowing moment during the last race, when they lost control as their steering broke coming off their long-lap and, unable to steer, they hit the dock, damaging the front left sponson. Nicola Giorgi and Giorgio Manuzzi will be desperate to get SeveneleveN back in the points after two frustrating races. After a solid performance in qualifying in Moscow, an engine problem during the race with SeveneleveN running in fifth place ended what looked like being their best performance of the season. The new Nicolini-designed and built race boat, Qatar 9, will get only its second outing in Arendal, with Mohammed Al Nassr and Luca Nicolini hoping for better luck than in Moscow, where a broken propeller cut short their race on lap one after they had impressed during all practice sessions and in qualifying on their debut in Moscow. This weekend also sees the return to Class 1 action for Tom Barry-Cotter and Pal Virik Nilsen, given a wild card entry by the Championship Organisers. Last season’s youngest pairing – who this year lifted the Australian Offshore Superboat Championship, winning four out of six races – will step back into the Mercury Class 1-powered Tencara they raced last year, and run under the colors of Maritimo Offshore. For all the teams the biggest challenge of the weekend will be to master the demanding 5.65Nm circuit – run on Tromoysund and Galtesund (fjords) – with its fast sweeping turns, narrow straights lined with rocky outcrops and islands, providing a stern test of the pilot’s skill and nerve over the 17 laps, 96.70Nm race.