C1 Sheikh Hassan aims for Oslo Class 1 victory to boost Euro title hopes

Scandinavian Grand Prix, August 10th-12th, 2007, round 3 of 8

For immediate release
Saturday, August 4th, 2007


Qatar 96 Team return to venue of maiden Class 1 success in 2004;
Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Luca Nicolini aim to bounce back in Norway

DOHA (Qatar): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani, Doha-based team mate Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and members of the Qatar Class 1 World Powerboat Championship team head back to Norway this week to prepare for next Sunday’s Oslo-based Scandinavian Grand Prix, round three of the WPPA Class 1 World Powerboat Championship.

The Qatar 96 and Qatar 95 pair currently hold equal second and fifth positions in the eight-round series, but Sheikh Hassan insists that the team need to improve the performance in Oslo, the scene of his first ever Class 1 Grand Prix victory back in 2004.

“Second place at the last race in Arendal was not good enough,” said Sheikh Hassan, the President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) who will be tackling his 31st Class 1 Grand Prix in Oslo. “We really had hoped for a better performance. I believe we had a great chance to win the race in Arendal, but we were late getting the boat up to speed at the start due to bad communication with the pace boat. Now we are tied on 31 points with Victory 7 and still behind Victory 77. I hope we can now pull away from the Victory Team and try and fulfil the first goal of a second European title.”

Sheikh Hassan and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini clinched the Class 1 European title in 2005, in addition to winning the Grand Prix at Trondheim in Norway, and Qatar 96 will be bidding for a third Norwegian Grand Prix victory in four years when the Skema V12-engined hull lines up in Sunday’s race.

“It’s very important for us to finish on the podium in Oslo,” added Sheikh Hassan. “We need to pull away from the Spirit of Norway boat, because they (Bjorn Gjelsten and Steve Curtis) are 15 points behind us in the championship and will face a big struggle to pull back the points’ deficit if we have a good run. We need to win in Oslo to close the gap on leaders Victory 77 and put the pressure on them for the European Championship decider in Romania in September.”

The Qatar Team leader insists that the Oslo course is open and not as tight as Arendal, but boats will tackle a left-hand course on this occasion and, according to Sheikh Hassan, this makes it more of a challenge for the throttleman to indicate instructions to his driver. “What may be okay for the throttleman may not be okay for the driver, based on his judgement,” admits Sheikh Hassan.

“I have great memories of that first Class 1 victory in Oslo in 2004. Those happy memories will never go away. The result came after a big accident at the beginning of the season in Lisbon, a non finish in Spain and a third overall in Plymouth at the British Grand Prix. The Oslo win was the best gift of the year for the team.”

Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and throttleman Luca Nicolini are working hard with the Qatar Team to bring the Mercury V8-engined Qatar 95 up to speed. “We are all working hard to get Qatar 95 up to speed. The mechanical breakage in Arendal was unfortunate, but we have solved the problems and the boat should be ready well in time for Oslo.”

Although the Victory Team boats have taken the early season initiative, Sheikh Hassan insists that the Spirit of Norway operation will bounce back strongly in the coming races. “Spirit have struggled, but we will not be taking them off the list of boats to look out for, as they can bounce back very quickly. I am sure they have addressed the problems that befell them in the first two races in Greece and Norway and will be ready to challenge both the Victory and Qatar teams in Oslo.”

Sheikh Hassan insists that the second Norwegian venue is no less popular than Arendal and he will need to be fully focused when action gets underway with the first timed practice sessions on Friday, August 10th. Further official practice will follow on Saturday morning, before the Edox Pole Position competition takes place on Saturday afternoon. The Scandinavian Grand Prix fires into life on Sunday afternoon in Oslo.

2007 WPPA Class 1 World Powerboat Championship – positions after round 2:
1. Arif Said Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F) Victory 77 42 pts
2. Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani (QA)/Matteo Nicolini (I) Qatar 96 31 pts
2. Ahmed Al-Suwaidi (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE) Victory 7 31 pts
4. Bjorn Rune Gjelsten (N)/Steve Curtis (GB) Spirit of Norway 10 16 pts
5. Abdullah Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Luca Nicolini (I) Qatar 95 13 pts
6. Marco Pennesi (I)/Giampaolo Montavoci (I) Foresti & Suardi 8 8 pts
7. Tomaso Polli (I)/Nicola Giorgi (I) SeveneleveN 18 7 pts
7. Tom Barry-Cotter (AUS)/Pal Virik Nilsen (N) Spirit of Norway 20 7 pts
9. Bard Eker (N)/Chris Parsonage (GB) Negotiator 50 4 pts

2007 Edox Pole Position Championship – latest positions:
1. Bjorn Rune Gjelsten (N)/Steve Curtis (GB) Spirit of Norway 10 20 pts
2. Arif Said Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F)Victory 77 15 pts
3. Ahmed Al-Suwaidi (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE) Victory 7 12 pts
4. Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani (QA)/Matteo Nicolini (I) Qatar 96 9 pts
5. Abdullah Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Luca Nicolini (I) Qatar 95 5 pts
6. Tom Barry-Cotter (AUS)/Pal Virik Nilsen (N) Spirit of Norway 20 4 pts
7. Marco Pennesi (I)/Giampaolo Montavoci (I) Foresti & Suardi 8 3 pts
8. Domeninco Cirilli (E)/Kurt Olsen (N) Veneta Marina Foresti & Suardi 2 2 pts
9. Tomaso Polli (I)/Nicola Giorgi (I) SeveneleveN 18 1 pt


Pic caption
Qatar 96 pictured in action during the recent Class 1 race meeting at Arendal in Norway.

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: 04/08/2007

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