C1 Qatar Team heads to UAE in bid to seal UIM Class 1 Mid East title

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

For immediate release
Saturday, November 18th, 2006


Qatar 95 and Qatar 96 crews eye regional Class 1 title;
Victory Team and Spirit of Norway set for world title fight;

DOHA (Qatar): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and the Qatar Team head down the Arabian Gulf coast to the United Arab Emirates this week to try and stake their claim on the UIM Class 1 Middle East Powerboat Championship for the first time.

The Qatar 96 driver and his Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini lead the four-round series by two points after two rounds in Doha, while Qatar-based team mate Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Italian throttleman Lino Di Biase are third in the series, four points adrift, and also have a chance of taking the coveted title. The outcome will be decided over two Class 1 races off the Mina Seyahi coast this coming Saturday (November 25th) and on Saturday, December 2nd.

But Sheikh Hassan is fully aware that the task awaiting the Qatar Team in Dubai will not be easy. Defending World Champions Bjorn Gjelsten and Steve Curtis will also be eyeing the title and have the added incentive of trying to prevent the Victory 77 crew of Mohammed Al-Marri and Jean-Marc Sanchez snatching their world title on the tricky Class 1 course near the new Palm complex in Jumeira.

“We need to improve our record in the UAE,” said Sheikh Hassan. “The course is never easy and it is difficult to pass on the inside part of the island. However, there are some long stretches where it is possible to overtake and the use of the long lap strategy will be very important.”

Sheikh Hassan admits that the team will spend time between the two races to continue a test and development programme with Qatar’s Mercury engines and the President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation has confirmed that test driver Mohammed Al-Nasser will take part in the Class 3 race in the UAE to further acclimatise him to a racing environment.

While the Qatar Team sees Victory 77 and Spirit of Norway as the main competition, next Saturday’s Mina Seyahi Grand Prix will mark the return of Chris Parsonage to the line-up in King of Shaves. The British team boat was damaged in a spectatcular crash off Plymouth Hoe during the British Grand Prix in August and the Plymouth-based businessman was forced to miss the subsequent race in Slovenia.

“It’s good to see Chris and King of Shaves back on the scene,” admitted Sheikh Hassan. “Depending upon the weather conditions, that boat could be a real challenger. Normally after a big accident, however, it does take time to get back to the same level of performance and it will be interesting to see how King of Shaves performs.”

Qatar 95 finished fourth overall on the last round off the coast of Portorose in Slovenia, but Sheikh Hassan was forced to retire Qatar 96 for the second successive race. The reigning UIM European Champion suffered engine problems while leading in Plymouth and was lying second in Slovenia when engine maladies again cost him a finish.

Qatar 96 lies third in the Pole Position Championship, 28 points behind leaders Spirit of Norway and a further eight points adrift of Victory 77. With 20 points available for a win, Sheikh Hassan knows that he will need to claim Pole in the Mina Seyahi Grand Prix to stand any chance of winning the Pole title.

In the overall championship, Spirit of Norway heads into next weekend’s action with a 14-point lead over Victory 77. It is still mathematically possible for both Jotun and fourth-placed Qatar 95 to catch the Anglo-Norwegian pairing over the 92.5 Nm race, but the Middle East title is the realistic goal for the Qatar Team. The Michael Peters-designed Qatar 96 boat lies sixth in the championship.

The Mina Seyahi Grand Prix race weekend begins next Thursday (November 23rd) with documentation and the first official practice sessions. A second practice session and the Pole Position competition take place on Friday, November 24th, with the Pole taking place from 15.00 hrs.

Saturday’s Mina Seyahi Grand Prix will start at 15.00 hrs (Dubai time) and will be fought out over a start lap of 5.06 Nm, 18 normal course laps, totalling 79.58 Nm, and two compulsory long laps of 9.86 Nm.

UIM Class 1 Pole Position Championship
Positions after round 6 of 8:
1. Spirit of Norway 90 pts
2. Victory 77 70 pts
3. Qatar 96 62 pts
4. Jotun 54 pts
5. King of Shaves 53 pts
6. Foresti & Suardi 43 pts
7. Qatar 95 28 pts
8. Victory 7 27 pts
9. Seveneleven 17 pts
10. Ceramiche Flaminia 2 pts

UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship
Positions after round 6 of 8:
1. Spirit of Norway 95 pts
2. Victory 77 81 pts
3. Jotun 65 pts
4. Qatar 95 64 pts
5. Foresti & Suardi 56 pts
6. Qatar 96 55 pts
7. Victory 7 42 pts
8. Ceramiche Flaminia 27 pts
9. King of Shaves 22 pts
10. Seveneleven 15 pts

UIM Class 1 Middle East Powerboat Championship
Positions after round 2 of 4:
1. Qatar 96 31 pts
2. Spirit of Norway 29 pts
3. Qatar 95 27 pts
4. Victory 7 18 pts
5. Victory 77 17 pts
6. Jotun 14.5 pts
7. King of Shaves 13 pts
8. Foresti & Suardi 12 pts
8. Ceramiche Flaminia 12 pts
10. Seveneleven 5.5 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: 18/11/2006

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