C1 Fourth place for Qatar 95 in Slovenian Grand Prix

Slovenian Grand Prix, round 6 – Sunday, September 3rd, 2006

For immediate release
Sunday, September 3rd, 2006


UIM European title for GP winners Spirit of Norway
Qatar 96 holds second but succumbs to engine woes;

PORTOROSE (Slovenia): Qatar 95 team mates Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Italian throttleman Lino Di Biase finished fourth overall in today’s Slovenian Grand Prix, round six of the 2006 UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship. The race was won by Steve Curtis and Bjorn Gjelsten in Spirit of Norway and the Anglo-Norwegian pairing duly clinched the 2006 UIM Class 1 European Championship title.

His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini were forced out of the race on the seventh lap with a broken water pipe in the Mercury-engined Qatar 96, after holding second place behind Pole winners Spirit of Norway for several laps from the start.

“We were running well, trailing closely behind Spirit, but then a water pipe failed and flooded one of the engines,” said a bitterly disappointed Sheikh Hassan. “We started to lose power and slow and there was no alternative but to pull out of the race. Once again it’s a big disappointment and a small engine component that has let us down. We proved again that we are very competitive and have the pace to win the races. But there is still some work to the done with the engines.”

Curtis and Gjelsten led the way into the first turn and managed to fend off the advances of Qatar 96 over the opening two laps, with Victory 77 and Victory 7 trailing in third and fourth places. The Norwegian Jotun boat, Spirit of Norway and Victory 77 had entered today’s race – one of the biggest sporting events in Slovenian history - with one eye on trying to confirm the UIM European Championship title that Sheikh Hassan and Matteo Nicolini had won for the first time in 2005. It was a winner takes all situation for the trio.

Spirit of Norway maintained the initiative through lap three and Qatar 96 headed Victory 7, Victory 77 and team mates Qatar 95 through lap six. Jotun took the first of the compulsory two long laps in a strategic bid to race through clearer water.

But lap seven spelt the end of another promising run for Qatar 96 and Sheikh Hassan and Matteo Nicolini were forced to return to the pits with a broken water pipe, all but ending their chances of winning this year’s Class 1 World title.

By lap eight both Victory 77 and Jotun had carried out their two long laps and looked set to pursue Curtis and Gjelsten to the finish. Foresti & Suardi sprang into contention for a podium place by lap nine.

Victory 7 was sidelined on the ninth tour with engine problems as the tension mounted and Victory 77 trailed Spirit into the closing stages, with Foresti & Suardi and Qatar 95 fighting for the final podium positions through lap 13. The top four held station over the next couple of laps, as Curtis and Gjelsten edged ever closer to the European title and Al-Sulaiti and Di Biase tried to claw Qatar 95 into third position.

The leading quintet held station, however, over the final laps and Spirit of Norway managed to clinch the European title and extend the team’s lead in the overall championship, with Victory 77, Foresti&Suardi, Qatar 95 and Jotun completing the top five on the day.

Seven of the nine boats had taken to the water for this morning’s final practice session in ideal conditions and Spirit of Norway posted the fastest time of 2m 45.17s, with Victory 77 second quickest in 2m 48.21s. Qatar 96 carried out a couple of laps of practice and set a fastest time of 2m 48.75s.

The final two races in this year’s UIM Class 1 calendar will take place in the United Arab Emirates at the end of November and the start of December.

Slovenian Grand Prix positions – (unofficial @ 15.45 hrs)
1. Spirit of Norway 10 (Gjelsten (N)/Curtis (GB))
2. Victory 77 (Al-Marri (UAE)/Sanchez (F))
3. Foresti & Suardi 8 (Monavoci (I)/Cirilli (E))
4. Qatar 95 (Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Di Biase (I))
5. Jotun 90 (Tandberg (N)/Zaborowski (N)), etc
Victory 7 (Bin Hindi (UAE)/Al-Suwaidi (UAE)) DNF
Qatar 96 (Al-Thani (QA)/Di Biase (I)) DNF


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: 03/09/2006

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