C1 Qatar Team arrives in Norway for Class 1 showdown

Norwegian Grand Prix, round 4 – Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

For immediate release
Monday, July 17th, 2006


His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani in confident mood;
Qatar Team set to challenge Spirit of Norway on home waters

ARENDAL (Norway): The Qatar Team arrives in Norway this week to begin final preparations for next Sunday’s Norwegian Grand Prix, round four of the prestigious UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship.

His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and throttleman Matteo Nicolini will be joined in the fjord-side town of Arendal by Doha-based Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and his Italian team mate Lino Di Biase. Al-Thani and Nicolini lie second overall in the championship at the helm of the Mercury-engined Qatar 96, six points ahead of their third-placed team mates and Middle East Grand Prix winners Al-Sulaiti and Di Biase in Qatar 95.

“I haven’t tested the boat personally since the race in Spain, but Matteo is confident that the new transmission should give us an advantage this weekend,” said His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani, President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF). “We will sit down and go through everything in the next few days. The results have been very encouraging.

“This will be my first time at Arendal. I do not know the area, but I believe that the course will be very challenging. I suppose it will be similar to Formula One car racing, because the course has many turns and it will develop into a driver’s race, with most of the course in the fjord and a section out on open waters.”

Arendal is a stunning town, tucked away on the fjords of the south coast of Norway. With a population of around 40,000, the town is often called the Venice of Scandinavia because it is built on seven tiny islands with a network of surrounding canals. The venue was last used for a Class One race in 2001.

“The fans in Norway are just amazing. I have never seen such enthusiastic spectators anywhere else on the Class One circuit. I have been told that Arendal is going to be packed with people for race weekend. In my opinion that is what makes a great race venue.”

The Qatar 96 crew will also be able to benefit from the extra bonus points awarded to entrants who are able to use the similar engine package for two successive race meetings. “Qatar 96 will use the engines that we had in Spain last month and we will have fresh engines for Plymouth. Abdullah and Lino will run in Norway with new engines and will run the same ones in Plymouth. There will be no time for testing before the weekend, so we will need to be on our toes as soon as we arrive in Arendal.”

Both Qatar Team boats switched from Lamborghini power to Mercury engines at the start of this season and Sheikh Hassan is delighted that an agreement has been reached on the maximum power output of the former leisure craft power plants. “An agreement was reached at a meeting in Istanbul on the subject of Mercury engine power and restrictions on tuning and everything should now be set for the rest of the season.”

Norwegian Bjorn Gjelsten and British team mate Steve Curtis MBE will start the weekend as favourites to extend their 11-point championship lead in the Lamborghini-engined Spirit of Norway, but Sheikh Hassan is adamant that he and Nicolini have the pace and the experience to retake the championship lead they lost after the controversial last race, held in heavy seas off the Mediterranean coast of Garrucha in Spain at the start of June.

Besides, the Qatar 96 crew have a fantastic record in Norway and clinched two Grand Prix wins in the last two years when the races were based at Trondheim. “It is very important that we push hard for our third win in Norway,” added Sheikh Hassan. “We need to close the gap on Spirit of Norway as fast as possible, so that the job will be easier when we go to Plymouth in a couple of weeks.”

The Norwegian Grand Prix weekend’s timetable gets underway on Friday with the first free practice sessions. A second practice session on Saturday morning (July 22nd) will be followed by the Pole Position compettion on Saturday afternoon to determine the starting line-up for Sunday afternoon’s Norwegian Grand Prix. The 93.84Nm race will take place on a purpose-built course on the Norwegian fjord and will consist of a 7.91 Nm short lap to start, nine normal laps, totalling 69.57 Nm, and two compulsory 16.36 Nm long laps.

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


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: 17/07/2006

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