Austrian Class 1 nets Sheikh Hassan fourth place


For immediate release
Sunday, September 13th, 2003


Accident destroys Maritimo boat; Victory entries retire; Bad weather mars qualifying

LAKE TRAUNSEE (Austria): Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani, the President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation, completed his challenge for honours in three European rounds of the
Superfund Class 1 World Power Boat Championship by finishing a troublefree fourth overall in the Traunsee Trophy-Austrian Grand Prix, today (Sunday).

The newly-formed Qatar 96 Team will now switch its attentions to the arrival of a new Victory-prepared boat for the final three rounds of the world series in the Middle East.

Partnered by Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini, the 35-year-old Qatari struggled along with the other eight runners to master tricky visibility and heavy rain, which marred Saturday's qualifying session. But excellent weather conditions prevailed today and Hassan was pleased with fourth position.

~It was a dramatic race today,~ said Sheikh Hassan. ~On the first lap the Maritimo crew had a big accident and destroyed their boat. Both Victory boats retired later on with mechanical problems, but we kept going and finished fourth behind Spirit of Norway, Jotun and Highlander.

~I was pleased that we were even able to finish qualifying in the mist on Saturday,~ said Hassan. ~Today was better, but I prefer to race on the ocean rather than on a lake.~

Situated at 425 metres above sea level, picturesque Lake Traunsee played host to a round of the world series for the first time. Today's nine-boat race took place over 100 Nautical miles and featured 16 laps of a devised circuit. It was only the second ever Class One race to be held on a lake after Montreux in 1996.

At the helm of the rented Damas boat, the pair have already finished sixth overall in both the British and Scandinavian Grand Prix this season. They will test their new Victory-built boat for the first time in Dubai on October 4-5th, before the official unveiling of the new team in Doha on October 21st.

Norwegian Bjorn Gjelsten and British team mate Steve Curtis began the Austrian race in Spirit of Norway with a 32-point lead over their nearest rivals after winning three of the previous four races. They set their fourth consecutive pole position, despite heavy rain and misty conditions and went on to win the Austrian race, with Jotun and Highlander completing the podium places.

Sheikh Hassan will drive his new Michael Peters-designed Victory boat for the first time in competition on his home round of the series off the Doha coast in October, prior to the final two rounds in Dubai and Fujairah on December 4/5th and 11/12th.

~I am really looking forward to getting into the new boat,~ enthused Sheikh Hassan. ~We have the full support of the Victory Team. It is fitting for me that we will race the new boat for the first time in Doha.~


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Date issued: 14/09/2003

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