STRESA (Italy): The Class 1 European Powerboat Championship will be on the line for three teams when the Italian Grand Prix is staged on the waters of Lake Maggiore in Stresa tomorrow and Sunday (October 2-3).
Italian Giovanni Carpitella leads the European standings and will aiming to land the first Class 1 title for Italy in five years when he pairs up with new partner Chris Parsonage of the UK.
Twelve points behind Carpitella, world champions Nader Bin Hendi and Arif Al Zafeen in Fazza will be desperate to leapfrog the Italian after the disappointment of the previous race in Sweden.
Despite apparently winning in Uddevalla, Al Zafeen and Bin Hendi were subsequently penalised for an alleged racing infringement leaving Carpitella and Rashed Al Tayer in Team Abu Dhabi to take the race win. That drop from first to second is still being protested by the Fazza racers and they will be desperate to bounce back with a win on the water in race one tomorrow (Sat).
Also still in with an outside chance of winning the European crown are Abdullah Al Mehairbi and Talib Al Sayed in Skydive Dubai who sit seven points behind Fazza but with 40 points still available in the last remaining European race weekend of the season.
Carpitella’s last throw of the dice to become European champion will be aided by Parsonage, making his first Class 1 appearance of the year in Stresa as Carpitella takes his throttling duties – and the racing points he has won in Norway and Sweden – from Team Abu Dhabi to Parsonage’s Negotiator team.
While the loss of Carpitella’s talents is significant, Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al Tayer has recruited a more than capable replacement in former world champion throttleman John Tomlinson of the USA and all eyes will be on Al Tayer – still in his Class One rookie season – and the man who throttled Laith Pharaon to the world title in 1997.
Last year’s European Championship was won by Victory Team’s Jean Marc Sanchez and Mohammed Al Mehairi and Bin Hendi and Al Zafeen will be going all out to retain the title for the Victory stable.
“We totally disagree with the time penalty we received in Sweden and our protest will be heard this weekend in Stresa,” said Bin Hendi. “But even if the decision is overturned and goes in our favour, we know we need to win both races to have any chance of winning the championship no matter what Carpitella does.”
The action gets underway today (Friday) with a practice session on the stunning Lake Maggiore just 70km outside of Milan. Some eight crews have gathered for the last two races on European waters before the series switches to the final events on the World Championship calendar in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
European Championship Standings – Two races remaining
1. Negotiator – Parsonage/Carpitella (UK/I) 67pts
2. Fazza – Bin Hendi/Al Zafeen (UAE) 55pts
3. Skydive Dubai – Al Sayed/Al Mehairbi (UAE) 48pts
Caption: High-flying Fazza – the boat of Nader Bin Hendi and Arif Al Zafeen will be one of two carrying UAE hopes in the battle for the Class 1 European Championship in Italy
For further information: Alan Ewens, Victory Team Media Manager. Tel: +97150 4514188. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org