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C1 Third and sixth places for Qatar Team in Qatar Grand Prix

UIM CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
Qatar Grand Prix, round 1 – Saturday, April 29th, 2006

For immediate release
Saturday, April 29th, 2006

SPIRIT OF NORWAY TAKES START-TO-
FINISH VICTORY IN QATAR GRAND PRIX

Third and sixth places for Qatar 96 and Qatar 95;
Victory 77 clinches second; King of Shaves in fourth

DOHA (Qatar): The Anglo-Norwegian pairing of Steve Curtis and Bjorn Gjelsten led from start to finish to take a polished victory in the Qatar Grand Prix, round one of this year’s UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship, in Doha Bay, today (Saturday).

His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini started from sixth place in Qatar 96 and were soon fighting for a podium position behind Mohammed Al-Marri and Jean-Marc Sanchez in Victory 77 and just ahead of the British crew of Chris Parsonage and James Sheppard in King of Shaves.

Clever team tactics dictated that they took their two compulsory long runs on laps four and five and they were soon in a dogfight for third place again. When King of Shaves took their second long lap six tours later, Sheikh Hassan and Matteo Nicolini were able to move back into third position.

But both Spirit of Norway and Victory 77 were never troubled at the front of the field and a mid-race burst by Qatar 96 came to nothing as the top four settled into sequence for the remaining seven laps of the race, despite the fact that the leading duo left it until laps 10, 11 and 12 to take their long laps. The result marked a record-breaking 33rd Class 1 GP victory for Curtis and the 27th for team mate Gjelsten.

In calm seas, Spirit of Norway always looked in control and eventually crossed the finish line 12.32s ahead of Dubai’s second-placed Victory 77 and 36.06s in front of Sheikh Hassan and Nicolini in Qatar 96. Just over 13 seconds further adrift was the King of Shaves entry, with Victory 7 struggling to make progress in fifth place and the Qatar 95 crew of Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Lino Di Biase never able to overcome a bad start to eventually take sixth place.

Giuseppe Chillocci and Mauro Esperto struggled at the rear of the field to collect points for seventh place in Ceramiche Flaminia, but the Jotun, Foresti&Suardi-Roscioli Hotels and Seveneleven (steering) boats suffered mechanical problems and retired early in the race.

To overcome a potentially race-threatening engine management system problem, the Qatar Team worked late into Friday evening with UIM officials to ensure that Friday’s technical problems were not repeated in today’s race.

“The UIM sent a communication to Mercury and a revised software programme was sent by e-mail last night,” said Sheikh Hassan, President of the QMSF. “It was installed in both boats and we wanted to carry out a test this morning to see how it performed. We needed to override the engine alarm systems, because if you ignore these in a race the engines shut down automatically.

“During the race you are concentrating hard on turning buoys and the course and do not have the time to worry about the alarms. We asked Mercury to eliminate all the warning systems and make sure that we can override this system and they do not shut down the engines automatically.”

In punishing heat and calm waters in Doha Bay on Saturday morning, the Qatar 96 crew were encouraged by a first practice time of 2m 56.60s, compared to the best times of 3m 02.89s for Victory 77 and 2m 59.65s for their Mercury-engined Jotun rivals. Spirit of Norway again stole the show with a clinical one-lap burst of 2m 52.203s, although King of Shaves produced a highly-competitive 2m 57.76s and Qatar 95 was boosted by a 2m 58.03s lap.

Today’s race was held over a start lap of 3.92 Nm, 15 timed laps of the short course and two long laps of 5.74 Nm in a total race distance of 92.35 Nm.

The majority of the Class One racing fraternity will now remain in Doha over the next two days before preparations begin for next Thursday’s (May 4th) Middle East Grand Prix, round two of the UIM series, in Doha Bay.

Qatar Grand Prix - results –
1. Spirit of Norway 10 (Gjelsten (N)/Curtis (GB)) 52m 16.64s
2. Victory 77 (Al-Marri (UAE)/Sanchez (F)) @ 12.32s
3. Qatar 96 (Al-Thani (QA)/Di Biase (I)) @ 36.06s
4. King of Shaves 50 (Parsonage (GB)/Sheppard(GB)) @ 49.07s
5. Victory 7 (Bin Hindi (UAE)/Al-Suwaidi (UAE)) @ 2 laps
6. Qatar 95 (Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Di Biase (I)) @ 2 laps
7. Ceramiche Flaminia 2 (Chillocci (I)/Esperto (I)) @ 5 laps
Jotun 90 (Tandberg (N)/Zaborowski (N)) DNF
Seveneleven 9 (Giorgi (I)/Nilsen (N)) DNF
Foresti & Suardi 8 (Monavoci (I)/Cirilli (E)) DNF

UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship
Positions after round 1:
1. Spirit of Norway 20 pts
2. Victory 77 15 pts
3. Qatar 96 12 pts
4. King of Shaves 9 pts
5. Victory 7 7 pts
6. Qatar 95 5 pts
7. Ceramiche Flaminia 4 pts
Jotun 0 pt
Foresti & Suardi 0 pt
Seveneleven 0 pt

Ends

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

www.class-1.com
www.qmsf.org



Date issued: 29/04/2006

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