C1 Qatar 96 takes final podium place in Qatar GP Pole Position Championship

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

For immediate release
Friday, November 19th, 2004


Outright Pole Position victory for Spirit of Norway;
Victory 77 takes second podium place in Doha

DOHA (Qatar): Qatar's Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini began their challenge for a maiden victory in the Qatar Duty Free Grand Prix by taking third position in Friday's Pole Position Championship in favourable weather conditions in Doha Bay.

In front of an enthusiastic local crowd gathered along the Corniche in Doha, the Qatar 96 crew were first out of the starting blocks for Pole Position qualifying and set two fast laps before the Victory 7 crew of Ali Nasser and Ali Al Qama and Jotun's Bernhard Bellmann and Jann Hillestad took centre stage. But a convincing victory in the Pole Position Championship went to the flying Spirit of Norway crew of Norwegian Bjorn Gjelsten and Britain's Steve Curtis with a time fastest lap time of 2m 39.32s.

The pair were content with their set-up after yesterday's initial practice session and sat out Friday's morning's second timed practice. They have now taken four Pole Position victories in the five races so far this season and lead the Pole Position Competition by 32 points. Victory 7 maintain second place in the overall standings after finishing fourth in today's Pole Position competition, but Victory 77 driver Mohammed Al-Marri was rueing the fact that he got caught in the wake of another boat on his last lap and lost a potential Pole Position.

~We were running very hard and were on track to set the fastest time at the last buoy,~ said Al-Marri. ~But we caught the wake of another boat and that slowed us down. The set-up we ran today was specifically for the Pole Position and we will change it for the race on Saturday.~

The Qatar Grand Prix is round five of this year's UIM Class 1 World Power Boat Championship and the first of four rounds of the UIM Middle East series. Spirit of Norway had begun the weekend's Pole Position Championship with a 21-point lead over Victory 7. Qatar 96 started the day with 31 points, courtesy of a pair of third places in Portugal and Norway and a fifth overall in Spain. The Victory 77 crew of Al-Marri and Jean-Marc Sanchez have now closed to within three points of their team mates in Victory 7.

~It was important to get a good starting position for Saturday's race,~ said Hassan, President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation and driver of Qatar 96. ~The conditions were calm and I am pleased that we are on the podium. There is room for improvement in the race and I am still confident that we can win the Grand Prix.~ The Qatar 96 crew set a fastest time of 2m 44.61s on their way to third place.

Defending champions Spirit of Norway had been fastest in the first free practice session on Thursday, with Victory 77 and Victory 7 in second and third places. But the Qatar 96 boat missed Thursday's opening practice session and took to the water for the first time on Friday morning, setting the fastest time of the nine boats who used the one-hour session. Qatar 96 registered a best time of 2m 44.69s, with Victory 77 second and Victory 7 in third place.

There was an official team dinner at the Diplomatic Club in Doha and a laser show to bring Friday's festivities to a close. But attention now switches to the 2004 Qatar Duty Free Grand Prix on Saturday and those 19 timed laps of a revised course in Doha Bay, which stand between Sheikh Hassan, the Qatar 96 Team and a second successive Class One triumph.

Pole Position Championship after race 5 of 8 (unofficial):
1. Spirit of Norway 95 pts
2. Victory 7 63 pts
3. Victory 77 60 pts
4. Qatar 96 43 pts
5. Jotun 37 pts
6. Negotiator 26 pts
7. GFN Gibellato 17 pts
8. Roscioli Hotels 15 pts
9. Highlander 13 pts
10. Hydrolift 8 pts


For further media information, contact: Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, Qatar Duty Free Grand Prix Media Centre, Doha, Qatar, Tel: + 974 4369297, Mobile: Dubai + (971) 50 3616881 and E-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)


Date issued: 19/11/2004

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