Qatar 96 Team begins UIM Class 1 challenge in Portugal


For immediate release
Saturday, May 15th, 2004


Qatar's Sheikh Hassan confident of good result in improved boat; 13 entries in UIM series

DOHA (Qatar): Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini begin their challenge for success in the 2004 Superfund UIM Class One World Power Boat Championship in Portugal this weekend. The pair have entered a revised and improved Michael Peters-designed boat in the Lisbon Grand Prix, which takes place on Sunday (May 23rd). It is the first of nine races this season.

Hassan, who is the President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF), and Matteo entered the UIM series together for the first time in the Plymouth Grand Prix in the United Kingdom last summer and improved steadily as the season progressed - the highlight being a Pole Position triumph at the Dubai Grand Prix in mid-December.

~After the rapid progress we made last year we have gained enough confidence to push the boat more this season,~ said Sheikh Hassan. ~We have carried out a very aggressive training programme during the winter months and have improved the boat's power output and handling by joining forces with the Victory Team. I feel confident that we will be a very strong player in 2004.~

Last month the QMSF team signed a contract with the Dubai-based Victory Team's Commercial Division for a boat maintenance and servicing programme and the Qatar 96 boat will be serviced and maintained in Portugal by the Victory operation. Qatar 96 has also been fitted with the Victory Team's 2004 Lamborghini V12 engine.

~This year IOTA have made several changes, including the introduction of one long lap,~ added Hassan. ~This is mandatory for all teams and is to be taken after the second lap and up to 70% of the race distance. That means we have to calculate our own speed and the time between boats behind, to enable us to make a decision inside the cockpit on when to take this lap. This season will be based on a decision-making strategy rather than just sheer power capabilities.~

The weekend's action in Lisbon begins on Thursday with an official parade of 13 entrants from 10 countries entered in this year's UIM Class One series. They include champions Spirit of Norway, a pair of Victory Team boats, Qatar 96, Jotun, Highlander and four newcomers - a pair of Austrian Power Pilot Team entries, Chris Parsonage Racing from the UK and the Italian Veneta Marina entry.

~Portugal is a new circuit for me,~ said Hassan. ~Last year only four out of nine boats completed the race. Three boats crashed. The weather is unpredictable and we have to race one lap more this season. That lap will run against a strong wind coming from a nearby mountain and that could be dangerous. There are also very tight right and left-hand turns, which may be difficult.~

There is a timed practice session on Friday morning (May 21st), a second stint and the Pole Position competition on Saturday. The Lisbon Grand Prix begins at 14.30 hrs (local time) on Sunday and takes place over a tricky 5 Nm course off the Lisbon coast. The race will consist of 102 Nm - a two Nautical mile run out and 20 laps of the five-mile course.


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Date issued: 15/05/2004

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