C1 Qatar 96 takes fourth place in Nakhee Grand Prix

Nakheel Grand Prix, Dubai, December 3rd - Round 7 of 8

For immediate release
Friday, December 3rd, 2004


Victory and championship lead for Spirit of Norway;
Fifth place in Pole Competition for Qatar 96; Spirit of Norway closes in on Pole title

DUBAI (UAE): Qatar's Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian team mate Matteo Nicolini finished fourth overall in the Nakheel Grand Prix, the penultimate round of both the UIM World and Middle East Power Boat Championships, which finished at the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC), Mina Seyahi, today (Friday).

After starting out in fifth position in heavy seas and difficult conditions, Qatar 96 was unable to make an impression on the championship-leading duo of the Anglo-Norwegian pairing of Steve Curtis and Bjorn Gjelsten and the Victory 7 crew of the UAE's Ali Nasser and Ali Al Qama.

~The priority was to stay ahead of Victory 77 and make sure that we maintained our push for third in the championship,~ said Sheikh Hassan. ~But the conditions were difficult and we had to settle for fourth place. We had a right engine problem on the third lap and decided against coming in after lap five. We slowed down to try and reach the finish and had to rely on the boats in front having potential problems. That happened to Negotiator and Jotun and we finished fourth.

~The result means that we will start the final race of the season in Dubai next weekend five points behind Victory 77 and in need of a podium finish. ~There is certainly work to be done to make sure we have a better result next week.~

As Spirit of Norway headed off to a third successive Class One victory and the overall lead in the UIM Class One World Power Boat Championship with one race remaining next Friday, the Qatar 96 team found themselves sandwiched between the third-placed Victory 77 boat and the Victory 4 crew of the third Dubai boat, Ahmed Al-Tayer and Rashid Al-Marri. Spirit or Norway will now start the final race of the season with a five-point advantage over Victory 7, to set up a thrilling finale to both the UIM World and UIM Middle East Championships.

~Our strategy for this race was different to other races. Spirit and Victory 7 were obviously closely watching each other's performance and we thought we could push for the outright victory. We tested a few things during the final practice on Friday morning, just to get as close to the right set-up for the race as possible. But you never know in this part of the world what the weather will do. It was calm for the practice session, but that guarantees nothing for the race, as we discovered this weekend.~

Qatar 96 began today's race in fifth position behind the start boat, after taking a similar position in Thursday's Pole competition. Spirit of Norway closed to within a whisker of retaining the Pole Position Championship for a fourth successive occasion by taking Pole for Friday's Nakheel Grand Prix, despite rough seas, strong winds and the constant threat posed by the new European Champions in Victory 7.

Second-placed Ali Nasser and Ali Al-Qama in Victory 7 extended their advantage over Victory 77 team mates to nine points in the Pole Position Championship, while the Jotun boat finished an excellent third to move within one point of Qatar 96 in the points' standings.

~I thought at the start of the weekend that the Jotun boat could be the wild card for a good result,~ added Sheikh Hassan. ~It is one of the fastest boats. I was quite pleased with the Pole result actually. We didn't have much time to change the settings before we headed out and fifth position was okay.~

Today's race was fought out over an 18-lap course and a total race distance of 92.70 Nm. Class One teams will remain in Dubai for the next few days, before the competitive action resumes with a new Palm Speed Record in what should be calmer waters inside Palm Jumeira on Tuesday, December 7th.

Then, the concluding UIM Class One race takes place at the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) on Friday, December 10th.


Nakheel Grand Prix - result (unofficial - top 5):
1st. Bjorn Gjelsten (N)/Steve Curtis (GB) Spirit of Norway
2nd. Ali Nasser (UAE)/Ali Al Qama (UAE) Victory 7
3rd Mohammed Al Marri (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F) Victory 77
4th. Hassan Al-Thani (QA)/Matteo Nicolini (I) Qatar 96
5th Ahmed Al-Tayer (UAE)/Rashid Al Marri (UAE) Victory 4

Championship Positions after round 7 of 8:
1. Spirit of Norway 100 pts
2. Victory 7 95 pts
3. Victory 77 70 pts
4. Qatar 96 65pts, etc

Pole Position Championship - latest positions:
1. Spirit of Norway 115 pts
2. Victory 7 78 pts
3. Victory 77 69 pts
4. Qatar 96 50 pts
5. Jotun 49 pts
6. Negotiator 26 pts
7. Roscioli Hotels 20 pts
8. GFN Gibellato 17 pts
9. Highlander 13 pts
10. Hydrolift 12 pts


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)


Date issued: 03/12/2004

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