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C1 Second position for Qatar 96 in Mina Seyahi Grand Prix race

2005 UIM CLASS 1 WORLD POWER BOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
MINA SEYAHI GRAND PRIX, December 2nd, 2005 - round 6 of 7

For immediate release
Friday, December 2nd, 2005

SECOND POSITION FOR QATAR 96 IN
MINA SEYAHI GRAND PRIX RACE

Qatar 96 maintains second place in Pole Championship

DOHA (Qatar): Qatar's Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini finished second overall in the Mina Seyahi Grand Prix in Dubai today (Friday). The Anglo-Norwegian pairing of Steve Curtis and Bard Eker won the event to edge ever closer to yet another UIM Class 1 world title.

Spirit of Norway and the Qatar 96 Team made the early getaway from the chasing duo of Jotun and Victory 77, with GFN Gibellato, Negotiator, Victory 7 and Ceramiche Flaminia following behind. But Spirit continued to edge further ahead over the next laps as Qatar 96 maintained a distant challenge. With three laps to go, Victory 77 held third place and GFN Gibellato was fourth and the quartet held station to the finish, with Spirit recording a fourth win of the season and Al-Sulaiti a second successive second place.

Al-Sulaiti and Nicolini deliberately eased their pace over the closing laps to preserve the Mercury engines for next weekend's race. Sulaiti has been in resurgent form since his crash on the first of the Norwegian races in August and was fourth and second in the two Doha races.

~I am very proud of our team today,~ said team principal His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani. ~They did a great job to beat the Victory Team on their home race in Dubai. We again proved that the Mercury engines are the way forward and we have a great chance next weekend. I will be back next week to race.~

The Qatar Team had been forced to make a team change on Wednesday morning, when it became clear that Sheikh Hassan had not fully recovered from the high-speed accident on the first lap of the second Qatar Grand Prix.

~I needed a few extra days to make sure that I was ready to race,~ added Sheikh Hassan, who had his last stitches removed on the eve of the Mina Seyahi Grand Prix and is having the last of his physiotherapy sessions before the next race on December 9th.

Class One regulations permit driver changes in the registered boats and it was a sensible decision by the Qatar Team to allow Sulaiti to team up with Nicolini in the Mercury-engined Qatar 96 hull. Nicolini was declared fit after also being involved in that frightening Doha accident.

In Thursday's Pole Position competition, the Anglo-Norwegian pairing of Bard Eker and Steve Curtis won their sixth consecutive Pole race to confirm the championship with one race still to run. It was the team's fifth world title and was clinched with a one-lap winning time of 2h 52.27s.

The Jotun team of Jorn Tandberg and Christian Zaborowski had set the initial pace, with a time of 2m 53.15s, and the Victory 77 crew of Mohammed Al-Marri and Jean-Marc Sanchez were a close third with a time of 2m 54.82s.

The Qatar Team had been forced to cut short Thursday's official practice session with technical problems, but bounced back in the Pole Position competition to take a fine fourth overall in a time of 2m 55.00s to ensure that they will head for the final Pole competition race next Thursday, 13 points clear of Jotun and in second place in the Pole Championship.

The weekend's action began with technical scrutineering and official practice on the course on Wednesday and a second practice session on Thursday morning, prior to the Pole Postion competition.

The Dubai Grand Prix was first held in 1992. The first of the two December races was run over a 19-lap course and a distance of 91.18 Nm. This consisted of a 5.94 Nm start lap, 17 laps of 4.70 Nm and one compulsory long lap of 5.34 Nm.

Ends

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Date issued: 02/12/2005

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