C1 Qatar Team bids for Middle East title challenge in Dubai

UIM Class 1 Middle East Championship – round 3 of 4
Mina Seyahi Grand Prix, round 7 of 8 – November 23rd-25th, 2006

For immediate release
Tuesday, November 14th, 2006


Sheikh Hassan and Abdullah Al-Sulaiti favourites for regional title;

DOHA (Qatar): After a lay-off of over 10 weeks, the 2006 UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship resumes with the final two races of the year in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday week and at the start of December. The Qatar Team will be bidding to record its first ever regional title by clinching the four-round 2006 UIM Class 1 Middle East Championship.

At the helm of the Mercury-engined Qatar 96, His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Matteo Nicolini head for the calmer waters of Mina Seyahi, west of Dubai, with a slender lead in the regional series, although Qatar 95 team mates Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Lino Di Biase are also in contention for the Middle East title.

There are two races off the coast of the Dubai International Marine Club in as many weekends and the Qatar Team arrives in Dubai without the pressure of having to knuckle down to challenge for the overall world title, which will be fought out between the Spirit of Norway crew of Bjorn Gjelsten and Steve Curtis and the Victory team pairing of UAE driver Mohammed Al-Marri and Frenchman Jean-Marc Sanchez.

“The beauty of our position is that we can now concentrate completely on winning the Middle East Championship,” said Sheikh Hassan, last year’s UIM Class 1 European Champion. “Victory and Spirit will be watching each other’s every move and we will be hoping to take advantage of that and just press on towards the title.”

Away from the glitz and glamour of Class 1 racing, Sheikh Hassan has been busy in his Qatar government role and in his position as President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) in recent weeks. But he has been constantly in contact with throttleman Matteo Nicolini, as the Italian aims to fine tune both the Qatar 95 and Qatar 96 boats before the Dubai races.

“I have been very busy away from Class 1 in the last few weeks with normal work, but I have been keeping in close contact with Matteo on the development of the boats and to make sure that we will be alright when we get to Dubai. We have made some very minor changes that we think may give both our teams an advantage, as we are both in the top three in the Middle East Championship. We need to maintain our position or improve on our points in the next race to leave us in a very strong position for the final race.”

The team also hopes to carry out a series of tests in the UAE, as it has been planned by the sport’s governing body, the UIM, to run the Mercury engines next season with air scoops and a 62mm air restrictor and blow-off valve to limit the boost pressure to around 0.6 bar. The Qatar Team is anxious that this will negatively affect power output and the competitiveness of the Mercury units and testing is the only way to assess the situation in advance of the 2007 season.

The Qatar Team has endured a season of highs and lows so far, with the highlight being Abdullah Al-Sulaiti’s maiden Class 1 success in the Middle East Grand Prix in Doha at the start of May and the low point being the engine problems which cost Sheikh Hassan the outright lead and a potential victory in the British Grand Prix in England in August.

The final two races of the season take place on Saturday, November 25th and Saturday, December 2nd off the coast of Mina Seyahi.


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: 14/11/2006

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