C1 Sheikh Hassan closes in on UIM Class 1 Middle East title

Mina Seyahi Grand Prix, round 8 of 8 –December 1st-2nd, 2006
UIM Class 1 Middle East Championship – round 4 of 4

For immediate release
Monday, November 27th, 2006


Qatar 96 takes slender lead over Qatar 95 to the UAE;
Spirit of Norway set for world title showdown with Victory 77

MINA SEYAHI (UAE): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Matteo Nicolini will start Saturday’s Dubai Grand Prix with a 5.5 point lead over their team mates Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Lino Di Biase in their quest to win the UIM Class 1 Middle East Powerboat Championship title for the first time.

But, while the Qatar Team eyes an historic 1-2 in the regional series, arch rivals Spirit of Norway and Victory 77 head for the Gulf waters off the coast of Mina Seyahi in the UAE with a single point separating them in their bid for the UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship title. Mohammed Al-Marri and Frenchman Jean-Marc Sanchez have a single point lead over Bjorn Gjelsten and Steve Curtis and whoever emerges in front after Saturday’s final race of the season will win the title.

Sheikh Hassan and Abdullah Al-Sulaiti both showed during last weekend’s Mina Seyahi Grand Prix that the Qatar Team has worked hard on improving engine and mechanical reliability over recent weeks. Qatar 96 was the fastest boat on the water last weekend and the President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation is confident that he can add the Class 1 Middle East title to the European Championship he won last year.

“There is no strategy other than to race our own race and finish on the podium again.~ said Sheikh Hassan. “This time I want to make no mistakes. The Middle East Championship to me is not secured yet. I know the points’ difference makes things a bit more relaxed, but over-confidence has never been the case in our camp. We do not believe it is over until it is over.

“There will be no team orders and both boats will race their own race under their own strategies. We will be able to run flat out from the start without worrying about the World Championship. That is for Victory and Spirit to worry about and sort out. We have finished the improvements to our boat after Slovenia and that made us more competitive in Dubai. The weather conditions also helped us in the last race. I will not be able to test with the team, but I am confident that the test results will be positive and we will be able to look ahead to the set-up for 2007.”

Not only is Sheikh Hassan chasing the UIM Middle East crown, but he is also closing in on second position in the Pole Position Championship and looks set to battle for third place in the World Championship with his team mate Abdullah Al-Sulaiti. After the disappointments he suffered in Plymouth and Slovenia earlier this season it has been a superb return to form for the Qatar Team leader.

This weekend's events begin with documentation and the first official practice sessions on Thursday, followed by the final Pole Position competition of the season on Friday afternoon after a second practice session. Teams will be able to benefit from one final shakedown on Saturday morning, before the Dubai Grand Prix gets underway at 15.00 hrs (Dubai time) on Saturday afternoon. The race will be held over a similar course and race distance to last Saturday's Mina Seyahi Grand Prix.

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 58 pts
6. Foresti & Suardi 46 pts
7. Victory 7 39 pts
8. Qatar 95 37 pts
9. Seveneleven 17 pts
10. Ceramiche Flaminia 4 pts

UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship
Positions after round 7 of 8:
1. Spirit of Norway 102 pts
2. Victory 77 101 pts
3. Qatar 95 79 pts
4. Qatar 96 70 pts
5. Jotun 69 pts
6. Foresti & Suardi 56 pts
7. Victory 7 42 pts
8. King of Shaves 31 pts
9. Ceramiche Flaminia 27 pts
10. Seveneleven 20 pts

UIM Class 1 Middle East Powerboat Championship
Positions after round 3 of 4:
1. Qatar 96 46 pts
2. Qatar 95 40.5 pts
3. Victory 77 37 pts
4. Spirit of Norway 36 pts
5. King of Shaves 22 pts
6. Victory 7 18 pts
7. Jotun 16.5 pts
8. Foresti & Suardi 12 pts
8. Ceramiche Flaminia 12 pts
10. Seveneleven 10.5 pts

(Championship points include bonus points allocated to teams for running
engines for two consecutive races - one point, per engine, per race)


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: 27/11/2006

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