C1 Superb Pole Position for Qatar 96 in Mina Seyahi Grand Prix

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
Friday, November 24th, 2006


Class 1 Pole Position title goes to Spirit of Norway;
Qatar 95 crew set to start Mina Seyahi GP in fourth

MINA SEYAHI (UAE): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian team mate Matteo Nicolini will start Saturday’s Mina Seyahi Grand Prix in a superb pole position, after clinching the fastest time in Pole Position qualifying for the penultimate round of the 2006 UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship, today (Friday).

The current leaders of the UIM Class 1 Middle East Championship will start three places ahead of Qatar 95 team mates Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Lino Di Biase, after an exciting Pole competition in the Gulf waters off the coast of Mina Seyahi, west of Dubai.

The fastest time of the day and the advantage of starting the first of two races within eight days in Pole Position deservedly fell to Sheikh Hassan this afternoon. Spirit of Norway began the day with a 20-point lead over Victory 77 in the Pole points’ standings and duly clinched the overall title with the second fastest time.

Qatar 96 now heads into the final Pole Position qualifying of the season for the second race next weekend, still in a strong position to confirm second place in the final championship points table after moving ahead of Victory 77 in the overall standings.

“The team needed this result,” said a delighted Sheikh Hassan. “We had a good feeling yesterday and carried that through to today. Maybe we had a slight advantage in the calmer conditions, but the boat was superb and we were comfortably quicker than Spirit when it really mattered. The Pole Position title is not important to me. What is important now is to make a good start in the race on Saturday and to try and pull away after the first buoy.

“I have been pleased with our preparations for tomorrow’s race,” added last year’s UIM Class 1 European Champion. “We ran one lap on Thursday and were on Spirit’s pace and decided to test another propeller this morning. I was pleased with the way everything went and the fact that we were right on Spirit’s pace again today. Abdullah and Lino had a minor power steering problem, which needed to be ironed out before this afternoon, but both boats should be well-prepared for the race.” Qatar 95 finished fourth.

In Thursday’s first official practice session for the two UAE race meetings, Gjelsten and Curtis set the fastest lap time of 2m 31.70s on their second tour in Spirit of Norway, with the Qatar 96 team in second position with a solitary lap of 2m 32.17s, in the Mercury-engined and Michael Peters-designed race hull which is prepared and tuned by Nicolini Offshore. Qatar 95 ran for four laps, recording a best time of 2m 36.96s, which put the crew within striking distance of the leading runners. Only eight of the 10 boats took to the water to record a lap time during the session.

This morning teams were able to benefit from a second timed practice session in calm and flat water conditions and the Spirit of Norway boat again set a fastest time of 2m 27.06s on its second of three laps, Qatar 96 and Qatar 95 were second and seventh quickest, with Sheikh Hassan topping the Qatar Team’s times on his second lap with a very encouraging 2m 27.34s, a mere 0.28s behind the championship-leading Anglo-Norwegian team. Jotun was a close third in 2m 27.62s, with both Victory Team boats well adrift.

Tomorrow’s (Saturday) Mina Seyahi Grand Prix will start at 15.00 hrs (Dubai time) and will be fought out over a revised start lap of 5.27 Nm, 18 normal course laps, totalling 75.96 Nm, and two compulsory long laps of 9.42 Nm in a total race distance of 90.65 Nm.

Mina Seyahi Grand Prix – Pole Position results (unofficial)
1. Qatar 96 (Al-Thani (QA)/Nicolini (I))
2. Spirit of Norway 10 (Gjelsten (N)/Curtis (GB))
3. Victory 7 (Bin Hindi (UAE)/Al-Suwaidi (UAE))
4. Qatar 95 (Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Di Biase (I)), etc
5. King of Shaves 50 (Parsonage (GB)/Sheppard(GB))
6. Victory 77 (Al-Marri (UAE)/Sanchez (F)), etc

UIM Class 1 Pole Position Championship
Positions after round 7 of 8:
1. Spirit of Norway 105 pts
2. Qatar 96 82 pts
3. Victory 77 75 pts
4. King of Shaves 60 pts
5. Jotun 54 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: 24/11/2006

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