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C1 Spirit of Norway wins Qatar Duty Free Grand Prix

UIM CLASS 1 WORLD POWER BOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
Qatar Duty Free Grand Prix, Doha, November 20th - Round 5 of 8

For immediate release
Saturday, November 20th, 2004

QATAR 96 TAKES RUNNER-UP
POSITION IN HOME GRAND PRIX

Convincing victory for Spirit of Norway;
Victory 77 loses fifth place near the end; Third for Victory 7

DOHA (Qatar): Qatar's Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini finished second overall in the Qatar Duty Free Grand Prix, the fifth round of the UIM Class 1 World Power Boat Championship and the opening round of the UIM Class 1 Middle East Power Boat Championship, in Doha, today (Saturday).

Taking part in his home event for the second time after making his Class One racing debut in Plymouth last season, Hassan had taken third place in Friday's Pole Position competition in the Michael Peters-designed and Victory-built Qatar 96 hull, behind winners Spirit of Norway and Victory 77 .

The Qatar team pursued Spirit of Norway through the first lap of today's race after edging passed Victory 7 into second place. As the Anglo-Norwegian pairing headed off into the distance, Qatar 96 began to pull away from the Dubai crew and hung on to take an excellent second overall, with Ali Nasser and Ali Al Qama - the new European Champions - completing the podium.

Victory 77 lost fifth position with engine problems near the end, as Negotiator finished fourth. Engine problems cost the Jotun boat five laps and Roscioli Hotels was forced out mid-way through the race. ~I am very pleased to take second place,~ said Hassan, the winner of the fourth round of the series in Oslo.

~It was a hard race, but I was pleased to beat the European Champions and begin my campaign for the Middle East title with 15 points. We still have some improvements to make to be on the pace of Spirit, but we beat the Victory boats and that was one of the goals here.

~We changed the gear selector and propellers after the Pole and came up with a set-up that we felt was right for the race,~ added Hassan. ~We closed the gap on Spirit to two seconds in the final practice this morning and felt that would be enough during the race, where you have 10 boats running together early on and no-one is going to set a fast pace. Matteo and I discussed our strategy before the race and again after our last practice session. The weather conditions were good, but I was just concerned that we didn't get a northerly wind during the race.~

Last year's Qatar GP Pole Position and Grand Prix winners Bjorn Gjelsten and Steve Curtis in Spirit of Norway had retired from the last two European races, but needed to finish this weekend's race in Doha Bay to retain their chances of retaining the Class One title. They now trail Victory 7 by five points, as Qatar 96 moved into third position in the championship.

Race weekend got underway on Thursday with technical formalities and the first practice sessions, with a second practice and the Pole Position Competition taking place on Friday afternoon. The Qatar Duty Free Grand Prix was held over 19 laps in Doha Bay, on a course which included a start lap of 4.74 Nm, one 6 Nm long lap and 17 laps of 4.90 Nm in a total race distance of 93.27 Nm.

Following the cancellation of the Fujairah Grand Prix, which had been scheduled for December 3rd, the sixth round of the eight-race series will now take place in Doha on Monday (November 22nd). Competitors, members of the media and teams will remain in Doha on Sunday and the race will take place over the same circuit in Doha Bay. There will be no Pole Position Championship during the race two programme.

~We came in at the last hour and agreed to run a second race,~ said Sheikh Hassan, in his role as President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation. ~It is important that I also take advantage of another race in Doha, before we all head to Dubai in December. Without the Pole, the race will start with the order that we finished the first race and, of course, I will be hoping to take 20 points.~

UIM CLASS 1 WORLD POWER BOAT CHAMPIONSHIP

Qatar Duty Free Grand Prix - result (unofficial - top 5):
1st. Bjorn Gjelsten (N)/Steve Curtis (GB) Spirit of Norway 53m 16.917s 2nd. Hassan Al-Thani (QA)/Matteo Nicolini (I) Qatar 96 53m 33.681s
3rd. Ali Nasser (UAE)/Ali Al Qama (UAE) Victory 7 53m 45.678s
4th. Peter McGrath (NZ)/Chris Parsonage (GB) Negotiator 54m 35.50s 5th. Edoardo Polli (I)/Lamberto Leoni (MC) Highlander 54m 58.212s

Championship Positions after round 5 of 8 (unofficial):
1. Victory 7 65pts
2. Spirit of Norway 60pts
3. Qatar 96 47pts
4. Victory 77 46pts
5. GFN Gibellato 29pts
6. Jotun 27pts
7. Negotiator 26pts
8. Hydrolift 20 pts
9. Highlander 12pts
9. Roscioli Hotels 12pts

Pole Position Championship after round 5 of 7:
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

Ends

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)

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Date issued: 20/11/2004

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