C1 Qatar Team to start Norway race in fourth and seventh places

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

For immediate release
Saturday, July 22nd, 2006


Pole Position victory for British King of Shaves crew;
Qatar 96 dogged by engine and transmission woes

ARENDAL (Norway): The Qatar 95 crew of Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Lino Di Biase will start Sunday’s Norwegian Grand Prix in fourth place, after Saturday’s Pole Position race for the Norwegian Grand Prix in Arendal. The Qatar 96 crew of His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Matteo Nicolini suffered a late scare with a broken engine belt, but they were able to start the Pole qualifying after repairs were carried out and recorded the unofficial seventh fastest time on their only lap late in the session.

Chris Parsonage and James Sheppard set the fastest lap of the day in King of Shaves and will begin what promises to be one of the most exciting Scandinavian races for several years in Pole Position. In tricky race conditions, Bjorn Gjelsten and Steve Curtis put themselves in a good position for Sunday’s race in second place in Spirit of Norway, with King of Shaves recording an unofficial session-winning time of 4m 23.34s and Victory 77 crew posting a third fastest time of 4m 26.09s.

It was crucial that the Qatar Team made a good start to their preparations for this fourth round of the prestigious UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship, but engine overheating and transmission problems dogged the build-up to the race for Sheikh Hassan and Nicolini in Qatar 96.

Despite frantic work by the mechanics to prepare the boat for the Pole competition, the Qatar 96 crew suffered a late scare with a broken engine supercharger belt. Technicians worked tirelessly to replace the belt in time for Sheikh Hassan to take to the water, but the Qatar 96 crew returned to the pits after their first lap, content to set the seventh fastest time and spend the remainder of the afternoon working on the boat.

A new rule amendment could easily have worked against the crew on Sunday if they had been forced to start from the rear of the field. Officials have introduced a new ‘two-line’ start procedure with the five fastest boats lining-up on the front row and the next five boats lining-up between 100 and 150 metres further behind. “This made it more important that we had a good result in the official qualifying session today,” said the Qatar Team’s Abdullah Al-Sulaiti.

Al-Sulaiti and Di Biase were fourth fastest in the Pole qualifying with a best time of 4m 27.70s. “It was a good day for us and I am quite happy where we will start the race,” said Al-Sulaiti. “We ran a 4m 31s this morning and then improved that to a 4m 27s lap this afternoon, so that bodes well for tomorrow. It was a bit bumpy out on the course by the lighthouse and the wind got up, but we are in a good position to challenge on Sunday.”

The Qatar Team experienced a disappointing first official practice session on Friday afternoon. The session was won by Gjelsten and Curtis with a best time of 4m 20.79s in Spirit of Norway. Chris Parsonage was second in King of Shaves and Dubai’s Victory 7 posted the third fastest time. But the Qatar 96 crew were dogged by engine overheating problems and a broken water hose and failed to record a practice time.

“We were not able to set a practice time on Friday, but the priority was to get the boat working correctly for the Pole Position competition,” admitted Sheikh Hassan. The morning session was also interrupted by ongoing work to the Michael Peters-designed boat’s transmission. “It was crucial that everything was ship-shape for this afternoon.”

Team mates Al-Sulaiti and Di Biase recorded three practice laps in Qatar 95 on Friday afternoon, with their first lap of 4m 32.10s being the fastest of the session. They took to the water again on Saturday morning to test gear ratios and give the Mercury-engined boat a final shakedown before the Pole competition and set a fastest time of 4m 31.34s on their fifth lap. Spirit of Norway was again quickest, with the Norwegian Jotun boat in second place.

The Norwegian Grand Prix gets underway at 14.30 hrs (local time) on Sunday afternoon. It will be the first UIM Class One GP at this particular Norwegian venue since 2001.

UIM Class 1 Pole Position Championship
Norwegian Grand Prix – Pole results (unofficial)
1. King of Shaves 4m 23.34s
2. Spirit of Norway 4m 25.34s
3. Victory 77 4m 26.09s
4. Qatar 95 4m 27.70s
5. Jotun 4m 29.23s
6. Victory 7 4m 32.04s
7. Qatar 96 4m 35.95s, etc

Positions after round 4 (unofficial):
1. Spirit of Norway 70 pts
2. King of Shaves 53 pts
3. Victory 77 38 pts
4. Jotun 33 pts
5. Qatar 96 32 pts
TBA. Qatar 95 12 pts, etc


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: 22/07/2006

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