Qatar 96 Team takes maiden UIM Class 1 win in Norway

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

For immediate release
Sunday, August 15th, 2004


Triumphant Qatar 96 Team also second in Pole Position competition;
Victory 7 crowned 2004 UIM Class 1 European Champions

OSLO (Norway): Qatar's Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini entered the history books by becoming the first Qatar team to win a round of the UIM Class 1 World Power Boat Championship, with an emphatic win in the Color Line Scandinavian Grand Prix in Oslo on Sunday.

The Qatar 96 Team followed an excellent third position in Plymouth three weeks ago with a maiden GP win on this fourth round of the 2004 UIM Class One World Power Boat Championship, where Dubai's Victory 7 were also crowned as the 2004 UIM Class One European Champions.

~This is a fantastic feeling to win our first race in Class One,~ said a delighted Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani, driver of Qatar 96. ~We made some changes to our set-up and knew that we would be following Spirit of Norway at the start of the race today. But we also knew that they had some mechanical problems and decided to apply the pressure in the early part of the race until they broke down or hit trouble.

~Then we had our chance, were in front and managed to press on for the win. It was a strange feeling to be leading and we very nearly came to grief with a spin, but Matteo's boat control was fantastic and we ended up as comfortable winners. After the disappointments early in the season, this was a great boost for the entire team.~

Behind the winning Qatar team, Victory 7 and Victory 77 fought a thrilling contest for the runner-up spot, until Victory 77 benefitted from their team mate's late problems and the Jotun boat, crewed by Bernhard Bellmann and Jann Hillestad, edged through to take the final podium position. Victory 7 was out of the podium placings, but had done enough to clinch the UIM European Championship.

The Qatar 96 Team had 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 last month. But everything ram superbly in Norway for an ecstatic Hassan and Matteo Nicolini.

~Now we can look ahead to the next four races and the Middle East Championship with renewed optimism and confidence,~ added the 35-year-old President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation. ~We will go to India, Qatar and the UAE knowing that we are a competitive force and the likes of Victory and Spirit will know that we are going to be serious challengers for the title.~

The Qatar 96 Team's Michael Peters-designed and Victory-built boat held fifth position in the Pole Position Championship and equal seventh in the Class One series prior to this weekend. Qatar 96 closed the gap on the leaders in the 2004 Pole Position Competition by finishing second fastest in Saturday's Pole competition, despite putting in only three timed laps. The team moves up to fourth in the overall championship.

The Norwegian race was first held in 1997 and it was last year's GP and Pole Position winners Spirit of Norway who set the pace in the Pole Position competition with a time of 2m 53.48s, a full three seconds ahead of Al-Thani and Nicolini in Qatar 96. The Highlander crew took their best position of the season to fill the final podium place in the Pole competition and duly lifted themselves off the foot of the points' tables. Victory 77 closed the gap on Victory 7 behind the leading Anglo-Norwegian pairing of Bjorn Gjelsten and Steve Curtis.

~It was a good start to the weekend to finish second in the Pole competition on Saturday,~ added Hassan Al-Thani. ~But the hard work started again with the race on Sunday, where the set-up of the boat was the crucial factor.~

Race weekend got underway on Friday with technical formalities, practice and a rock concert, with the Pole Position Competition reaching a climax on Saturday afternoon. The Color Line Scandinavian Grand Prix took place on Sunday over 20 laps and a race distance of 102.41 Nm. Because of the large number of small boats on the fjord, the long lap was replaced by a 1.73 Nm short lap, with the 4.74 Nm starting run and 18 laps of a 5.33 Nm completing the race distance.

Championship Positions after race 4 (unofficial):
1. Victory 7 (2004 UIM European Champions)
2. Spirit of Norway
3. Victory 77
4. Qatar 96 , etc

Pole Position Championship after race 4:
1. Spirit of Norway 75 pts
2. Victory 7 54 pts
3. Victory 77 45 pts
4. Jotun 32 pts
5. Qatar 96 31 pts
6. Negotiator 19 pts
7. Highlander 13 pts
7. Roscioli Hotels 13 pts
7. GFN Gibellato 9 pts
10. Hydrolift 5 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: 15/08/2004

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