C1 Qatar Team hopes to create history in Qatar Grand Prix

QATAR GRAND PRIX, November 5th/7th, 2005 - round 4 of 7

For immediate release
Friday, November 4th, 2005


Spirit of Norway's winning streak under threat in Doha;
Qatar Team pleased with new Mercury engine tests

DOHA (Qatar): The Qatar Team will be hoping to kick-start their quest for a maiden world title to add to the UIM European Championship they clinched in Norway in August, when they take to the waters of Doha Bay for the Qatar Grand Prix on Monday afternoon.

Headed by His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian team mate Matteo Nicolini, the Qatar 96 pair start as one of the favourite partnerships to achieve the outright win. Sheikh Hassan will be bidding to become the first Qatari ever to lift the world crown and Nicolini the first Italian to win the title for 10 years.

The opening race will be fought out over 18 laps of a tricky course laid out by UIM officials in Doha Bay, but the Qatar Team may well benefit from a ruling, which will see arch rivals Spirit of Norway forced to run a second long penalty lap at some point during the race.

Included in the race distance of 94.02 Nm are the 3.83 Nm short lap, 16 laps of 5.27 Nm and a compulsory long lap of 5.87 Nm, but the Norwegian boat will need to find around 30 seconds of extra pace to make up for the additional distance it will have to cover during the race.

~It could give us an advantage, but we will run our own race in any case,~ said Sheikh Hassan. ~The start is going to be crucial. If we can get away well and benefit from improved acceleration then we should be in a very strong position. We will just have to monitor the time differences during the race and maybe change our strategy accordingly.~

Hassan admits that the Qatar Team will experiment with two or three propeller settings on Saturday, but is mentally prepared for what promises to be a challenging and exciting three days. ~So far the weather has been perfect. We normally have calm waters in Doha. Maybe an extra 10 knots of breeze would be nice on race day.~

This year's Qatar Grand Prix will also be the opening round of the 2005 UIM Middle East Championship and both the Qatar and Victory teams will be eager to win the four-round series, which runs over the two Doha races and the two Class 1 events in Dubai at the start of December.

Doha first hosted a round of the series in 2002 and the Maritimo Offshore boat of Bill Barry-Cotter and Peter McGrath snatched a surprise win, after Bjorn Gjelsten and Steve Curtis had eased through the Pole Position contest.

Since that inaugural Australian triumph, Spirit of Norway has dominated the Doha race, winning both the Pole and overall Grand Prix races in 2003 and again on the double-header last season. In fact, Spirit of Norway arrives in Doha a mere four points adrift of Qatar 96, with Curtis and team owner Bard Eker bidding to give the boat a fourth consecutive world title and Curtis his seventh.

As the build up to the three days of action gathers pace on the Corniche area of Doha, the Dubai-based Victory Team again used the free time available on Friday to carry out further development tests with the new Mercury engines in Victory 4 with Jean-Marc Sanchez and an Italian test pilot. Italians Lino di Biase and Nicolini also took to the water for a second day in Qatar 95.

~Matteo was out on the water carrying out some early tests with Qatar 95 and the new engines,~ added Sheikh Hassan. ~We did not have time to test in Italy, so the team needed to iron out a minor overheating problem. The engines are running a little too hot and we need to sort out a small electronics fault before race day. It is probably something simple, but better to have the problem now than on Monday.~

Tomorrow (Saturday) is the first official day of the first Qatar Grand Prix race programme. Technical scrutineering will take place on Saturday morning and this will be followed by the first official practice sessions on Saturday afternoon.

Saturday, 5 November 2005 (Doha time)

09.00 - 12.00 Technical Scrutineering
12.00 - 14.00 Official Practice on racecourse
17.00 - 18.00 Pit area open to the public
19:00 Official Opening Ceremony & Official Welcome Reception


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Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153 and E-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)


Date issued: 04/11/2005

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