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C1 Qatar 96 prepares for Nakheel Grand Prix in Dubai

UIM CLASS 1 WORLD POWER BOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
Nakheel Grand Prix, Dubai, December 3rd - Round 7 of 8

For immediate release
Saturday, November 27th, 2004

QATAR 96 TEAM STILL CONFIDENT OF LIFTING
UIM CLASS ONE MIDDLE EAST SERIES CROWN

Qatar 96 Team aims for third in UIM World Championship;
Victory 7 and Spirit of Norway go head-to-head in Dubai

DUBAI (UAE): Qatar's Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian team mate Matteo Nicolini head to the United Arab Emirates this week to tackle Friday's Nakheel Grand Prix, off the coast of Mina Seyahi, west of Dubai. They currently lie fourth in both the overall GP and Pole Position Championships and hold third place and remain in strong contention for the UIM Middle East title, held over the last four races in the eight-event UIM calendar.

Set to replace the cancelled Fujairah Grand Prix, the Nakheel-backed meeting in Dubai is the seventh round of the UIM Class 1 World Championship and will see the local favourites Victory 7 go head-to-head with joint championship leaders Spirit of Norway to decide the outcome of this year's World Championship.

Both teams have 80 points from the six races so far this season and, although it is still mathematically possible for both Qatar 96 and Victory 77 to take the title, the Anglo-Norwegian pairing of Steve Curtis and Bjorn Gjelsten and the Victory 7 team of Ali Nasser and Ali Al Qama remain firm favourites on the final two rounds, which will be hosted by the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC).

~I think we can bounce back for the sake of the Middle East Championship,~ said Sheikh Hassan. ~Currently we are third in the regional series, but the target was the World Championship and the target now for this is to finish third overall. I am sure that we can be there. Spirit of Norway is in a class on its own at the moment. They have a great set-up and an excellent, well-balanced boat. They are just the perfect team. We may need some time to be like them. We are not far away and we are getting there.

~We made plans for the season and we are on target with our plans. I have an excellent working relationship with Matteo on issues relating to boat performance and I think this is the secret behind our achievements in such a short time. We have logical and realistic goals and just pursue them.

But Hassan is quick to rue the misfortune which cost him the runner-up position in the second Qatar GP race last Monday. ~We experienced an engine failure early in the second Qatar race before we retired on the 17th lap and we managed to get the engine to run to try and save our position. We succeeded for a time, but on lap 17, the right engine let go and we broke down.~

The Qatar 96 team has been the most improved entries in the Class One series this season and Sheikh Hassan is quick to praise his throttleman Matteo Nicolini. ~Matteo is a boat builder and he has the experience of boat development. You can see how the boat has been different from one race to the other and that is the advantage the Qatar 96 has over the rest of the teams.

After emerging unscathed from a huge accident during the second race in Lisbon back in June, Hassan is quick to realise the dangers of this sport at the pinnacle of high-speed marine racing. This was brought home again last weekend when Kiwi Peter McGrath and Britain's Chris Parsonage managed to finish fifth in Negotiator, despite a massive high-speed moment when the boat flipped into the air. ~I know that this sport is a bit dangerous and we need to be cautious at times, but it's all part of going fast,~ added Hassan.

The penultimate round of the Pole Position Championship will be held on Thursday (December 2nd). Spirit of Norway won the competition outright last year and has built up a commanding 32-point advantage with two races remaining in 2004. Only Victory 7 and Victory 77 can prevent Spirit from retaining its Pole title, although Qatar 96 took a maiden Pole Position win in last season's Dubai Grand Prix and has consistently been Spirit's closest rival on the last three races.

~We may test during the office test days just to make sure that we do have the best set-up for race day. The strategy for the race will be to run hard and finish on the podium to gain back the third overall in the championship. The set-up for Dubai is different, because of the water conditions. The water is a little rougher and we do have special propellers ready for that and a different set-up for the race. I do believe that we will be fast on rough waters.~

On Wednesday, December 1st, teams will enjoy a dinner and briefing at Nakheel's The World complex. Practice sessions, the Pole Position competition and the 18-lap, 92.70 Nm Grand Prix will take place between the coastline and Palm Jumeira on Thursday, December 2nd, with the race taking place on Friday.

There will also be a novel Palm Speed Record in calmer waters inside Palm Jumeira to replace last week's second Pole Position race in Qatar and this takes place on Tuesday, December 7th between the two concluding UIM Class One races.

UIM CLASS 1 WORLD POWER BOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
Championship Positions after round 6 of 8:
1. Victory 7 80 pts
1. Spirit of Norway 80 pts
3. Victory 77 58 pts
4. Qatar 96 56 pts
5. GFN Gibellato 34 pts
6. Negotiator 33 pts
7. Jotun 30pts
8. Hydrolift 20pts
9. Highlander 12pts
9. Roscioli Hotels 12pts

Pole Position Championship after race 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, Mobile: Dubai + 971 50 3616881 and E-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases) www.class-1.com www.qmsf.org

Date issued: 27/11/2004

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