Qatar 96 Team looks to bolster UIM points tally in Norway

Color Line Scandinavian Grand Prix, Oslo, August 15th - Round 4 of 8

For immediate release
Monday, August 9th, 2004


Qatar 96 Team ready to challenge for the podium; Spirit of Norway starts as favourite on home event

OSLO (Norway): Qatar's Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini will be bidding to improve on the third place they achieved in last month's Honda British Grand Prix, when they tackle the Color Line Scandinavian Grand Prix in Oslo this Sunday (August 15th). The race on a testing course along a Norwegian fjord constitutes the fourth round of both the 2004 UIM Class One World and European Power Boat Championships.

The Qatar 96 Team has endured mixed fortunes on the opening three races of the season, with non--finishes in Lisbon and Alicante followed by the first podium place in Plymouth three weeks ago. It was the Qatar Team's second podium of the season, as Hassan and Matteo were also classified third in the Pole Position Competition of the Lisbon Grand Prix before an accident cost them a GP finish.

~The last race was certainly a confidence booster for Matteo, all members of the team and for myself,~ said Hassan, the 35-year-old President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation. ~It was the result we had been waiting for after the disappointments in Portugal and Spain. I have never doubted that we are a winning team, but we have had more than our fair share of bad luck so far this year.~

Their Michael Peters-designed and Victory-built boat currently holds fifth position in the Pole Position Championship and equal seventh in the Class One series, but Hassan is confident that they will swiftly move up the championship points' tables.

~In terms of overall position, our target is certainly the podium in Norway and I feel sure that we can go better than third place this time. Spirit of Norway won the opening two races of the year and they may well have the advantage of racing at home, knowing the water current speeds and how to cope with any changes in wind direction.

~For sure, this will give them an advantage at times. But I am determined that Qatar 96 will challenge Spirit on its home waters and I know that we can do it. I am sure that the boys in the Spirit team know that we are a serious challenge this year and our position in the championship is not a true reflection of our potential.

~We have made some modifications to our second boat that we had originally omitted from the specification of the boat we crashed in Lisbon. These improvements should ensure that the spare boat is now at the same level as our original hull. I finished sixth in Norway last season and am aware that the weather conditions can change quite quickly, depending upon the wind direction. We might see some rougher waters at some point in the race, but we can only hope that we get a calm race day and have a fast race.

~I feel that we have a great chance to win the UIM Middle East Championship, as a result of the improvements we have made to the boat. The performance we show in Oslo will give us a better indication of our potential for the final four races of the season.~

Doha-based Sheikh Hassan made his Class One racing debut in Plymouth last year and went on to finish sixth overall in Oslo in the Damas boat in 2003. Qatar 96 and Spirit of Norway line up this weekend against the new championship leaders Victory 7, Dubai team mates Victory 77 and the Hydrolift, Jotun, Negotiator, GFN Gibellato, Highlander and Roscioli Hotels entries. Qatar 96 is currently tied with Roscioli Hotels, Negotiator and Highlander with 12 points in the overall championship.

Race weekend gets underway on Friday with technical formalities and practice, with the Pole Position Competition taking place on Saturday afternoon. The Color Line Scandinavian Grand Prix takes place on Sunday afternoon.

Championship Positions after race 3:
1. Victory 7 44 pts
2. Spirit of Norway 40 pts
3. Victory 77 24 pts
4. GFN Gibellato 17 pts
5. Hydrolift 16 pts
6. Jotun 15 pts
7. Qatar 96 12 pts
7. Negotiator 12 pts
7. Highlander 12 pts
7. Roscioli Hotels 12 pts

Pole Position Championship after race 3:
1. Spirit of Norway 55 pts
2. Victory 7 47 pts
3. Jotun 32 pts
4. Victory 77 30 pts
5. Qatar 96 19 pts
6. Negotiator 14 pts
7. Roscioli Hotels 13 pts
8. GFN Gibellato 9 pts
9. Hydrolift 5 pts
10. Highlander 4 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: 09/08/2004

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