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C1 Sheikh Hassan heads to Dubai for most important race of his career

2007 WPPA CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP, round 7 of 8

2007 WPPA CLASS 1 MIDDLE EAST POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP, round 3 of 4

Mina Seyahi Grand Prix – November 29th-December 1st, 2007

 

For immediate release

Monday, November 26th, 2007

 

SHEIKH HASSAN HEADS TO DUBAI FOR

MOST IMPORTANT RACE OF HIS CAREER

 

 

Victory 77 takes series lead into Mina Seyahi showdown

Qatar 96 crew aiming for Middle East and World title double

 

DOHA (Qatar): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian team mate Matteo Nicolini face one of the most important races of their Class One careers off the coast of Mina Seyahi, near Dubai, this weekend.

 

Round seven of this year’s WPPA Class One World Powerboat Championship looks certain to decide the eventual outcome of the title race and the Qatar 96 crew are the only duo in a position to prevent Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Jean-Marc Sanchez from wrapping up the championship in Victory 77 in Saturday’s Mina Seyahi Grand Prix.

 

The Qatar 96 team arrives in the UAE 22 points behind the Dubai crew in the world title hunt and a mere two points behind in the WPPA Middle East Championship standings. Taking a podium finish is an absolute necessity, but results must also go in the team’s favour to delay the outcome of the world title race until the final round the following weekend.

 

The Victory 77 team will head into Saturday’s race under huge pressure to perform on home waters. “Victory performed as we expected in Doha,” said Sheikh Hassan. “They needed a win to enable them to relax, but they did not envisage that we would finish right behind them and still make things difficult.”

 

The Qatar Grand Prix was the closest race so far this year and Sheikh Hassan was again impressed by the performance of the Jotun boat. “Jotun showed a great improvement and performed very well, but again the reliability of the V8 came back to haunt them and they failed to finish. I still believe that they will be just as strong in Dubai.”

 

The President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation is fully aware of the permutations that could give Victory 77 the title this season. “They will just need to finish in the top five and as long as they don’t break they will not push during the race. Maybe they will push hard during Pole to try and upset the starting grid. But I will make sure we do as much as possible to make sure it is as difficult as possible for them. We will push to the last mile.”

 

While the Middle East title is still a very realistic possibility, Sheikh Hassan still wants to return to Doha with two titles. “That is the target. We will not look for anything less. I know that we are very close to the world title and in a strong position with the Middle East Championship. But I really wanted to win our home race in Doha last week. I wanted the fans to know how strong we are and that we could deliver what we promised.”

 

While the team is looking forward to the two crucial races in the UAE, Sheikh Hassan can still reflect on the Doha race with mixed emotions. “Fifth place on the starting grid was not what I anticipated, even though the timing was so close between the top five. I wanted a top three position. The circuit was fast. It was a top speed issue. We do have the top speed, but I believe that we lack the acceleration to get there.”

 

Meanwhile, Bjorn Rune Gjelsten and Steve Curtis lost their chance to retain the world title after engine problems affected Spirit of Norway in Doha. They can no longer win the championship, but Sheikh Hassan knows they will be in the hunt in Dubai. “Every boat is a potential problem for us in our quest for the title. We will race our own race and not allow any boat to disturb our championship goal. We will see how things develop.”

 

Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Luca Nicolini hold fifth place in the world title race in the V8-engined Qatar 95 and have also shown a gradual improvement this season. “We have managed to improve the V8s a little on every race this year,” adds Sheikh Hassan. “That is why 95 has been strong in every race. Development needs time and we cannot risk carrying out research and development on race weekends. That is why we only make improvements where we think something is lacking. We will work hard during the close season to get to the position we want to be in.”

 

The weekend’s action gets underway on Thursday, November 29th with administration and technical scrutineering for the race boats at the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC). The first two-hour official practice session gets underway at noon. Teams will be permitted to take part in a second one-hour practice session on Friday morning, before the Edox Pole Position competition fires into life at 13.30hrs (12.30hrs in Doha).

 

A final one-hour practice session will be allowed on Saturday morning, before teams leave on a parade lap at 14.15hrs and the Mina Seyahi Grand Prix gets underway at 14.30hrs. The official prizegiving will take place at the DIMC breakwater from 16.30hrs.

WPPA CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP – after round 6 of 8
1. Victory 77 – Arif Al Zafeen(UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F)                  116pts
2. Qatar 96 – Hassan Al Thani (Q)/Matteo Nicolini (I)                         94pts
3. Spirit of Norway 10 – Bjorn Gjelsten (N)/Steve Curtis (GB)                 76pts
4. Victory 7 – Talib Al Sayed (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE)                    53pts
5. Qatar 95 – Abdullah Al Sulaiti (QA)/Luca Nicolini (I)                         49pts
6. Negotiator 50 – Bard Eker (N)/Chris Parsonage (GB)                            37pts
7. Foresti & Suardi 8 – Marco Pennesi (I)/Giampaolo Montavoci (I)             35pts
8. Spirit of Norway 20 – Tom Barry-Cotter (AUS)/Pal Virik Nilsen (N)       29pts
9. SeveneleveN 18 – Tomaso Polli (I)/Nicola Giorgi (I)                                 14pts
10. Jotun 90 – Christian Zaborowski (N)/Jorn Tandberg (N)                      12pts
11. Fainplast 2 – Kolbjorn Selmer (N)/Mario Esperto (I)                              5pts

 

WPPA CLASS 1 MIDDLE EAST POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP – after round 2 of 4
1. Victory 77 – Arif Al Zafeen(UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F)                    32pts
2. Qatar 96 – Hassan Al Thani (Q)/Matteo Nicolini (I)                             30pts
3. Spirit of Norway 10 – Bjorn Gjelsten (N)/Steve Curtis (GB)                    23pts
4. Negotiator 50 – Bard Eker (N)/Chris Parsonage (GB)                            21pts
5. Foresti & Suardi 8 – Marco Pennesi (I)/Giampaolo Montavoci (I)          11pts
6. Qatar 95 – Abdullah Al Sulaiti (QA)/Luca Nicolini (I)                          9pts
7. Victory 7 – Talib Al Sayed (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE)                         7pts
8. Jotun 90 – Christian Zaborowski (N)/Jorn Tandberg (N)                         5pts
8. Spirit of Norway 20 – Tom Barry-Cotter (AUS)/Pal Virik Nilsen (N)       5pts
10. SeveneleveN 18 – Tomaso Polli (I)/Nicola Giorgi (I)                              0pts
10. Fainplast 2 – Kolbjorn Selmer (N)/Mario Esperto (I)                              0pts

 

EDOX POLE POSITION CHAMPIONSHIP – after round 5 of 7
1. Spirit of Norway 10 – Bjorn Gjelsten (N)/Steve Curtis (GB)                 100pts*
2. Victory 77 – Arif Al Zafeen(UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F)                     58pts
3. Qatar 96 – Hassan Al Thani (Q)/Matteo Nicolini (I)                             52pts
4. Victory 7 – Talib Al Sayed (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE)                     49pts
5. Jotun 90 – Christian Zaborowski (N)/Jorn Tandberg (N)                        43pts
6. Qatar 95 – Abdullah Al Sulaiti (QA)/Luca Nicolini (I)                         29pts
7. Foresti & Suardi 8 – Marco Pennesi (I)/Giampaolo Montavoci (I)         20pts
8. Spirit of Norway 20 – Tom Barry-Cotter (AUS)/Pal Virik Nilsen (N)       18pts
9. Negotiator 50 – Bard Eker (N)/Chris Parsonage (GB)                            12pts
10. SeveneleveN 18 – Tomaso Polli (I)/Nicola Giorgi (I)                              6pts
11. Fainplast 2 – Kolbjorn Selmer (N)/Mario Esperto (I)                              2pts

* denotes 2007 Edox Pole Position champions

 

Ends

 

For further information:

Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com. www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases).

 

www.class-1.com

www.qmsf.org

 

Date issued: 26/11/2007

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