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C1 Mechanical woes cost Sheikh Hassan potential victory in Egypt

2008 CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
Egyptian Grand Prix, round 6 - October 25th, 2008

For immediate release
Saturday, October 25th, 2008

MECHANICAL WOES COST SHEIKH HASSAN
POTENTIAL VICTORY IN EGYPTIAN GRAND PRIX

Victory 1 wins shortened Egyptian Grand Prix
Exhaust problems wreck Qatar 95's chances of a podium

PORTO MARINA (Egypt): An Egyptian Grand Prix that promised so much for 13 thrilling laps ended in bitter disappointment for the Qatar Team at Porto Marina on Saturday afternoon. Engine problems cost His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and British throttleman Steve Curtis MBE a convincing race lead and exhaust pipe-related maladies sidelined Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Matteo Nicolini in Qatar 95, when they were running inside the top three and looking set to give the Doha-based team its best result of the year.

Sheikh Hassan managed to struggle on - albeit four laps down - to score points for fifth place, but the maximum points haul for the victorious Victory 1 crew of Mohammed Al-Marri and Nadir Bin Hendi has severely dented the Qatar Team's hopes of taking the world title heading into the final two races of the season in the UAE in December.

"The race was ours for the taking," said a bitterly disappointed Sheikh Hassan. "We were well ahead and everything was looking good. It's very disappointing, but these things can and do happen in racing."

"It was a disaster for us, an absolute disaster," admitted Al-Sulaiti. "We were running well. Then we passed Hassan, who had stopped, and then one lap later it was over for us as well. The water cooling for the exhausts was not functioning and we were overheating. I guess now the championship is virtually over. Mathematically we have a chance, but realistically it's very disappointing."

Ongoing rough weather conditions meant that race officials were forced to shorten the course for the Egyptian Grand Prix on safety grounds and to prevent excessive damage to the boats. The race retained its 20-lap format but was reduced to just 70.40Nm, making it all the more important for Sheikh Hassan and Abdullah Al-Sulaiti to make good starts.

Qatar 96 edged into a 6.21s lead at the end of the crucial opening lap, with Victory 1 and Qatar 95 running close together in second and third places. Sheikh Hassan and Curtis extended their advantage to 10.85 seconds through lap two, but Jotun slipped behind Negotiator into sixth place. Sheikh Hassan's lead was 13.5 seconds through lap three, although second-placed Victory 1 had begun to pull clear of Al-Sulaiti and Nicolini in theV8 Sterling-engined Qatar 95 and Roscioli Hotels was struggling at the rear of the 10-boat field.

The lead was pegged back to 11.33 seconds through lap four, as the important long lap strategies began to take on added significance. Jotun had already slipped out of contention by the time Qatar 96 completed the fifth lap with a 13.51 second advantage. Parsonage and Moore were the first crew to take a long lap and they slipped behind Foresti & Suardi and Spirit of Spain into seventh place.

Qatar 96 maintained a steady 13.40 second lead through lap seven, although the championship-leading crew of Mohammed Al-Marri and Nadir Bin Hendi had pulled clear of Qatar 95 and were sitting comfortably in second position, with none of the leading quartet heading for a first long lap.

SevenEleven joined Jotun on the retirement list, as Victory 1 clawed back just over one second through lap eight. Qatar 95 was a further 33 seconds adrift, but running well ahead of Victory 7 as the Qatar Team remained on course for a double podium finish and the best result of the year. Al-Sulaiti and Nicolini were the first of the leading four to take a long tour on lap nine, but they had a sufficient advantage over Victory 7 to maintain third position, even before their Dubai rivals joined them on the long lap run.

Negotiator regained fifth place once the long lap strategies had been carried out and Sheikh Hassan headed for the long lap as the race reached its half-way point on lap 10. It was a superb decision by the Qatar Team and 96 headed into lap 11 with a 20.69s lead. Al-Marri and Bin Hendi followed their lead on lap 11, but Sheikh Hassan was heading into the distance with a lead of 21.49s.

The lead was again pegged back to 18.30s after lap 12, but the top four all had to run their final long lap, with the race heading into its final eight tours. Qatar 95 and Victory 7 both opted for lap 13 and the two leaders completed the long lap process on lap 14, as the race headed into a straight fight over the final six laps. But mechanical trouble plagued Qatar 96 once again and the leaders slowed dramatically with engine problems and were passed, first by Victory 1 and then by Qatar 95 and Victory 7.

But the drama continued on lap 15: the Victory 1 crew found themselves in a massive 1m 55.52s lead over their team mates in Victory 7, when Qatar 95 also slowed with exhaust-related woes. What had looked like being a sensational result for the Qatar Team had turned on its head in the matter of just two laps, as Negotiator and Foresti & Suardi moved past into third and fourth places and Sheikh Hassan's title dream was all but over.

Victory 1 headed into the final three laps with a two-minute lead over Victory 7, as a slowing Qatar 96 battled bravely to finish as many laps as possible to score valuable championship points for fifth place, on what had turned out to be a bitterly disappointing weekend for the Qatar Team.

Victory 1 had posted the fastest time in Saturday morning's final practice session, the Dubai boat running for two laps with a best time of 2m 31.79s on the short course. Qatar 96 and Qatar 95 were second and third, with Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis posting a best tour of 2m 32.21s and Abdullah Al-Sulaiti lapping in 2m 37.86s. Only six of the 10 registered boats took to the water, but all 10 confirmed their participation in the race.

2008 Egyptian Grand Prix - race results:
1. Victory 1 - Mohammed Al Marri (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE)      51m 03.15s
2. Victory 7 - Abdullah Al Mehairbi (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (France)     @ 2m 08.29s
3. Negotiator 50 - Chris Parsonage (England)/Billy Moore (USA)    1 lap behind
4. Foresti & Suardi 8 - Kolbjorn Selmer (Norway)/Gianpaolo Montavoci (Italy)    1 lap behind
5. Qatar 96 - Hassan Al-Thani (Qatar)/Steve Curtis (England)      4 laps behind
6. Qatar 95 - Abdullah Al-Sulaiti (Qatar)/Matteo Nicolini (Italy)      6 laps behind
7. Roscioli Hotels Roma 60 - Ahmed Al-Suwaidi (UAE)/Mohammed Abdelkader Ahmed (Spain) 7 laps behind
Spirit of Spain 88 - Sergio Mora Carrasco (Spain)/Giovanni Carpitella (Italy)    DNF
SeveneleveN 18 - Giorgio Manuzzi (Italy)/Nicola Giorgi (Italy)      DNF
Jotun 90 - Inge Brigt Aarbakke (Norway)/Jorn Tandberg (Norway)    DNF

Ends

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Date issued: 25/10/2008

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