C1 Qatar 96 set for fascinating clash with Victory 77 in Dubai GP

Dubai Grand Prix, Dubai, December 10th - Round 8 of 8

For immediate release
Sunday, December 5th, 2004


Qatar's Sheikh Hassan confident of taking third place in world series;
Spirit of Norway and Victory 7 to decide UIM Class One world title

DUBAI (UAE): Qatar's Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian team mate Matteo Nicolini will need to finish on the podium in this Friday's Dubai Grand Prix to fulfil their goal of ending the season in third position in the UIM Class One World Power Boat Championship.

The Dubai Grand Prix will bring the season to an exciting conclusion at the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC). As the Qatar 96 Team bids to
overhaul the Victory 77 boat and clinch third in the championship, the
season's finale also sees the Anglo-Norwegian pairing of Steve Curtis and Bjorn Gjelsten in Spirit of Norway attempting to fend off a fierce
challenge for the world title from the Victory 7 entry of the UAE's Ali
Nasser and Ali Al Qama. The pair were involved in a gripping race in Dubai last Friday and Spirit enters the weekend's action a mere five points ahead of Victory 7 in the points' standings.

~We will start the final race five points behind Victory 77,~ said Sheikh Hassan, the President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) and Driver of Qatar 96. ~Victory 77 beat us on the last race, but it was more a win born out of our engine problems. I feel that Victory 77 is someway behind our performance now when we have a boat running on full speed with no reliability problems. The records speak for themselves. When we have a clean run, we are a more competitive package than both Victory boats.~

Engine problems dogged the Qatar 96 Team's progress in the second Qatar
race and in Dubai last Friday, but Sheikh Hassan admits that sporting
success is often determined by good or bad fortune. ~Engine problems in
race conditions are something you can never rule out in power boat racing, however reliable the engine set-up has been during the season. It is always annoying, but it is a reality. Collecting points is all well and good, but the podium is our goal. We identified the last failure as an electrical problem and not mechanical, so we will take a close look at the electrics before the next race.~

As Spirit of Norway and Victory 7 - the 2004 UIM Class One European
Champions - fight for the world title, the Qatar 96 Team have their own
plan of action for Friday's race. ~The strategy will be to concentrate on our own performance and make sure that we beat Victory 77 and regain third place in the championship. This is my second season with Matteo and we are learning all the time. We look at our mistakes and make sure we prevent them happening again. There will be time to test before the race and that will make our choice for the race set-up that much easier.~

But Sheikh Hassan admits that team tactics do occur even in a racing
environment. ~I felt that Victory 7 was not as competitive as Spirit of
Norway in last weekend's race. The Victory team entered a third boat for
this race and I am sure there were some slowing tactics in play last
weekend, whereby Victory 4 was used to slow the Spirit boat to enable
Victory 7 to catch up. I just hope that these tactics do not come into play and affect our performance and position on Friday.~

The Qatar 96 Team also requires a top finish in the Pole Position
Championship race on Thursday afternoon to prevent the Jotun boat sneaking through to take fourth place in the Pole Position Championship. ~Our boat set-up will depend largely on the weather conditions. The stronger the wind, the heavier the boat should be. Last weekend's race was shortened and we can learn from those rougher conditions.~

But the Qatar 96 driver is pleased with the progress that he, Matteo
Nicolini and the Qatar Team have made in the space of 18 months of top
flight Class One racing. ~It has been an unpredictable year in many ways,~ adds Hassan. ~I think that we are becoming the dominant players in the championship. I don't want to sound too confident, but I am sure that, had we not made such a poor start to the season in Spain and Portugal, that it would have been the Qatar 96 boat challenging the Spirit boat on Friday and the other boats would be making up the numbers.~


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
5. GFN Gibellato 41 pts
6. Negotiator 37 pts
7. Jotun 30 pts
8. Hydrolift 23 pts
9. Roscioli Hotels 17 pts
10. Highlander 12 pts

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


Date issued: 05/12/2004

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