C1 Stunning opening lap nets Pole Position for Sheikh Hassan in the UAE

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

For immediate release
Friday, December 5th, 2008


·Sheikh Hassan claims sixth career pole and third of 2008 season
·Qatar's Abdullah Al-Sulaiti qualifies in second for Saturday's race

MINA SEYAHI (UAE): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Abdullah Al-Sulaiti will start Saturday's Mina Seyahi Grand Prix, the penultimate round of the 2008 Class 1 World Powerboat Championship, from first and second positions after Friday's Edox Pole Position competition.

Sheikh Hassan and British throttleman Steve Curtis MBE also collected 20 crucial points towards their challenge for the 2008 Edox Pole Position title after a stunning opening lap confirmed the fastest time of the session. They now head into the final qualifying session of the season next weekend, a mere three points behind Victory 1.

Saturday's race may well decide the outcome of the Class 1 World Championship, however, with the home Victory 1 team in a strong position to clinch the title, after qualifying in third position for Saturday's race.

"We proved again that we are the fastest boat on the race course when we don't have any problems or any bad luck," admitted Sheikh Hassan. "We had a minor problem with an electric switch on Thursday afternoon, but everything was sorted for today. We tested a couple of propellers this morning and the second one was half a second quicker, so we were confident with the set-up for this afternoon. The only potential problem was the weather. We had a medium swell this morning. Even though it was calm just before the Pole Position, there were clouds in the area and there was a chance that the weather was going to be unpredictable."

The championship-leading Victory 1 laid down the gauntlet with an opening lap of 2m 51.90s, with Qatar 95 slotting into second with a tour of 2m 52.59s and Victory posting a 2m 54.06s. But Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis had other ideas and shot to the top of the leader board with a potent run of 2m 45.09s in a carbon copy of the stunning lap they set at the start of the qualifying session in Egypt recently.

Jotun pushed Qatar 95 down to fourth with two runs of 2m 52.07s and 2m 51.95s, as the leading five boats emphasised their dominance through the opening minutes. Victory 1 could get nowhere near Qatar 96 on their second lap, but Matteo Nicolini and Abdullah Al-Sulaiti used the new Sterling engines in Qatar 95 to their full potential to move up to second place with a lap of 2m 50.32s.

Qatar 95 went even faster on lap three with a 2m 49.28s tour, but maintained second position as the Qatar Team dominated the qualifying session. Victory 1 improved with a 2m 51.48s on their fourth and final lap, but it was not good enough to stop the Qatar Team roller-coaster. Qatar 95 continued to improve with a fourth lap of 2m 48.43s to confirm second position, but no boat was a match for Qatar 96, after a superb afternoon for the Qatar Team.

Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis MBE set the fastest time in the second practice session on Friday morning, the Qatar 96 pairing posting 2m 44.90s on their second lap of the Mina Seyahi course. The time tied the solitary lap set by Victory 1, although both crews were just under three seconds quicker than Qatar 95. Eleven boats took to the water, with Foresti & Suardi running for five laps.

Qatar 95 posted the best lap in Thursday afternoon's opening practice session, Al-Sulaiti and Nicolini posting a single lap of 2m 53.10s to give their new Sterling V8 engines an excellent debut lap. Victory 1 and Victory 7 were three and four seconds adrift and Jotun set the fourth quickest tour of 2m 58.12s. Only eight of the 11 entered boats took to the water, with Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis skipping the session in Qatar 96 because of electrical problems.

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.

2008 Mina Seyahi Grand Prix - Edox Pole Position times:
1. Qatar 96 - Hassan Al-Thani (Qatar)/Steve Curtis (England)      2m 45.09s
2. Qatar 95 - Abdullah Al-Sulaiti (Qatar)/Matteo Nicolini (Italy)      2m 48.43s
3. Victory 1 - Mohammed Al Marri (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE)      2m 51.48s
4. Victory 7 - Abdullah Al Mehairbi (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (France)     2m 51.54s
5. Jotun 90 - Inge Brigt Aarbakke (Norway)/Jorn Tandberg (Norway)    2m 51.95s
6. Negotiator 50 - Chris Parsonage (England)/Billy Moore (USA)    2m 56.40s
7. Foresti & Suardi 8 - Kolbjorn Selmer (Norway)/Gianpaolo Montavoci (Italy)    2m 56.75s
8. SeveneleveN 18 - Giorgio Manuzzi (Italy)/Nicola Giorgi (Italy)      2m 58.73s
9. Spirit of Spain 88 - Sergio Mora Carrasco (Spain)/Giovanni Carpitella (Italy)  3m 00.03s
10. Maritimo 11 - Tom-Barry Cotter (Australia)/Pal-Virik Nilsen (Norway)   3m 12.59s
11. Roscioli Hotels Roma 60 - Ahmed Al-Suwaidi (UAE)/Mohammed Abdelkader Ahmed (Spain) 3m 43.29s

CLASS 1 EDOX POLE POSITION - latest positions (unofficial):
1. Victory 1 - 102 pts
2. Qatar 96 - 99 pts
3. Jotun 90 - 70 pts
4. Qatar 95 - 59 pts
5. Victory 7 - 46 pts
6. Foresti & Suardi 8 - 25 pts
7. SeveneleveN 18 - 21 pts
8. Negotiator 50 - 17 pts
9. Spirit of Spain 88 - 7 pts
10. Qatar 9 - 5pts
11. Roscioli Hotels Roma 60 - 2pts
12. Maritimo 11 - 1 pt


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: 05/12/2008

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