C1 Sheikh Hassan Al Thani recovers in time for Dubai Grand Prix

DUBAI GRAND PRIX, December 9th, 2005 - round 7 of 7

For immediate release
Tuesday, December 6th, 2005


Qatar 96 team bids to end season with second win;
Spirit of Norway firmly on track for repeat world title

DOHA (Qatar): Qatar Team Principal His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani has recovered sufficiently from the injuries he sustained in last month's Qatar Grand Prix and has confirmed his participation alongside Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini in this weekend's Dubai Grand Prix. The race will begin at 15.00 hrs (Dubai time) on Friday afternoon.

Following Spirit of Norway's fourth win of the season last Friday in the Mina Seyahi Grand Prix, it is no longer possible for the Qatar 96 team to win the 2005 UIM Class 1 World Power Boat Championship title to follow up their European success in the summer. But Sheikh Hassan is determined to put the recent set-back firmly to the back of his mind as he prepares for the final race of the year at the Dubai International Marine Club.

~I will not be phased at all by what happened in Qatar,~ said Sheikh Hassan. ~It was a typical racing accident and this can happen at any time to anyone. As far as I am concerned it will not be on my mind during the race. We have had a superb year and both Matteo and I want to end the season with a second win.~

The Qatar 96 duo will again use the Mercury engines which powered Nicolini and Abdullah Al-Sulaiti to an excellent second position last weekend. ~We will have to adapt our race strategy depending upon the conditions,~ added Hassan.

~The course in Dubai can be very tricky, especially since the Dubai Government has begun construction of the Palm islands. One end of the course can be flat calm at any time and the other can offer choppy waters and difficult, windy conditions. We have two days to get our set-up right to make sure that we give ourselves the best chance to beat Spirit and Victory 77 and try and confirm second place in both the Pole Position and overall Championship.~

Sheikh Hassan is keen to praise the sterling efforts put in by team mate Al-Sulaiti over the past three races. The Qatari took fourth place in the Mercury-engined Qatar 95 in the first of the Doha races and has since taken a pair of second positions in Qatar 95 and Qatar 96.

~Abdullah is a very determined character and he will become a regular feature on the podium next year, of that I have no doubt,~ added Hassan. ~He proved on several occasions recently that he is making very rapid progress indeed.~

While the Anglo-Norwegian pairing of Steve Curtis and Bard Eker go head-to-head with Mohammed Al-Marri and Jean-Marc Sanchez in Victory 77 to decide the overall title, Sheikh Hassan knows that outright victory would give them a fantastic opportunity of overhauling the Victory boat to take second in the series.

Sanchez and Marri currently have a five-point lead over Sheikh Hassan's Michael Peters-designed hull and trail Spirit of Norway by 17.5 points, with 20 points available to the winner and 15 points awarded for second place.

The final Pole Position race will take place at 15.00 hrs on Thursday afternoon. Spirit has already retained the title, but Qatar 96 needs a podium finish to virtually guarantee second overall.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the first official practice session for Friday's final Grand Prix of the year. The race on Friday will be made up of a 5.94 Nm start lap, 17 laps of 4.70 Nm and one compulsory long lap of 5.34 Nm.

Overall Championship Positions after round 6 of 7:
1 Spirit of Norway - Eker/Curtis 101pts
2 Victory 77 - Al Marri/Sanchez 82.5pts
3 Qatar 96 - Al Thani/Nicolini 77pts
4 Negotiator - Parsonage/Scism 56pts
5= Qatar 95 - Al Sulaiti/Di Biase 34pts
5=GFN Gibellato - Montavoci/Cirilli 34pts
7 Jotun - Tandberg/Zaborowski 27pts
8 Victory 7 - Hindi/Al Marri 24.5pts
9 Maritimo - Barry-Cotter/McGrath 17pts
10 Ceramiche Flaminia - Chillocci/Tzanov 13pts
11Roscioli Hotels - Giorgi/Polli 12pts


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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: 06/12/2005

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