C1 Qatar 96 Team heads for Qatar Grand Prix in confident mood

Qatar Duty Free Grand Prix, Doha, November 20th - Round 5 of 8

For immediate release
Friday, November 12th, 2004


Qatar's Hassan Al-Thani confident of success;
Qatar Marine Sports Federation to host Class 1 series in Doha

DOHA (Qatar): Qatar's Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini will not have far to travel for the fifth round of this year's UIM Class 1 World Power Boat Championship and the opening round of the UIM Class 1 Asia/Middle East Power Boat Championship. Their home event, the Qatar Duty Free Grand Prix, is based in Doha and takes place along a new course off the Corniche on Saturday, November 20th.

After a three-month break following the opening four rounds of the series in Europe, the series heads to the Middle East for the final four races of the season in Qatar, Fujairah and Dubai. Sheikh Hassan and Matteo Nicolini will return to action in their Michael Peters-designed Qatar 96 hull, fresh from taking an emphatic maiden victory in August's Color Line Scandinavian Grand Prix in Norway.

~The win in Oslo was great for myself and the entire team,~ said Hassan, driver of Qatar 96 and President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation. ~We knew from the beginning of the season that our set-up was capable of taking a podium finish. But we went even better and won our first Grand Prix together. I felt that we still lacked a little top speed, but we knew in Norway that the Spirit of Norway boat was having difficulties and we applied the pressure at the right time.

~We have made some improvements on the boat after Oslo and I am hopeful that we have a higher top speed. After our bad start to the season in Spain and Portugal we started to work on getting as much as out of the spare boat as possible. We have known all along that we have a competitive set-up and we just have to make it work.~

But Hassan admits that Dubai's Victory 7 crew - the newly-crowned UIM Class 1 European Champions - start as the favourites to lift the title this season. They currently have a 13-point overall lead over Spirit of Norway. ~Victory 7 have the points' advantage, but we will not make it easy for them,~ added Hassan. ~We will fight for a top position on all the remaining races this season and I am confident that we can push for a win on each of those races. The fact that the Indian race was cancelled at such short notice at the start of the month means that they have an even better chance of taking the title.~

In recent weeks Hassan and his experienced team at the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) have been working around the clock to ensure that the race venue and organisation is fitting for a round of the Class One UIM Championship. ~It is a great thrill for us to play host to a round of the championship again for a second season,~ said Hassan. ~Last year was an exciting race and it would be great for us if we could win in front of a big home crowd.~

The Qatar 96 boat was built and is serviced by Dubai's Victory Team and Hassan is pleased with revisions that have been made in recent weeks. ~We have made some changes to the boat and introduced improvements to the handling characteristics. We feel that the boat should be more stable and this should give us a higher top speed.~

Qatar 96 currently holds fifth place in the Pole Position Championship and fourth overall in the Class One Championship, a mere seven points adrift of Victory 77, despite non-finishes in Spain and Portugal.

In Qatar, the team lines up against championship leaders Victory 7, Spirit of Norway, Victory 77 and the likes of Jotun, GFN Gibellato, Negotiator, Highlander and Hydrolift, who are all capable of putting in a fast time over the newest venue in the global Class One racing arena.

Race weekend gets underway on Thursday. November 18th with technical formalities and the first practice session, with a second practice session and the Pole Position Competition taking place on Friday afternoon. The Qatar Duty Free Grand Prix gets underway on Saturday. November 20th.

Championship Positions after race 4 of 8:
1. Victory 7 53pts
2. Spirit of Norway 40pts
3. Victory 77 39pts
4. Qatar 96 32pts
5. Jotun 27pts
6. GFN Gibellato 24pts
7. Negotiator 17pts
8. Hydrolift 16pts
9. Highlander 12pts
9. Roscioli Hotels 12pts

Pole Position Championship after race 4 of 8:
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: UK + 44 7831 123153. Mobile: Dubai + (971) 50 3616881 and E-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)


Date issued: 12/11/2004

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