C1 Crunch time for Sheikh Hassan in Qatar Grand Prix
2007 WPPA CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
Class One Doha 2007, The Qatar Grand Prix, November 15th-17th, 2007, round 6 of 8
For immediate release
Wednesday, November 14th, 2007
CRUNCH TIME FOR SHEIKH HASSAN IN
THIS WEEKEND’S QATAR GRAND PRIX
Abdullah Al-Sulaiti will be aiming to repeat his 2006 race`triumph in Doha
DOHA (Qatar): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and team mate Matteo Nicolini will be aiming to finish on the podium and ahead of arch rivals Arif Said Al-Zafeen and Jean-Marc Sanchez, when the three-day Class One Doha 2007, The Qatar Grand Prix, fires into life tomorrow afternoon (Thursday).
After five rounds of this year’s WPPA Class 1 World Powerboat Championship, the Qatar 96 duo trail the crew of Dubai-based Victory 77 by 18 points heading into the final three races of the season. With 20 points available for winning in Doha, 15 for second place and 12 for third overall, Sheikh Hassan knows the task he faces to catapult the Qatar Team into contention for a maiden world title in Saturday’s race.
“The goal is to be ahead of Victory 77,” said Sheikh Hassan. “We need to set up the boat on Thursday and Friday to do exactly that and then get a good spot in Friday’s Pole and make a good start to the race and avoid Victory 77 on Saturday. Winning would be like a dream here in Doha, but a podium is crucial.”
As this year’s series is set to reach a thrilling climax in Doha and the final two races in Dubai at the start of December, the Anglo-Norwegian pairing of defending champions, Steve Curtis and Bjorn Rune Gjelsten, are making a late bid for the title in Spirit of Norway. They endured a miserable start to the year, but now trail Sheikh Hassan by just six points and will have similar goals to the President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) at the Qatar Grand Prix.
“Maybe the improved form of Spirit of Norway could work to our advantage as well,” says Sheikh Hassan. If we can get Spirit ahead of Victory 77 and we have the lead, this could be the story to watch and could force a possible eight-point swing in the championship heading into the final two races.”
Sheikh Hassan will be taking part in his 34th Class One race, where he has taken a pair of outright GP victories and 14 other podium finishes. “Our target is to get as many titles as we can under our belts. The World Championship and the Middle East title are both of the same importance, so we will work to try and win both.”
Qatar 95 team mates Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Luca Nicolini could well be crucial in supporting the Qatar 96 team’s quest for two titles. Al-Sulaiti has been developing Mercury V8 engines for the Qatar Team this season and the boat has become increasingly competitive. He has pushed Qatar 95 into fifth position in the championship and the Doha driver will be keen to overhaul Victory 7 and take fourth place in the series this weekend. Last year Al-Sulaiti won his first ever Grand Prix in Doha and heads into his 19th Class One race keen to add to his winning tally.
But Sheikh Hassan is realistic enough to know that the likes of Christian Zaborowski and Jorn Tandberg could well be a competitive force in the Norwegian Jotun boat, while both the Marco Pennesi/Giampaolo Montavoci and Bard Eker/Chris Parsonage pairings are more than capable of upsetting the apple cart and posting fast lap times in Foresti & Suardi and Negotiator.
Eleven crews are expected to start the Qatar Grand Prix in Doha Bay on Saturday afternoon, but tomorrow (Thursday) spectators will be able to see the boats for the first time in a timed two-hour practice session from noon. Documentation and scrutineering of the race boats will take place in the pits on the Corniche on Thursday morning.
WPPA CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP – after round 5 of 8
1. Victory 77 – A Al Zafeen(UAE)/JM Sanchez (F) – 93pts
2. Qatar 96 – H Al Thani (QA)/M Nicolini (I) – 75pts
3. Spirit of Norway 10 – B Gjelsten (N)/S Curtis (GB) – 69pts
4. Victory 7 – T Al Sayed (UAE)/N B Hendi (UAE) – 44pts
5. Qatar 95 – A Al Sulaiti (QA)/L Nicolini (I) – 36pts
6. Foresti & Suardi 8 – M Pennesi (I)/G Montavoci (I) – 29pts
7. Negotiator 50 – B Eker (N)/C Parsonage (GB) – 23pts
8. Spirit of Norway 20 – T Barry-Cotter (AUS)/P Nilsen (N) – 20pts
9. SeveneleveN 18 – T Polli (I)/N Giorgi (I) – 14pts
10. Jotun 90 – C Zaborowski (N)/J Tandberg (N) - 12pts
11. Fainplast 2 – K Selmer (N)/M Esperto (I) – 5pts
EDOX POLE POSITION CHAMPIONSHIP – after round 4 of 7
1. Spirit of Norway 10 – B Gjelsten (N)/S Curtis (GB) – 80pts
2. Victory 77 – A Al Zafeen(UAE)/JM Sanchez (F) – 49pts
3. Qatar 96 – H Al Thani (Q)/M Nicolini (I) – 45pts
4. Victory 7 – A Al Sayed (UAE)/N Hendi (UAE) – 34pts
5. Jotun 90 – C Zaborowski (N)/J Tandberg (N) 31pts
6. Qatar 95 – A Al Sulaiti (QA)/L Nicolini (I) – 24pts
7. Foresti & Suardi 8 – M Pennesi (I)/G Montavoci (I) – 18pts
8. Spirit of Norway 20 – T Barry-Cotter (AUS)/P Nilsen (N) – 15pts
9. Negotiator 50 – B Eker (N)/C Parsonage (GB) – 8pts
10. SeveneleveN 18 – T Polli (I)/N Giorgi (I) – 5pts
11. Fainplast 2 – K Selmer (N)/M Esperto (I) – 2pts
For further information:
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: email@example.com. www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases).