Qatar 96 Team prepares for Honda British Grand Prix

Honda British Grand Prix, Plymouth, July 18th - Round 3 of 8

For immediate release
Sunday, July 11th, 2004


Qatar 96 Team confident of success; Spirit of Norway start as favourites

PLYMOUTH (England): Qatar's Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini will be aiming for a podium finish when they tackle the Honda British Grand Prix off the coast of Plymouth on Sunday. The race is the third round of this year's UIM Class One World Power Boat Championship.

After finishing third in the Pole Position competition during the opening race in Lisbon, the Qatar 96 Team has suffered a couple of set-backs. They crashed out of the Lisbon Grand Prix and then a cruel mechanical problem put them out of a potential podium finish in Alicante last month.

But Hassan, the President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation, is determined to bounce back with a top points-scoring finish, as he bids to open his account in the Championship and improve upon the fifth position Qatar 96 currently holds in the Pole Position Championship.

Doha-based Sheikh Hassan made his Class One racing debut in this event last year and went on to finish sixth overall in the Damas boat. The 2003 British Grand Prix was won by Ahmed Al Tayer and Ali Al Qama in Dubai's Victory 7, although the race was first held in 2001.

~The two non-finishes have not affected our confidence in any way,~ said 35-year-old Hassan. ~Matteo, myself and the team showed in the first race that we are a strong operation. We put in a very acceptable performance in the second race, despite the spare boat not being in its acceptable Qatar Racing standard. The second race was marred by a mechanical retirement, but had we finished the Portugal race maybe we could have used our first choice boat.

~I am looking forward to a podium finish in Plymouth. Last year, as a new team, we finished sixth. We do not want to be anywhere other than on the podium. Plymouth was a bit rough last year. I hope this year the sea will be calmer. I don't mind rough weather and I think our boat can handle both to be honest.

~We will be faced with an important decision to choose which propeller works better under both conditions. That is something which we will have to scratch our heads together about over race weekend. I think a podium is realistic and I know that we can do it. The crew have been working around the clock to get the spare boat as good or even better than the original Qatar 96 boat.~

The Qatar Team's Michael Peters-designed hull is powered by a pair of Victory-built V12 Lamborghini engines and lines up on the potentially treacherous waters behind the Plymouth breakwater on the English Channel against the all-conquering defending champions Bjorn Gjelsten and Steve Curtis in Spirit of Norway.

The Anglo-Norwegian pairing have a 100% record so far this season, although Dubai's Victory 7 and Victory 77 will be aiming to snatch a first win of the year. The line-up will be completed by the Hydrolift, Jotun, Negotiator, GFN Gigellato, Highlander and Roscioli Hotels entries.

~Spirit is a team that deserves to be winning,~ admitted Hassan. ~They are an excellent pair in the cockpit and I am sure they are looking at another pair running next to them this season and that is us! Their secret is to get a clean start and hold on until the end. We have been slow at the start, but we are working on that to be just as good or even better.

~In terms of development we are at the same level or maybe slightly better than Victory Team at this stage. We do have our secret and it showed in the opening race. We were faster than the Victory boats and certainly better performers.~

Race weekend gets underway on Friday with technical formalities and practice, with the Pole Position Competition taking place at 14.00 hrs (UK time) on Saturday afternoon after two smaller Honda support races.

The Honda British Grand Prix gets underway at 14.00 hrs on Sunday. It will consist of 19 laps over a distance of 102.50 Nm, including a start lap of 5.41Nm, 17 x 5.33 Nm laps and a compulsory 6.48 Nm long lap.

Championship Positions after race 2:
1. Spirit of Norway 40 pts
2. Victory 7 24 pts
3. Hydrolift 16 pts
4. Victory 77 15 pts
5. Negotiator 12 pts
5. GFN Gibellato 12 pts
5. Highlander 12 pts
8. Roscioli Hotels 5 pts

Pole Position Championship after race 2:
1. Spirit of Norway 40 pts
2. Victory 7 27 pts
3. Victory 77 21 pts
4. Jotun 20 pts
5. Qatar 96 19 pts
6. Negotiator 7 pts
6. Roscioli Hotels 7 pts
8. GFN Gibellato 4 pts
8. Highlander 4 pts
10. Hydrolift 2 pts


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: 11/07/2004

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