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C1 Qatar Team plans strategy for exciting Class 1 test in Norway

UIM CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP

For immediate release
Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

QATAR TEAM PLANS STRATEGY FOR
EXCITING CLASS 1 TEST IN NORWAY

Defending Class 1 European Champions in determined mood;
Qatar Team to test new transmission system for Norway race

DOHA (Qatar): The Qatar Team is planning a new strategy and counting the days before the fourth round of the UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship gets underway at Arendal in Norway over the weekend of July 21st-23rd.

Qatar 96 driver His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and throttleman Matteo Nicolini currently lie second in the championship, with team mates Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Lino Di Biase in a close third position in their Mercury-engined Qatar 95 hull.

The last round of the series was held in rough sea conditions off the coast of Garrucha, but controversy over penalty laps and penalties marred a potentially thrilling first European race of the year and demoted the Qatar 96 and Qatar 95 boats to fifth and eighth places. The Spirit of Norway crew of Bjorn Gjelsten and Steve Curtis won the race and now lead the championship by 11 points.

“Spain was not the place to evaluate officials about long lap penalties,” admitted His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani, President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF). “I do think there was a lot of confusion and improvements are required, but I think that there were some communications problems during the briefing and information may not have been explained correctly. Mistakes happened because of the rough weather and drivers lost their way. We must remember to use our on-board electronics and the GPS for navigation.”

Sheikh Hassan admits that the Spanish result was a big disappointment after Qatar 96 had arrived in Garrucha with the outright lead in the championship. “I did not expect that result at all. We made some last minute changes, which affected our performance. We were lying in third position until we made a mistake at a turn and we dropped back. Qatar 95 was in the lead, but long lap penalties cost them dearly and they dropped back to eighth.”

But the Qatar Team has a terrific record in Norway, with Sheikh Hassan and Matteo Nicolini winning a Grand Prix in each of the last two seasons. Class 1 racing returns to Arendal for the first time since 2001 - after several years at Trondheim – and the organisers have laid on a new and challenging course inside the fjord, with a small section of the course venturing out into open waters by the lighthouse.

“I would love to win for the third time in Norway,” admitted Sheikh Hassan. “Arendal will be very different. There is limited passing space and that makes a good start even more important. The course is narrow and that places a greater emphasis on the successful combination of the driver and throttleman and the best calculation on when and where to pass another boat and whether to attack strongly in a turn. We need to win, because I want us back at the top of the points’ standings. A podium finish for Qatar 96 and Abdullah and Lino in Qatar 95 is essential.”

The Qatar 96 crew will experiment with a new transmission in the coming days and this should be ready for the race in Norway. “I hope it gives us an advantage in that race,” said Hassan. “Our team is always looking for an improvement, however small, and I hope it will be a step in the right direction in terms of boat performance.”

The current Class 1 UIM European Champions are also keen to defend their title over the next four races in Norway, England, Slovenia and France and the recent cancellation of the Greek Grand Prix will place even greater importance on a top finish in Norway. “It will be important to win the next few races and make sure that Spirit of Norway are behind us if we are to retain the European crown,” admitted Hassan.

UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship
Positions after round 3:
1. Spirit of Norway 49 pts
2. Qatar 96 38 pts
3. Qatar 95 32 pts
4. Jotun 28 pts
5. Victory 77 26 pts
5. Foresti & Suardi 26 pts
7. Victory 7 22 pts
8. King of Shaves 18 pts
9. Ceramiche Flaminia 14 pts
10. Seveneleven 7 pts

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

UIM Class 1 Pole Position Championship
Positions after round 3:
1. Spirit of Norway 55 pts
2. King of Shaves 33 pts
3. Qatar 96 32 pts
3. Foresti & Suardi 32 pts
5. Victory 77 26 pts
5. Jotun 26 pts
7. Victory 7 12 pts
8. Seveneleven 8 pts
9. Qatar 95 3 pts
10. Ceramiche Flaminia 2 pts

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: 27/06/2006

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