BOTTI SNATCHES DRAMATIC POLE ON LAST LAP IN RUNABOUT
Story & Photos: Aquabike Press
* Jeremy Poret quickest in Ski by just three-tenths
* Menard and Ortendahl set identical times
Friday, 22 May, CASTRO (Italy): French trio Jean Baptiste Botti, Jeremy Poret and Jennifer Menard completed a clean sweep in a fiercely contest qualifying session in rough conditions in Castro to claim pole positions for heat 1 of the Grand Prix of Italy.
After being tested to their limits in the morning’s free practice session run in horrendous seas, the conditions eased giving the riders some respite as they went out for a split qualifying session, all riders going in Q1 for 15 minutes, the ten quickest going again in Q2, a shortened 10 minute session, in Ski ladies just the top five going into Q2.
The fight for the pole in Runabout was fought out between Botti, Khalifa Belselah and Yousef Al Abdulrazzaq, the trio trading times and places throughout.
All eased through Q1 and it looked as though Belselah had done enough to take pole, but Botti wasn’t done and left it till literally the last second in Q2 to snatch pole position from the UAE rider, with Kuwait’s Al Abdulrazzaq, who was quickest in practice, having to settle for third.
The rider from Porto Vecchio was lying in second spot with the clock counting down and on his final flying lap when the flag to end the session came out, but he [Botti] gave it all he had crossing the line five-tenths faster than Belselah with a 1:41.41s lap and will start heat 1 of Runabout in P1. “That was a little too tight,” said Karujet winner Botti. “The conditions were a little easier on all of us this afternoon and tomorrow who knows. But it will be a good fight. There are many great riders out there.”
In Ski defending World Champion Jeremy Poret came out on top in an equally close session, his best time of 1:59.70s set on his first lap in Q2 was enough to beat off the challenge of Kevin Reiterer by three-tenths, with elder brother Mickael third fastest. “I found practice quite tough the conditions were very hard,” said Poret. “I worked on the bike a little too try to improve one or two things and in qualifying the conditions were better and this suited me. Tomorrow the weather will play a big part but if it is the same it will suit me.”
But it was Jennifer Menard and Emma Nellie Ortendahl who upstaged their male peers in terms of a tight qualifying session, both setting identical fastest times, 2:16.72s, Menard given the pole with a fastest best second lap, Estelle Poret nearly snatching pole from both at the last minute, completing the top three less than two-tenths of top spot. “It is almost impossible but it happened. A bit too close,” said Menard. “Today has been crazy, incredible conditions, very rough big waves and waves on waves. In these seas it is not about the engine it is about technique.”
The Freestylers rounded off the afternoon with Rok Florjancic looking to be in the mood to avenge the defeat he suffered at the hands of his younger brother in Qatar, scoring 87 out of 100 to take top spot, Nac in second on 78 ahead of Italian duo, Roberto Mariani and Alberto Camerlengo.
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