Qatar 96 Team looks to bounce back in Spanish GP

Spanish Grand Prix, June 6th - Round 2 of 8

For immediate release
Saturday, May 29th, 2004


Qatar 96 Team raring to go in Spain this week; Spare boat prepared for Alicante race

ALICANTE (Spain): Qatar's Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini are looking to bounce straight back from the spectacular accident which caused them to lose second position and retire from last weekend's Lisbon Grand Prix in Portugal.

They are putting together final preparations to tackle the second race of this year's eight-round UIM Class One World Power Boat Championship in Alicante, Spain, on Sunday (June 6th).

The pair finished third in the Pole Position competition in Portugal and were hot on the heels of eventual winners Spirit of Norway, when they were sidelined by a spectacular high-speed accident on the River Tagus. But Sheikh Hassan, who is the President of Qatar's Marine Sports Federation, is even more determined to set the record straight in Spain with a podium finish.

~The accident in Lisbon has not affected my confidence in any way,~ said Doha-based Hassan. ~On the contrary, it has boosted my resolve for the next race. It did show us where the edge was and how far we could push the boat. Only now are we in a position to change our race tactics.~

But the orginal Michael Peters-designed hull was badly damaged in the incident and the Qatar 96 Team pairing will use a spare boat in Spain on Sunday. ~The spare boat will be fully prepared,~ added Hassan. ~It may not be quite as competitive in Spain, but it will be more competitive than the original Qatar 96 boat for the following races.

~Both Matteo and I were delighted with our performance in the Pole competition in Portugal. We are working well together and I think we proved that a second Pole Position victory is not far away. I just feel sorry that we lost a good boat and that may slightly hamper our progress for the early part of the season. The first race was very fast. We were just a few seconds behind Spirit and riding on dirty waters, but we were on the pace and proved that this season will not be a walkover for Spirit of Norway.~

The Qatar 96 entry is powered by two Victory-built V12 Lamborghini engines and serviced by Dubai-based Victory Team personnel. Victory 77 went on to finish second overall in Portugal, but Sheikh Hassan was impressed that Qatar 96 had the measure of his local rivals over the opening laps of the first race.

~It was a major boost for us to have the Victory Team running about 40 seconds behind us,~ said Hassan. ~Even though we have similar boats, almost similar engines and drop boxes, I really thought that the three boats would be running against each other. Maybe the extra development we carried out on our hull gave us an advantage.~

Qatar 96 lines up off the coast of Alicante on Sunday against the World, Middle East and Pole Position champions Bjorn Gjelsten and Steve Curtis in Spirit of Norway and Dubai arch rivals Victory 7 and Victory 77. Other competitors include newcomer Negotiator, Highlander, GFN Gibellato, Roscioli Hotels, Hydrolift and Jotun.

~I have not heard much about the course,~ said Hassan. ~I was told that, unlike Lisbon, we may have an open water type of race. There is a chance it could be rough with poor weather conditions. But I am looking forward to it and will be aiming for the podium.~

Championship Positions after race 1:
1. Spirit of Norway 20 pts
2. Victory 77 15 pts
3. Negotiator 12 pts
4. Victory 7 9 pts
5. Hydrolift 7 pts
6. GFN Gibellato 5 pts

Pole Position Championship after race 1:
1. Spirit of Norway 20 pts
2. Victory 7 15 pts
3. Qatar 96 12 pts
4. Victory 77 9 pts
5. Negotiator 7 pts
6. Jotun 5 pts
7. Highlander 4 pts
8. Roscioli Hotels 3 pts
9. Hydrolift 2 pts
10. GFN Gibellato 1 pt


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


Date issued: 29/05/2004

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