C1 Qatar Team hopes for better fortunes in Mina Seyahi Grand Prix

Mina Seyahi Grand Prix, round 7 - December 4th-6th, 2008

For immediate release
Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008


· Sheikh Hassan eyes late bid for Middle East title
· Al-Sulaiti and Nicolini targeting race win in Mina Seyahi

DOHA (Qatar): The Qatar Class 1 World Powerboat Championship team heads to Mina Seyahi, near Dubai, this week in a determined bid to turn around a season that promised so much but has failed to deliver the success that was expected at the start of the racing season. The Mina Seyahi Grand Prix is the penultimate round of the 2008 series and takes place off the Mina Seyahi coastline on Saturday, December 6th.

His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Abdullah Al-Sulaiti currently lie fourth and third in the World Championship and third and sixth in the four-round Class 1 Middle East series with a pair of back-to-back races remaining in the UAE over the next two weekends.

Clinching the outright world title is still mathematically possible for both drivers in their respective Qatar 96 and Qatar 95 hulls, but a more realistic goal is the runner-up spot in the overall championship and the possibility of Sheikh Hassan and his British throttleman Steve Curtis MBE clinching the Class 1 Middle East title in the final two races. Dubai's Victory 1 and Victory 7 currently lie first and second in both championships, with Mohammed Al-Marri and Nadir Bin Hendi firm favourites to lift the world title on home waters.

"We will approach the first Dubai race just like any other race," admitted Sheikh Hassan. "We will work on improving some items that we have introduced to comply with the 2009 race regulations and if we get a podium finish, we will take it of course. It is always difficult to speculate what could happen during the race, but I have seen funny things in all mechanical sports, so we are not ruling anything out just yet.

"We will work towards the goal of the Middle East Championship title. It is important to us, not only for Steve and I in Qatar 96, but also to Matteo (Nicolini) and Abdullah in Qatar 95. There have been no changes to our boat since Egypt. We found out what was wrong with 96 in Porto Marina and what caused water to come into the engine bay. We fixed that and that is all we have done from our side."

Nicolini, on the other hand, has carried out some work on Qatar 95 since the Egyptian outing. ""For the Dubai race we have fitted the last version of the Sterling (V8) engine and we have also fitted the old exhaust to avoid the problems that we faced in Egypt."

Sheikh Hassan will not test before the first official practice session on Thursday afternoon, although the President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) does feel that Qatar 96 will have a good chance of winning the race in rougher weather conditions.

"This has been a very disappointing season. We started wrong. The learning curve does not exist anymore. We have learned enough. I truly believed that 2008 would have been the turning point for us as a team. But these set-backs will not stop us for 2009, as we have worked so hard for it.

"It would be great for the entire team to finish the season with two wins in Dubai," adds Sheikh Hassan. "Because we have faced so much bad luck and unreliability this season. This would be a reward for the whole team. Our spare boat was supposed to be sold and was not to be raced in 2008, but we were forced to use it and we had to progress step-by-step to improve its performance. For that reason unreliability was a major factor, as parts that failed were identified during the actual races and not during the close season. That cost us dearly."

Nicolini is also aiming to end the season on a high note with Abdullah Al-Sulaiti. "We are looking for a win in Dubai," admitted the Italian. If we won both the races then we have a chance to win the Middle East title."

The weekend's timetable gets underway with technical scrutineering and registration on Thursday (December 4th) morning, before teams will be permitted to take part in a two-hour open official practice session from 2pm. There will be a second 90-minute practice session on Friday morning, before the Edox Pole Position competition roars into life at 2.30pm.

Race day on Saturday (December 6th) gets underway with a final one-hour official practice from 10am, with the Mina Seyahi Grand Prix scheduled to start at 2.30pm. The 96.21Nm race will run for 21 laps, including a 4.95Nm start lap, 18 laps of 4.51Nm and two compulsory long tours of 5.04Nm.

CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP - positions after round 6 of 8
1. Victory 1 - M Al Marri (UAE)/N Bin Hendi (UAE) - 105pts
2. Victory 7 - A Al Mehairbi (UAE)/JM Sanchez (France) - 90pts
3. Qatar 95 - A Al-Sulaiti (Qatar)/M Nicolini (Italy) - 72pts
4. Qatar 96 - H Al-Thani (Qatar)/S Curtis (England) - 71pts
5. Jotun 90 - B Jacobsen (Norway)/J Tandberg (Norway) - 64pts
6. Foresti & Suardi 8 - K Selmer (Norway)/G Montavoci (Italy) - 50pts
7. Spirit of Spain 88 - S Carrasco (Spain)/D Cirilli (Spain) -19pts
8. Negotiator 50 - B Eker (Norway)/C Parsonage (England) - 16pts
9. SeveneleveN 18 - G Manuzzi (Italy)/N Giorgi (Italy) - 14pts
10. Qatar 9 - M Nasser (Qatar)/L Nicolini (Italy) - 4pts

(Championship points include bonus points allocated to teams for running engines for two consecutive races - one point, per engine, per race)

CLASS 1 MIDDLE EAST POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP - positions after round 2 of 4
1. Victory 1 - M Al Marri (UAE)/N Bin Hendi (UAE) - 40pts
2. Victory 7 - A Al Mehairbi (UAE)/JM Sanchez (France) - 27pts
3. Qatar 96 - H Al-Thani (Qatar)/S Curtis (England) - 22pts
4. Foresti & Suardi 8 - K Selmer (Norway)/G Montavoci (Italy) - 16pts
4. Negotiator 50 - B Eker (Norway)/C Parsonage (England) - 16pts
6. Qatar 95 - A Al-Sulaiti (Qatar)/M Nicolini (Italy) - 14pts
7. SeveneleveN 18 - G Manuzzi (Italy)/N Giorgi (Italy) - 5pts

CLASS 1 EDOX POLE POSITION - latest positions:
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: 02/12/2008

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