Gulf Sport Edition 7
 
 

We are currently right in the middle of what is probably Gulf’s busiest time of the sporting year. Every major sporting partnership we have is now engaged in competitive action and, in some cases, the month we have had and the month to come will see the climax of a season and honours (hopefully) being won…

The World Endurance Championship is now well underway with Gulf Racing, and the first round, at Silverstone, features in this issue together with a preview to Spa’s upcoming round.

Our two World Superbike partners were in action last weekend at Assen in the Netherlands with two further races during May. Ten-time European Drag Racing Champion, Ian King has also now kicked off his final season in Top Fuel Motorcycles.

Over in Asia, the Indian Premier League season is in full swing and Gulf Brand Ambassador, MS Dhoni and England star, Ben Stokes pulled out two of the season's outstanding performances to boost Rising Pune Supergiant’s chances of progressing to the knockout stages of the competition.

Meanwhile, as English football enters the final month of the 2016/17 season Manchester United’s run in the Europa League continues as does their push for one of the top four places in the English Premier League.

The above picture harks back to the launch of our partnership with Manchester United just over a year ago. It was a groundbreaking deal at the time and one that, it is interesting to note, has now been copied by others in our sector. It is Gulf’s biggest sporting partnership ever and as a look through this edition of Gulf Sport will demonstrate, Gulf businesses have been quick to seize on the opportunities that our tie-up with the world’s number one Football brand brings with it.

Around the world of Gulf, our partnerships continue to inspire great activation and excellent sales promotions, which of course, is the reason they exist. Manchester United will attest to the fact that Gulf have already worked the partnership harder, since the partnership was launched, than just about any other partner company. Ultimately, however, it is critical that not only do we continue to use the opportunities on offer – from all of our partnerships – but that we are able to convert these opportunities into new or increased business to help speed us down the road to 2020.

Wishing you good business in the sporting months ahead.

 
 
 

IN THIS EDITION

Manchester United go marching on
Behind the scenes with Tony Sinclair
From China to Old Trafford
Gulf Bikes charge towards the front
WEC off to a solid start
Gulf Bike faces tough US challenge
Supergiant's season comes alive
Around the Gulf World of Sport

 
 
 

AND THE REDS

GO MARCHING ON

 
 

Gulf’s sporting partners, Manchester United have made good progress over the last few weeks.

It has been an extremely busy month, with at least two games every week and it is a difficult stage of the season. Mounting injuries to key players – Zlatan Ibrahimovic picking up an injury in mid month that ruled him out for the remainder of the campaign, for instance – together with some player suspensions. This has stretched Jose Mourinho’s squad and players to their limits, but so far they have proved up to the task.

The team won a very tight two-leg Europa League Quarter Final against Belgian Club Anderlecht, drawing the first leg, 1-1 away from home and then winning 2-1 back at Old Trafford after the game went to extra time. The winner was a superb goal from Marcus Rashford to follow on from Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s goal in the normal run of play.

In the draw for the semi-final United drew Spanish side, Celta Vigo.

 
 

In the Premier League, United have continued their run of good form, drawing with West Brom and Everton, before taking wins over Sunderland, over the current league leaders Chelsea and over Burnley.

United then fought for an extremely hard earned draw away at local rivals Manchester City. This made it an incredible 24 games unbeaten - and keeps United’s hopes of finishing in the top four very much alive, as the season heads into its final month.

Manager Jose Mourinho praised the resilience of his team after the tough local derby match. “Today we showed exactly that against a good team, against a strong team that wanted to win the match at home. To play a big match like this one shows the way we did it, shows resilience, shows a big character from the players. This point could be a very big one for us.”

The month of May will determine how United’s season plays out and a 1-1 draw at home to Swansea City was not the ideal start to this crucial month, but it kept United’s amazing unbeaten run intact and Jose Mourinho was able to rest some key players before the vital match away to Celta Vigo in the Europa League Semi Final, from which United came away with a very useful one goal lead that was courtesy of a long range free kick in the second half by Marcus Rashford.

The return leg comes next week at Old Trafford and, sandwiched in between the two European matches, is a Premier League game away at fellow Champions League hopefuls, Arsenal.

After the deciding European game, United face a trip to current second placed EPL team, Tottenham Hotspur. So, the end of season run in is by no means easy but if United’s run of form continues the team could yet see further success, in addition to its EFL League Cup triumph in March.

 
 
 

MANCHESTER UNITED FIXTURES

 
 
 

EUROPA LEAGUE

 

Manchester United vs Celta Vigo - Balaídos Stadium - May 11th

 
 

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

 

Arsenal vs Manchester United - Emirates Stadium - May 7th

Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester United - White Hart Lane - May 14th

Southampton vs Manchester United - St Mary's Stadium - May 17th

Manchester United vs Crystal Palace - Old Trafford - May 21st

 
 
 
 

BEHIND THE SCENES...

with Tony Sinclair

In this edition of Gulf Sport we talk to one of the key figures at Manchester United - someone who you will rarely see, but whose role is so important that without him the team would find it hard to even step onto the pitch: United’s Grounds Manager, Tony Sinclair.

We caught up with him the day after he and his team had won the highest accolade in their profession, for the second time in three years.

Q So it’s a good time to talk to you?

A Absolutely. I’m so proud of my team and the club has been fantastic, they’re immensely proud of what we’ve achieved as well.

Q What exactly does your role as Grounds Manager involve?

A I’m responsible for the stadium and the three training grounds – I have a team of 25 lads working under me and we can never really switch off. It’s not a 9-5 job, you’re constantly look at the weather. People always focus on the first team, but with the various sides United has, we have training every night across three of the sites – it’s a huge operation. People always tend to think only about the stadium but across the four sites we have to maintain 23 natural grass pitches.

Q Is a match day significantly different to a non-match day?

A Let’s take an example like the Swansea City match. A midday kick off – so around six of us will get into the stadium at around 06.00. We cut the pitch two ways – across and lengthways with the grass to a length of 24mm. Then we mark the pitch out and put in the corner flags and we hope to have everything in place by about 09.30. The reason we get it down so early is that we can give the lines about an hour to dry before we start irrigating the pitch.

We water the pitch because its what your team wants – and most teams do it – it makes the speed of the ball faster and creates that zippiness for quick passing.

We build up the moisture from 10.30 to 11.30 and the team will warm up. We’d irrigate again at half time so we keep the surface the players like.

After the match, we’d then go on with our mowers and vac the pitch up so that any little bobbles that the players had caused would be vacuumed up. Then we’d get the forks out to knock back the scars on the pitch. It’s all about attention to detail – that’s what Manchester United expect.

We’d probably leave about 17.00 – and in the winter, when we play under the lights it’s more like a 15 hour day.

Q How did you come to be at MUFC and how has your career there progressed?

A I started at this great club almost 26 years ago – straight from school on a work scheme placement and I’ve gone from that all the way through to Grounds Manager. It’s an absolute honour to be here, because people all over the world see our work. The club has been fantastic and always backed what we wanted to do with pitches.

Q How many machines are there in your ground maintenance fleet?

A We’ve got the latest, most specialised pieces of equipment - from six-gang mowers to strimmers. We have somewhere between 200 and 250 pieces of equipment across the four sites – and as soon as something has been used, it’s washed down, refueled, the oil is checked and the tyre pressures. The equipment is vital and I believe that if you don’t have the right tools to work with you don’t have anything.

Q What changes have you seen over your time at the club with regards to what you need for your job?

A The technology has changed dramatically and we have a choice of up to four machines - depending on the weather. We’ve worked with the manufacturers to develop new machines specially for the job.

There’s now a great deal of science in what we do with the pitches themselves – we take samples every week looking at Phosphate levels. We have artificial grow lights on the pitch from the middle of September to mid-March to stop the plants from becoming dormant. If a pitch looks fantastic and plays the same way, that’s because of all of the other work we constantly do on it.

Q Are you a Manchester United fan?

A Absolutely – and I’m sure that helps. I want them to win everything!

Q Who is / was your favourite player – and why?

A The best player I’ve seen in my time at United has been Cristiano Ronaldo – purely because of the impact he had in such a short period of time and my favourite player is Eric Cantona – to my mind they’re similar types of player.

Q What are your most memorable moments in the job?

A Seeing so many great players and also all of those last minute goals. I suppose, personally it is that over the past three or four years we have produced a really high level of football pitch and I am really pleased that the fantastic team of lads with me have been recognised – I just want to thank them all so much all for supporting me so well.

Q Finally - what do you do in your free time?

A I’ll be totally honest with you, this is my life. When I’m not actually at work, I’m thinking about how we are going to make the pitches better – it’s like a drug, it’s my passion and I love it and….. that’s me!

 
 

FROM CHINA TO

OLD TRAFFORD

 

Gulf Oil China (GOC) recently brought a party of VIPs over to the UK for a “trip of a lifetime” experience, centered around Gulf’s Manchester United Partnership.

Those making the trip were winners of a 6-month incentive campaign, called “Champion Tour” - which launched last September, together with a mixture of GOC’s best customers from the Retail, OEM and Industrial Oil channels, together with its own top sales people.

 
 

The first stop off point was the Gulf Oil International (UK) Office in London where VP Europe Camille Nehme, CFO Francois Celton, and VP Operations Tobias Tasche (pictured above) were among GOI staff who welcomed the visitors and ultimately presented them with Gulf-MU goodie bags in preparation for what was to come - and Frank Rutten, Vice President International, presented his best wishes via video.

The party then travelled, via the famous university town of Oxford, to Manchester, where they were treated to a full stadium tour of at Old Trafford, including, as can be seen, a chance to visit the players’ changing rooms – where personalised Manchester United tops awaited them on the same pegs that are usually reserved for Ibrahimovic, De Gea, Rooney and the rest of the team.

 
 

The visitors were also given the opportunity to get pitch-side at Manchester United’s legendary home ground, where the electronic advertising boards were lit up with Gulf messages.

The climax of the trip was the chance to see United take on Swansea in a crucial Premier League clash – watching proceedings, with full hospitality, from Gulf’s VIP seating at the stadium, in the company of several Manchester United Legends.

GOC will continue to launch and operate further incentive programs with Manchester United and WEC partnerships over this current financial year, so as to encourage premium product sales and value-selling during the period.

pennyqiu@gulfoilchina.com

 
 
 

GULF BIKES

CONTINUE THEIR CHARGE

TOWARDS THE FRONT

 

The World Superbike Championship (SBK) has returned to Europe and with it have come some excellent performances as the two Gulf-supported teams continue to make progress.

At the Spanish round at Aragon, Milwaukee Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori hadn’t recovered from his fall in Thailand and was substituted by Julian Simon who helped ensure that all of the four Gulf bikes scored points in the first race of the weekend – Althea BMW’s Jordi Torres finishing 6th and Eugene Laverty 8th on the Milwaukee Aprilia. Torres and Laverty both claimed top ten finishes in the second race of the weekend and Simon again came home in the points.

Last weekend Assen in the Netherlands was the scene for the fourth race meeting of the season and the disappointing news came from Althea BMW that rider Markus Reiterberger’s early season back injuries, which had undoubtedly hampered his performance up to that point, had ruled him out for the remainder of the season. His replacement is the team's development rider and current Superstock 1000 Champion, Italian Raffaele De Rosa.

Sixty Gulf guests, made the trip up to the north of Holland to what is called by the locals “The Cathedral of Speed” and they were treated to some thrilling racing with much to cheer on.

Savadori had returned and was on good form and it was only newcomer, De Rosa who didn’t make it straight through to final Superpole. The two Aprilias qualified 4th and 6th with Torres also qualifying inside the top 10.

Laverty (right), Torres and Savadori all disputed top five places throughout Race 1 and it was only a puncture on the final lap that stopped Torres from taking his second top five finish of the season, having raced up through the field after a poor start. His misfortune, however, meant that Savadori inherited the place and came home to give Gulf its second Top 5 finish of the year. Team-mate Eugene Lavery also secured a top 10 finish and De Rosa scored points in his first SBK race of the year in 13th.

Even better news came from the track as Gulf secured a major new client in the Netherlands at the meeting and Gulf guests had the prospect of an exciting second race, in which the Gulf-supported Aprilias would start from the first and second row and Torres from the fourth row.

Last year at Assen, guests had the chance to watch a Gulf bike head the field as Josh Brookes put in a magnificent performance on a drying track, before being forced to pit for fresh tyres. This year again, Gulf fans were treated to watching one of the teams’ bikes lead the race as Eugene Laverty moved up from fourth on the grid to lead the field in the early stages – the second time this season he has done so.

Eventually, as his tyres lost grip, Laverty was passed by World Champion Jonathan Rea’s Kawasaki and fell back into the pack, but again, almost all of the Gulf bikes ran comfortably inside the top ten. Lorenzo Savadori, came off his Milwaukee Aprilia towards the end of the race, fortunately without major mishap, while challenging for another top six place.

The ebullient Torres (pictured below) dropped to 15th at the start of the second race but, as on previous occasions, his race got stronger as it continued and he passed Eugene Laverty on the Aprilia in the run-up to the finish on the final lap, to secure 7th place., with Laverty finishing just behind him.

With a strong Italian link to both of the Gulf teams – Aprilia being an Italian manufacturer and Althea being based just outside Rome, the next race at Imola, in Northern Italy will guarantee a great deal of support for both squads and is a mouthwatering prospect for Gulf guests and Gulf motorbike fans in general.

 
 
 

MILWAUKEE APRILIA AND ALTHEA BMW FIXTURES

 
 
 

WORLD SUPERBIKES

 

Round Five - Imola, Italy - May 12th-14th

Round Six - Donington Park, UK - May 26th-28th

 
 

GULF RACING

OFF TO A SOLID START

 

The 2017 World Endurance Championship kicked off at its now traditional starting point, Silverstone, in the UK.

Gulf’s WEC partners, Gulf Racing, are based only a few kilometers from the Silverstone circuit in Milton Keynes, and some of the team even live in Silverstone village, so it is very much the home race for them in every sense of the word.

Gulf Racing is running the same Porsche 911 RSR GTE as it did last year. The team was, however, hoping for a better outcome than in 2016, when the Blue and Orange race car was taken out of the race through a foolhardy passing manoeuver by the then-leading Porsche LMP1 prototype.

 
 

A change in Ben Barker’s driver ranking from Silver to Gold (the sport governing body – the FIA – ranks drivers from Bronze to Platinum) over the winter meant that the team could not hold onto Adam Carroll as well as Ben (above right), so the Irishman’s place has been taken by Australian Porsche rising star, Nick Foster (above left), with Team Owner, Mike Wainwright (centre), completing the driver line up.

With Ben Barker behind the wheel, the Porsche proved itself to be on the GTE Am pace from the outset of first practice and, once the race started, ran in the top three throughout the first hour – leading for several laps. A podium finish was certainly a possibility until the car hit mechanical difficulties with just over an hour to run.

The team worked hard to get the #86 car back on track and, after a lengthy pit-stop, the Gulf car re-emerged back on the circuit and came home to the finish in fourth place, benefiting from a contretemps between two of the leading cars in the category coming together, which left one stranded out on the circuit. WEC regulations dictate that a car has to cross the finish line after the end of the race to be counted as a finisher - so even though the Ferrari in question had completed more laps, it was not classified.

The WEC moves to the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium on Saturday of this weekend. Nestled in the Ardennes forest in the South of the country, the Belgian track is always a favourite of the drivers, with long straights and corners of all types: slow medium and fast, many of which require a large amount of skill and bravery – as well as a car that is working and handling well – to be negotiated at anything like the optimum speed. The weather is also often a major factor, as Spa has its own micro-climate and can produce all four seasons in one day. Gulf Racing will hope that they can break the run of fourth places that started last year and finally break through for the podium finish to which they have been so tantalisingly close.

 
 

GULF RACING FIXTURES

 
 
 

WORLD ENDURANCE CHAMPIONSHIP

 

Round Two, 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps - Spa, Belgium - May 6th

Le Mans Official Test - Le Mans, France - June 4th

 
 

GULF BIKE FACING

TOUGH CHALLENGE IN USA

 

Ian King’s quest to take on the best of the American Top Fuel contenders has already proved that it will make for a tough and competitive season’s racing.

Ian returned to the site of his previous American triumph, Valdosta, Georgia in April, hoping to post further sub-six second runs on the Gulf Oil Dragracing motorbike and repeat his victory from 2014.

In qualifying, Ian set the second the fastest run and came up against fellow “MTC 5 Second Club” member, Dave Vantine in the first elimination round. Both bikes started well but then Ian’s bike lost traction and the rear tyre went up in smoke – spectacular, but not what is necessary for a fast run and Ian lost out to the American.

The surfaces that the Americans race on are different from those Ian has been used to in Europe. The team are analysing what happened, in order to prevent a reoccurrence of the tyre spinning up when Ian and the bike compete at the next round at Memphis over the first weekend in June. Ian is confident that there is still much more to come from the Gulf bike over the remainder of what is his swansong season in Top Fuel motorbikes.

 
 
 

DRAG RACING FIXTURES

 
 
 

MANUFACTURERS CUP 2017

 

Round Two, Memphis Internationals - Memphis, USA - June 3rd-4th

 
 

SUPERGIANT’S

SEASON COMES ALIVE

 

After a slow start to its second season in the Indian Premier League Cricket (IPL), Gulf-sponsored Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS), has now become one of the form sides in the league and the team has already easily eclipsed its win total for last season.

Having won its opening match against the Mumbai Indians, the Supergiant then had to wait another four matches until tasting victory again, leaving the it struggling close to the bottom of the league.

Their comfortable win against Royal Challengers Bangalore then seemed to kick-start the season for RPS and it has won a further five matches out of the six they have played since.

The victories have often been extremely close, exciting affairs. An awesome batting display from Gulf Brand Ambassador, MS Dhoni against Sunrisers Hyderabad -when the total RPS was chasing looked well out of reach - was one of the innings of the season, to that point, and it was followed by a superb bowling performance in the return match against Mumbai Indians, when the opposition looked odds-on to win. The victory ensured that RPS would be the only team to win home and away against IPL’s current leading team.

 
 

A good total of 182 in the twenty overs was still not enough to defeat the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) but then RPS returned to winning ways, easily overcoming Royal Challengers Bangalore. Next, an incredible undefeated century by England star, Ben Stokes, allowed RPS to take victory against Gujarat Lions with one ball to spare and most recently good bowling and a superb boundary-laden 93 from Rahul Tripathi brought RPS revenge for their earlier defeat by KKR.

RPS currently lie third in the IPL with three matches remaining – level on points with Kolkata Knight Riders. The top four teams qualify for the knock-out stages of the tournament.

RPS’ next match takes place on May 6th against Sunrisers Hydrabad. Victory would be a big step towards giving RPS a play-off place in this year’s IPL.

 
 
 

RISING PUNE SUPERGIANT FIXTURES

 
 
 

INDIAN PREMIER LEAGUE

 

Sunrisers Hyderabad vs RPS - Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium - May 6th

Delhi Daredevils vs RPS - Feroz Shah Kotla - May 12th

RPS vs Kings XI Punjab - Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium - May 14th

 
 
 

AROUND THE GULF WORLD OF SPORT

 
 

SCRATCH AND SCORE IS NOW LIVE!

 

The Gulf Scratch and Score promotion is now officially live. Gulf businesses around the world have signed up for it, so far, and these include Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Philippines and the UAE.

Centered around scratch card use, fantastic prizes, including trips to Old Trafford to watch a game, as well as many different types of merchandise, are on offer. Each individual country taking part decides how it wants to run the promotion in its own market.

First to kick off the promotion is Gulf Oil Bangladesh, as illustrated, who report that initial response has been very favourable.

For further information or to confirm your signing up to the promotion contact: daniela.russell@gulfoilltd.com

 
 
 

PHILIPPINES

MOTORCYCLE LUBRICANTS MAKING A REAL IMPRESSION

The Gulf-sponsored Kawasaki Team kicked off the 2017 Philippines Superbike Championship with a strong second place finish for Dashi Watanabe at the first race meeting. Gulf also sponsors and supplies product to teams in other categories, and Gulf’s Syntrac 4T Superbike oil is becoming an increasingly common sight in racing pit garages.

 
 

The Gulf provenance in motorsport and performance road lubrication was also very much in evidence at the recent Manila Transport Show and Moto Builds Pilipinas event (below).

ad@gulfoilphilippines.com

 
 
 

CHINA

GULF DEALERS LOVE UNITED

Gulf Oil China has indeed been busy and in April, Manchester United Legend, Denis Irwin (Centre left) visited China to star in the latest “I love United” event.

– but not before he was guest of honour at Gulf Oil China’s Dealer meeting, which was part of the “United Team is a Winning Team” initiative.

pennyqiu@gulfoilchina.com

 
 
 
 

UNITED KINGDOM

FORECOURT SHOW SUCCESS FOR GULF

Gulf, through UK fuel licensee, Certas Energy, was one of the main sponsors of Britain’s annual fuel retail expo, the Forecourt Show, at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.

As visitors entered the show, they had to do so by walking through an arched Gulf area, which featured this excellent Le Mans-winning Ford GT40 recreation, owned by long-time Gulf fanatic, Graham Turner. The Gulf presence at the show was an undoubted success, with Certas sealing a deal with a fuel service station chain to convert their stations to Gulf.

lisa.waddington@certasenergy.co.uk

 
 
 
 

JAPAN

GT SEASON OPENS IN FINE STYLE

The 2017 Japanese Super GT Championship got off to a great start for Gulf Racing Japan and their Porsche 911 GT3 in the opening round, at the Okayama International Circuit.

Drivers Jono Lester and Peak Tail Kyosuke guided the blue and orange car to an excellent podium finish, the Porsche starting from 15th and fighting up to third in the GT300 class at the end of the race.

The team backed this up with third place in the FS Cup Porsche Trophy Race with Yoshimi and Ryomi Hayasaki in their Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car at the same meeting.

www.gulf-racing.jp

 
 

IF YOU CAN'T BE THERE IN PERSON...

 

Catch the English Premier League on TV just about everywhere. This season it is now being broadcast on China's CCTV channel - but check out the official website of the league: www.premierleague.com and of Manchester United: www.manutd.com for details of Europa League and English Football League Cup games.

World Superbike action can be followed on the official World Superbike Championship Website: www.worldsbk.com (which also offers video coverage of the Superpole and both races, by subscription) and on Eurosport, either on the TV channel, where available, or through their Eurosport websites.

Fans of Gulf Racing can follow their progress in World Endurance Championship races LIVE on HD through the FIA WEC APP. Eurosport Player will show the full races live and full live commentary can be enjoyed through the excellent Radio Le Mans service: www.radiolemans.com

Follow the crucial upcoming matches for Rising Pune Supergiant and all of the action from the Indian Premier League through the tournament’s official website: www.iplt20.com Or Rising Pune Supergiant’s own website: www.risingpunesupergiant.in