C1 Lap penalties wreck Qatar Team hopes in Spanish Grand Prix

Spanish Grand Prix, round 3 – Sunday, June 4th, 2006

For immediate release
Sunday, June 4th, 2006


Grand Prix victory and championship lead for Spirit of Norway;
Lap penalties ruin Qatar Team’s chances in Spanish Grand Prix

GARRUCHA (Spain): The Qatar Team finished fifth and eighth overall in the Spanish Grand Prix, round three of this year’s UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship, which took place off the coast of the Almerian fishing town of Garrucha, today (Sunday). Outright victory fell to Spirit of Norway, with Pole winners Foresti & Suardi in second place, but lap penalties cost the Qatar Team any chance of taking victory and extending their championship lead.

As we closed for press there were several protests and appeals from various teams about the lap penalties that had been awarded and the results were unofficial pending clarification by UIM officials in Garrucha.

His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini started third for today’s Grand Prix behind the Pole-winning Foresti & Suardi boat and the Anglo-Norwegian pairing of Steve Curtis and Bjorn Gjelsten in the triumphant Spirit of Norway.

After a chaotic start to the race, both the Qatar boats were awarded penalty laps for missing a 'loose' buoy and that meant that the Norwegian Jotun boat had the early advantage over defending champions Spirit of Norway and third-placed Foresti & Suardi, with Victory 77, Qatar 96 and Victory 7 completing the early top six.

As the race progressed and Qatar 96 was forced to run two penalty laps, so Spirit of Norway edged into the lead and held on to take victory in the race and the outright championship lead. Foresti & Suardi finished second overall and Jotun completed the podium places.

Victory 77 was fourth, ahead of Qatar 96 and eighth-placed Qatar 95, with Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Lino Di Biase forced to run three penalty laps, which wrecked their chances of a second successive GP victory. Sheikh Hassan and Qatar 96 have the consolation of a provisional second place in the championship with seven races remaining.

Al-Sulaiti and Di Biase were unable to record a qualifying time for today’s race, after they pulled up with engine problems on the warm-up for Saturday’s Pole qualifying. Strong winds and high seas had decimated both the free practice and Pole Position sessions on Friday and Saturday and Al-Sulaiti’s cause was not helped after the race got underway, when he was awarded three penalty laps after a melée at the start. Al-Sulaiti’s Michael Peters-designed hull was running down in eighth place early on and was never able to recover from the penalty lap situation.

In this morning’s final free practice session, Sheikh Hassan and Matteo Nicolini had set the fastest time with an impressive single lap of 4m 06.65s. Their nearest rivals were Pole winners Foresti & Suardi with a time of 4m 10.26s and third-placed Victory 77 in 4m 14.75s. Neither Qatar 95 nor Spirit of Norway had ventured on to the water. Meanwhile,the Qatar 96 crew had also moved up to third in the Pole Championship after Saturday’s result, a mere point behind second-placed King of Shaves.

The Qatar Team now heads to Arundel in Norway for the fourth race in the 10-round UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship on July 21st-23rd. Races will follow later in the season in England, France, Slovenia, Greece and two events in Dubai will bring the season to a conclusion at the end of the year.

The Norwegian fjords have been a happy hunting ground for His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani in the last two years. He and Matteo Nicolini took their two Class 1 GP wins there in the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

Spanish Grand Prix results (unofficial @ 15.20 hrs) – *
1. Spirit of Norway 10 (Gjelsten (N)/Curtis (GB))
2. Foresti & Suardi 8 (Monavoci (I)/Cirilli (E))
3. Jotun 90 (Tandberg (N)/Zaborowski (N))
4. Victory 77 (Al-Marri (UAE)/Sanchez (F))
5. Qatar 96 (Al-Thani (QA)/Nicolini (I))
6. Victory 7 (Bin Hindi (UAE)/Al-Suwaidi (UAE))
7. King of Shaves 50 (Parsonage (GB)/Sheppard(GB))
8. Qatar 95 (Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Di Biase (I)), etc

* pending UIM officials clarification of lap penalties


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: 04/06/2006

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