C1 Pole Position for Qatar 96 at blustery Egyptian Grand Prix

Egyptian Grand Prix, round 6 - October 23rd-25th, 2008

For immediate release
Friday, October 24th, 2008


Qatar 96 crew in blistering form in blustery Porto Marina
Qatar 95 and Qatar 96 each post fastest times in practice sessions

PORTO MARINA (Egypt): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and British throttleman Steve Curtis MBE were in stunning form during the Edox Pole Position competition to determine the starting order for Saturday's Egyptian Grand Prix, round six of the Class 1 World Powerboat Championship.

One staggering lap of 3m 23.26s in the opening minutes of the session was sufficient to claim pole position for Qatar 96 and ensure the Qatar Team is in an ideal position to push for victory in Saturday's crucial race. Qatar 95's Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Matteo Nicolini had been fastest in Thursday afternoon's opening practice session and will start the race from fifth position. The success marked Sheikh Hassan's fifth pole position in his Class 1 career and his second of the season after a similar triumph in Budva back in May.

"Our plan for the Pole was to go out with the practice set-up and push as hard as we could to run a very quick lap," said Sheikh Hassan. "Then we planned to have another option on stand-by, in case we needed to go out again later in the session and try and beat the time."

Victory 1 laid down the early gauntlet with a lap of 3m 38.79s in the first few minutes of the session, only to see their team mates in Victory 7 edge inside the time by 0.17 seconds. But the Qatar 96 crew were in blistering form and Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis shattered the lap times with a stunning 3m 23.26s tour, which had been part of the all-important strategy. Al-Sulaiti and Nicolini opened their account in 3m 40.84s.

Victory 1's second lap shaved three seconds off the first time, but the Dubai crew were a staggering 12 seconds adrift of a totally-focused Sheikh Hassan.

Jotun joined the battle for the podium with an opening lap of 3m 38.60s, which was good enough for third place and pushed Qatar 95 down to fifth position. Neither Negotiator nor Foresti & Suardi could force their way into the top five after their first qualifying laps and Qatar 95 was unable to make in-roads into the top three after lap two. Sheikh Hassan's strategy was working perfectly as the session reached the half-way point.

Conditions dictated that Victory 1's third lap was 23 seconds slower than Qatar 96, as rivals became resigned to the fact that the opening Qatar 96 lap was unbeatable. No-one was able to get inside their opening lap times either as the session entered the final 30 minutes.

Jotun struggled around the course with problems in the last 10 minutes, but Qatar 96's lap time was untouchable in the final minutes, as Sheikh Hassan prepared for the crucial Egyptian race in the best possible fashion.

Practice makes perfect

Sheikh Hassan and Curtis set the pace in Saturday morning's free practice session, the Qatar 96 crew posting a single lap of 3m 09.23s, with the Negotiator crew of Chris Parsonage and American Class 1 debutant Billy Moore in second position with 3m 13.75s and Qatar 95 heading Victory 7 in third with a single lap of 3m 15.35s.

"We were pleased with our fastest lap of 3m 09s in practice this morning and were confident with the set-up," admitted Sheikh Hassan. "In these tricky conditions you need someone experienced on the throttle and Steve did a great job to keep the boat balanced."

Al-Sulaiti and Nicolini benefited from several changes to the set-up of Qatar 95 with the new V8 Sterling engines to set the pace in first practice on Thursday afternoon. Despite strong winds and rough seas, Qatar 95 set the fastest lap of 3m 16.75s, with Victory 1 and Qatar 96 the nearest challengers after the Qatar crew had made changes to the balance of 95 following the first run. The Jotun crew faced technical problems and were unable to take to the water, as the Norwegians chase a third successive Class 1 GP win.

"We have made several changes to the balance of 95 for Egypt," admitted Nicolini. "The aim was to improve control and stability. We moved the engine positions and made some modifications to the hull to reduce weight. We also replaced the old exhaust system, added new engine hatches, improved the air flow for the engines and replaced the fuel tanks."

The Qatar Team will be able to make any last minute changes to the set-up in the third official one-hour practice session from 10.00hrs on Saturday morning, before the crucial Egyptian Grand Prix fires into life from 14.30hrs. The race will take place over a distance of 91.67Nm, which will consist of one short outward lap, two compulsory long laps and 17 tours of the main racecourse.

2008 Egyptian Grand Prix - Edox Pole Position times:
1. Qatar 96 - Hassan Al-Thani (Qatar)/Steve Curtis (England)      3m 23.26s
2. Victory 1 - Mohammed Al Marri (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE)      3m 35.53s
3. Jotun 90 - Inge Brigt Aarbakke (Norway)/Jorn Tandberg (Norway)    3m 38.60s
4. Victory 7 - Abdullah Al Mehairbi (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (France)     3m 38.62s
5. Qatar 95 - Abdullah Al-Sulaiti (Qatar)/Matteo Nicolini (Italy)      3m 40.84s
6. Negotiator 50 - Chris Parsonage (England)/Billy Moore (USA)    3m 44.43s
7. Foresti & Suardi 8 - Kolbjorn Selmer (Norway)/Gianpaolo Montavoci (Italy)    3m 47.62s
8. SeveneleveN 18 - Giorgio Manuzzi (Italy)/Nicola Giorgi (Italy)      4m 07.64s
9. Roscioli Hotels Roma 60 - Ahmed Al-Suwaidi (UAE)/Mohammed Abdelkader Ahmed (Spain)     4m 36.68s

CLASS 1 EDOX POLE POSITION - latest positions (unofficial):
1. Victory 1 - 90pts
2. Qatar 96 - 79pts
3. Jotun 90 - 63pts
4. Qatar 95 - 44pts
5. Victory 7 - 37pts
6. Foresti & Suardi 8 - 21pts
7. SeveneleveN 18 - 18pts
8. Negotiator 50 - 12pts
9. Qatar 9 - 5pts
9. Spirit of Spain 88 - 5pts 
11. Roscioli Hotels Roma 60 - 2pts


For further information:
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com. www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases).



Date issued: 24/10/2008

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