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Qatar 96 boat wins Pole Position and takes third in Dubai Grand Prix

UIM CLASS 1 SUPERFUND WORLD POWER BOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
DUBAI GRAND PRIX, Round 8 of 8
December 10-12th, 2003

For immediate release
Friday, December 12th, 2003

QATAR'S SHEIKH HASSAN TAKES THIRD POSITION
IN DUBAI GRAND PRIX FOR QATAR 96 TEAM

Pole Position glory for new Qatar 96 Team; New Qatar team looks ahead to 2004

DUBAI (UAE): Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani, the President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation, and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini finished third overall in the Dubai Grand Prix, the final round of both the UIM Class 1 Superfund and UIM Middle East Power Boat Championships, which took place on Friday afternoon (December 12th).

~We didn't have the best of starts today,~ said Sheikh Hassan. ~We slipped to second place and then to third. I think we took a marker a little too wide and then we were fourth. But we managed to overtake Maritimo and began to challenge Victory 77 for second place. There was no way past though and we had to settle for third in the end.

~But this is still an excellent result for our team. I am very pleased. Now we can knuckle down to some serious testing and an opportunity to further develop the boat over the winter months in time for a full assault at the 2004 season.~

But the new Qatar 96 Team - which was formed this season and only took control of their new Michael Peters-designed boat shortly before October's Qatar Grand Prix - shocked the established Class 1 contingent with a sensational Pole Position competition victory on Thursday.

The World Championship-winning Spirit of Norway had dominated the Pole Position series in 2003 - setting Pole on all seven previous races - but the Qatar 96 Team's third lap time of 2m 32.41s proved unbeatable, with Dubai's Victory 7 and Victory 77 filling the minor podium places and Spirit of Norway demoted to fourth place with a time of 2m 39.48s.

~The Pole Position result was certainly the best performance in my short career so far,~ said a delighted Sheikh Hassan, who earned 20 Pole Position Championship points and finished six of the eight Class 1 races he entered in sixth position overall.

~We showed in Fujairah last week that we had the competitiveness to make an impression and this result went to show our third place there was no fluke.~

The Dubai Grand Prix was also the final round of the UIM Class 1 Middle East Power Boat Championship and the Qatar 96 Team lined up at today's start bidding to finish the three-race championship in third position. Spirit of Norway duly clinched the regional title with outright victory in a race shortened by a freak sandstorm or 'shamal'.

~I am already looking forward to next season and a full assault at the entire UIM Class 1 World Championship,~ added Sheikh Hassan. ~Matteo and I are confident that we can improve on the rapid progress we have made in recent weeks.~

This weekend's race consisted of a 6.4 Nm start lap and 17 laps of a 5.8 Nm course and ran in conjunction with a Lifestyles weekend of music and fashion, which attracted a large crowd to the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) at Mina Seyahi, near Dubai.

Ends

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Date issued: 12/12/2003

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