C1 Qatar 96 team set to switch to Qatar 95 for Dubai GP

MINA SEYAHI AND DUBAI GRAND PRIX, December 2nd, 2005 - round 6 of 7

For immediate release
Friday, November 25th, 2005


Doha accident forces Sheikh Hassan into team changes

DOHA (Qatar): Qatar's His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini have been forced to use the Mercury-engined Qatar 95 boat for the remaining two races in this year's UIM Class 1 European Championship in the United Arab Emirates in December.

The sudden switch to Qatar 95 comes as a result of the damage sustained by their Lamborghini-engined Qatar 96 hull during the dramatic first lap accident in Doha Bay two weeks ago. The decision will also deprive Qatar's Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Italy's Lino di Biase of the opportunity to build upon the excellent second position they took in the last Qatar Grand Prix on November 12th.

~This is a very unfortunate decision to have to make, but we still have a fighting chance of taking the world title and there was no other option,~ admitted Sheikh Hassan. ~Our boat is damaged and there is no way that it can be repaired in time for the first race in Dubai. Qatar 95 is available and we will obtain permission from race officials to use this boat for the last two races.~

Sheikh Hassan and Nicolini had begun the second Qatar race with a four-point lead in the overall UIM Class 1 World Championship, but their dramatic crash has lifted the Anglo-Norwegian pairing of Steve Curtis and Bard Eker and the Victory 77 duo of Jean-Marc Sanchez and Mohammed Al-Marri above them in the points' standings. The Qatar 96 team trail the series leaders by 16 points prior to the Dubai races, with 20 points available for an outright win.

~The accident was a major set-back for us,~ added Hassan, who has been undergoing rigorous physiotherapy sessions on a sore neck since the accident. ~It has been quite painful and I am having treatment on a daily basis to make sure that I am ready for the Dubai races.~ Team mate Nicolini is also recovering well from the incident.

While the Spirit of Norway team look almost certain to retain their Class 1 Pole Position title - they head to Dubai with a 34-point lead over Qatar 96 in the points' standings - the outright world title is far from decided. ~Abdullah and Lino proved in Qatar that the Mercury engines have potential, so we will see what we can do in Dubai,~ added Hassan. ~Spirit and Victory 77 will have the advantage, but we are determined to bounce back with a good performance in Dubai.~

The series will be decided over two back-to-back races in Dubai on Friday, December 2nd and Friday, December 9th. The races will be based at the Dubai international Marine Club (DIMC), with the Mina Seyahi and Dubai Grand Prix kicking off at 14.30 hrs (Dubai time). Last year the Qatar 96 crew finished fourth in the opening Nakheel Grand Prix and third in the second event to take fourth place in the overall championship.

~This year we have shown what progress we have made and clinching the European Championship in the summer proved that we are now one of the most competitive teams in the championship,~ added Sheikh Hassan.

Championship Positions- after race 5 of 7:
1. Spirit of Norway - Eker/Curtis 78pts
2. Victory 77 - Al Marri/Sanchez 67.5pts
3. Qatar 96 - Al-Thani/Nicolini 62pts
4. Negotiator - Parsonage/Scism 46pts
5. Qatar 95 - Al Sulaiti/Di Biase 34pts
6. Jotun - Tandberg/Zaborowski 27pts
7. GFN Gibellato - Montavoci/Cirilli 25pts
6. Victory 7 - Hindi/R Al Marri 19.5pts
9. Maritimo - Barry-Cotter/McGrath 17pts
10. Roscioli Hotels - Giorgi/Polli 9pts
10. Ceramiche Flaminia - Chillocci/Tzanov 9pts

Pole Position Championship standings - after race 5 of 7
1. Spirit of Norway - Eker/Curtis 100pts
2. Qatar 96 - Al Thani/Nicolini 66pts
3. Jotun - Tandberg/Zaborowski 47pts
4. Negotiator - Parsonage/Scism 37pts
5. Victory 77 - M Al Marri/Sanchez 34pts
6. Victory 7 - Hindi/R Al Marri 31pts
7. Qatar 95 - Al Sulaiti/Di Biase 23pts
8. Maritimo - Barry-Cotter/McGrath 14pts
9. GFN Gibellato - Montavoci/Cirilli 13pts
10. Roscioli Hotels - Giorgi/Polli 8pts
11. Ceramiche Flaminia - Chillocci/Tzanov 3pts


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


Date issued: 25/11/2005

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