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C1 Abdullah Al Sulaiti claims first Pole Position in Qatar Grand Prix

2009 UIM-WPPA CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
Qatar Marine Festival Grand Prix, round 1 - April 23rd-25th, 2009

For immediate release
Friday, April 24th, 2009

SPIRIT OF QATAR 95'S AL-SULAITI AND NICOLINI
CLAIM POLE POSITION FOR QATAR GRAND PRIX

·Abdullah Al-Sulaiti celebrates first Pole Position win
·Sheikh Hassan set to start Doha race from third position in 96
·UAE Fazza crew qualify in second position for Saturday's race

DOHA (Qatar): Qatar's Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini were the stars of Friday afternoon's Edox Pole Position qualifying session for Saturday's Qatar Marine Festival Grand Prix. The crew of Spirit of Qatar 95 set a blistering second lap of 2m 40.68s to claim Pole Position for the opening round of the 2009 UIM-WPPA Class 1 World Powerboat Championship. The feat was the first for Al-Sulaiti in his short Class 1 career and the fourth for Nicolini.

"The first race I won was in Doha and it is nice to win my first Pole here as well," said a delighted Al-Sulaiti. "We need to keep the fans happy. We did a good lap. The first one was not very good, because we had another boat in front of us, but we pushed hard on the second one and set a good time, despite hooking out of the corner at the end. Now it is important that we make a good start and stay in the lead from the beginning. We just have to get a good start now."

His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Steve Curtis MBE maintained a cautious approach in Spirit of Qatar 96 to claim third position behind a returning Arif Al-Zafeen and Nadir Bin Hendi in the rebranded Fazza 3 boat from the UAE.

Curtis had not expected to win the Pole Position in any case. "We are running different propellers and a different engine package and it hasn't really come together," admitted Curtis. "We have a lot less power than several other boats and we can't make up for power on this course because it is too flat. We had a sensor go early in the practice session but, with the amount of work we have done with this boat, we should be faster. We could easily be three or four seconds a lap quicker. It's no-one's fault. It is a development thing.

"There was not a lot we could do to improve for the Pole. I didn't think we would win the Pole. If we can finish on the podium in the race I will be happy with that to be honest."

Fazza set the target with an opening lap of 2m 41.79s in the Edox Pole Position competition, but Qatar 95 was slightly baulked in the rough water behind Welmax and could only manage a run of 2m 44.78s. The water was clear for Sheikh Hassan's first competitive tour of the new season and he carded a 2m 41.98s, a mere 0.19s behind the leading UAE boat.

Al-Sulaiti and Nicolini benefited from a clear run to take provisional pole with a second lap of 2m 40.68s with 30 minutes of the session remaining. Fazza came within 0.14 seconds of snatching pole with a third lap of 2m 40.82s, but Al-Sulaiti clung on as the session entered the crucial final minutes. Sheikh Hassan tried in vain to pip his colleague's time and the result was a lap of 2m 42.31s and Fazza came even closer in the dying seconds, but Qatar 95 held on to take a superb result.

Fazza led the two Spirit of Qatar boats in the morning's official practice session, with Al-Zafeen and Bin Hendi posting a lap of 2m 42.81s. Neither Sheikh Hassan nor Abdullah Al-Sulaiti wanted to put too much stress on the engines before the Edox Pole Position and Al-Sulaiti and Nicolini were content with a useful solitary lap of 2m 43.25s. Sheikh Hassan was third fastest in 2m 43.87s.

"I was quite happy, but we know that we can improve," said Nicolini. "One lap is not enough to give the boat and the new exhaust system a good run out and to find out whether the temperatures are stable. But the time was competitive and that was important."

Tomorrow (Saturday) marks the opening race of the new season. Teams will be permitted to carry out a final one-hour practice from 10.30hrs, before the Qatar Marine Festival Grand Prix roars into life from 3pm. The race will run over a total distance of 96.45Nm, consisting of one 5.15Nm start lap, 18 short laps of 4.5Nm and two compulsory 5.15Nm long laps.

2009 Qatar Marine Festival Grand Prix - Edox Pole Position (Friday):
1. Abdullah Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Matteo Nicolini (I) Spirit of Qatar 95    2m 40.68s  
2. Arif Al-Zafeen(UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE) Fazza 3     2m 40.82s  
3. Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani (QA)/Steve Curtis (GB) Spirit of Qatar 96  2m 41.98s
4. Mohammad Al-Mehairi (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F) Victory 1    2m 43.90s
5. Christian Zaborowski (N)/Jorn Tandberg (N) Welmax 90    2m 44.45s 
6. Christian Rivolta (I)/Giovanni Carpitella (I) Aurantium 10    2m 49.62s
7. Giorgio Manuzzi (RSM)/Peter McGrath (NZ) Maritimo 12    2m 52.06s
8. Francesco Pansini (I)/Giampaolo Montevoci (I) Foresti & Suardi/Roscioli 8  2m 55.84s
9. Riccardo Calugi (I)/Nicola Giorgi (I)/ Giorgiooffshore 18    2m 58.75s
10. Pal-Virik Nilsen (N)/Tom Barry-Cotter (AUS)/ Maritimo 11    DNS   

2009 Edox Pole Position Championship - positions after round 1:
1. Abdullah Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Matteo Nicolini (I) Spirit of Qatar 95    20 pts 
2. Arif Al-Zafeen(UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE) Fazza 3     15 pts  
3. Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani (QA)/Steve Curtis (GB) Spirit of Qatar 96  12 pts
4. Mohammad Al-Mehairi (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F) Victory 1    9 pts
5. Christian Zaborowski (N)/Jorn Tandberg (N) Welmax 90    7 pts
6. Christian Rivolta (I)/Giovanni Carpitella (I) Aurantium 10    5 pts
7. Giorgio Manuzzi (RSM)/Peter McGrath (NZ) Maritimo 12    4 pts
8. Francesco Pansini (MON)/Giampaolo Montevoci (I) Foresti & Suardi/Roscioli 8  3 pts
9. Riccardo Calugi (I)/Nicola Giorgi (I)/ Giorgiooffshore 18    2 pts

Timetable of events for 2009 Qatar Marine Festival Grand Prix

Saturday, April 25th - Doha Bay
10.30 hrs - 11.30hrs  3rd official practice on course, including long lap
15.00 hrs  2009 Qatar Marine Festival Grand Prix

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

www.class-1.com
www.qmsf.org

Date issued: 24/04/2009

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