Both Poret and Menard produced convincing wins, but it was Botti who stole the show on his return to the UIM-ABP tour, winning a thriller in Runabout to edge out a strong challenge from a clutch of Middle East riders with four finishing in the top six.
Starting from P2 of 25 the rider from Porto Vecchio in Corsica gave chase to race leader Mohamad Burbayae and at the same time held off a strong challenge from pole-sitter Yousef Al Abdulrazzaq for the opening laps.
On lap 7 of 15 Botti grabbed the advantage to steal past Burbayae but for the remainder of the race could not break the Kuwaiti’s challenge, but valiantly held him off to win on his debut outing in Runabout in the Championship. “I have raced Mohamad before and I know he is very quick. But I made a good start and gradually was able to close the gap and pass him. I hope to be able to repeat the win tomorrow.”
Pole-sitter Yousef Al Abdulrazzaq will be relieved to have finally broken his Qatar jinx, ending his five race points’ drought with a solid drive to third place.
Behind the lead trio there were several close battles amongst the chasing pack; Khalifa Belselah winning a titanic battle with Thamer Al Darwish and Jeremy Perez stealing past Gyorgy Kasza on lap 13 to take sixth place.
Francois Medori, Didier Chabert and Teddy Pons completed the top ten, Pons dropping from eighth after receiving a post-race one lap penalty.
Fifteen riders lined up in Ski with defending World Champion Jeremy Poret making the perfect start to his title defence, taking his sixth victory in Doha with a convincing win in heat 1.
Leading the front line of five and starting from pole, the 26-year-old from St Maximin in France seemed slow off the start and trailed the early race leader Nacho Armillas for the opening laps before making the telling pass on lap 5 .
Once out front Poret was able to dictate the pace of the race, going on complete the 10 laps to win by 1.9 seconds. “The start was a little crazy with many riders not respecting the procedure and I lost position,” said Poret. “When I saw Kevin [Reiterer] coming up in third I knew I had to get passed Armillas and start to push. After that it was good for me.”
Despite a strong start Armillas was unable to stay with the pace of the race leader but was unchallenged to come home in second place.
Austria’s Kevin Reiterer produced one of the performances of the afternoon and despite being somewhat handicapped running a borrowed and less powerful bike moved up from ninth at the end of lap 1 to finish in an impressive third place.
Alex Barret delivered a solid performance finishing in fourth ahead of Alberto Monti who moved up from tenth and passing Stian Schjetlien on the penultimate lap to take fifth.
It was a mixed afternoon for Morgan and Mickael Poret running their new OHC-Yamaha set up, Morgan stopping after a strong start and running in third for the opening laps, Mickael coming in in ninth behind Vincent Dardillat and Tomaz Kete, Brock Austin squeezing into the top ten on his UIM-ABP debut.
Jennifer Menard completed the perfect day in Ski Ladies and after topping the time sheets in both qualifying sessions and starting from pole, led from start-to finish to win by 4.57 seconds. “It was not so easy and I found it a bit difficult in the rougher parts of the course. But the bike was very good and tomorrow I hope for an easier win.”
But the World Champion didn’t have it all her own way and was pushed for all nine laps by 17 year-old Swede Emma-Nellie Ortendhal, who at the midway point had closed the gap to 1.5seconds, with Spain’s Sandra Fernandez finishing third ahead of newcomer Yuki Kurahashi, Jonna Borgstrom and Marta Sorrentino.
Both Kylie Ellmers and Estelle Poret were left with too much to do after being late out onto the circuit because of technical issues and giving their rivals a two lap start, eventually closing out the race in seventh and eighth.
After receiving a wake-up call in qualifying being beaten into second place by brother Nac, Rok Florjancic resumed normal service in Freestyle to win heat 1 and keep his unbeaten record intact.
The Slovenian brothers matched each other for points in quantity of tricks, Nac edging it for variety and Rok in style to win by just two points, third place going to Qatar’s Fahad Al Hamli.