C1 Qatar 95 takes pulsating victory in Middle East Grand Prix

Middle East Grand Prix, round 2 – Thursday, May 4th, 2006

For immediate release
Thursday, May 4th 2006


Jotun takes third place; woe for Spirit of Norway
Transmission agony for early leader King of Shaves;
Qatar 96 takes outright championship lead

DOHA (Qatar): The Qatar Team clinched an historic first and second overall in the Middle East Grand Prix, round two of this year’s UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship, in punishing heat in Doha Bay, today (Thursday).

Qatar’s Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and throttleman Lino Di Biase moved into the outright lead on lap 11 in Qatar 95 and eventually finished 49.26s ahead of Qatar 96 team mates His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini, the new outright leaders of this year’s championship. Jorn Tandberg and Christian Zaborowski completed the podium places and a Mercury engine 1-2-3 with a distant third overall in Jotun

“I am absolutely thrilled,” said Al-Sulaiti. “To go from the low of setting a token lap time yesterday with our engine problems to lining up this morning at the back of the field and then going on to win the race is just unbelievable. It was a great team effort and what a place to win your first race? In front of a home crowd in Doha…”

In one of the closest and most open races for several seasons, Al-Sulaiti and Di Biase benefited from a superb start to move from 10th to second place upon completion of lap one. But they were upstaged in the early stages by a flying Chris Parsonage and James Sheppard in King of Shaves. The British pair completed the opening lap in the lead and gradually extended their advantage over the chasing pack.

When Qatar 96, Spirit of Norway and Victory 77 elected to take their compulsory long laps early in the race, King of Shaves was able to benefit from clear waters to open up a lead of 17.88s over Qatar 95 after lap 10. Qatar 95 continued to edge away from Spirit of Norway, Victory 77 and Qatar 96, but Victory 77’s Jean-Marc Sanchez and Mohammed Al-Marri were forced out of the race on lap 10 by a broken propeller.

Parsonage and Sheppard took their first long lap on the same tour and managed to stay clear of Qatar 95, but cruel driveshaft problems intervened and the Brits were forced out on lap 11. This paved the way for a resurgent Al-Sulaiti and Di Biase – running new engines for this race – to forge into the lead.

Despite a valiant attempt by Steve Curtis and Bjorn Gjelsten to peg them back, the Qatar 95 crew gradually pulled away and the contest was settled in their favour on lap 16 when Spirit of Norway slowed to a snail’s pace with crippling propeller problems. The result marked a first ever Class 1 race win for Abdullah Al-Sulaiti, the second for Lino Di Biase - after a wait of 13 years since his first win in Marbella - and the third Grand Prix win in three seasons for the Qatar Team.

Sheikh Hassan and Nicolini maintained a measured pace to complete an historic one-two for the Qatar Team in front of a partisan Doha crowd.

”Matteo and I discussed our long lap strategy, but it all depended really on what kind of start we made to the race,” said Sheikh Hassan. “If we had got away in the lead, the plan was to push on and try and edge away. As it happened we took our long laps early, but could not catch the leaders. I am delighted for the entire team though for a superb result. Everyone has worked hard over the last 10 days. We have had our fair share of problems and this was a fitting reward for everyone’s efforts – a superb result for the team.”

Giampaolo Montavoci and Domenico Cirilli took fourth place in Foresti&Suardi-Roscioli Hotels and Nadir Bin Hendi and Ahmed Al-Suwaidi were fifth in Victory 7. Spirit of Norway managed to crawl round at a snail‘s pace to record a finish and score vital championship points for sixth place.

Spirit of Norway had again been dominant in the morning’s practice session, the Anglo-Norwegian crew posting a solitary lap time of 2m 56.625 to edge in front of Victory 77’s best lap of 2m 57.56s. Qatar 96 recorded a 2m 57.86s lap, but the most encouraging news came from the Qatar 95 camp.

With both Mercury engines replaced overnight, Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Lino Di Biase were boosted after posting laps of 2m 58.48s and 2m 59.26s, their first competitive times of the Middle East Grand Prix meeting. “It was a case of entering the unknown this morning,” admitted Al-Sulaiti before the race win. “There was no reason why there should have been problems with the new engines, but you are always a little anxious to make sure that everything is working properly.”

Class 1 teams will now take a much-needed rest before the third round of the series takes place off the coast of the Almerian fishing town of Garrucha in Spain on June 2-4.

Middle East Grand Prix results (provisional) –
1. Qatar 95 (Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Di Biase (I)) 53m 10.92s
2. Qatar 96 (Al-Thani (QA)/Nicolini (I)) @ 49.26s
3. Jotun 90 (Tandberg (N)/Zaborowski (N)) @ 2m 39.03s
4. Foresti & Suardi 8 (Monavoci (I)/Cirilli (E)) @ 1 lap
5. Victory 7 (Bin Hindi (UAE)/Al-Suwaidi (UAE)) @ 1 lap
6. Spirit of Norway 10 (Gjelsten (N)/Curtis (GB)) @ 2 laps
7. Ceramiche Flaminia 2 (Chillocci (I)/Esperto (I)) @ 2 laps
8. Seveneleven 9 (Giorgi (I)/Nilsen (N)) @ 2 laps
Victory 77 (Al-Marri (UAE)/Sanchez (F)) DNF
King of Shaves 50 (Parsonage (GB)/Sheppard(GB)) DNF

UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship
Positions after round 2 (provisional):
1. Qatar 96 31 pts
2. Spirit of Norway 29 pts
3. Qatar 95 25 pts
4. Victory 7 18 pts
5. Victory 77 17 pts
6. Jotun 14 pts
7. King of Shaves 13 pts
8. Ceramiche Flaminia 12 pts
9. Foresti & Suardi 11 pts
10. Seveneleven 5 pts

(Championship points include bonus points allocated to teams for running
engines for two consecutive engines - one point, per engine, per race)


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


Date issued: 04/05/2006

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