C1 Sheikh Hassan qualifies fourth for Mina Seyahi Grand Prix



Mina Seyahi Grand Prix – November 30th-December 1st, 2007


For immediate release

Friday, November 30th, 2007






Pole victory falls to Spirit of Norway; Victory 77 qualifies in sixth

Al-Sulaiti set to start Saturday’s race in third position in Qatar 95


MINA SEYAHI (UAE): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Italian team mate Matteo Nicolini will start Saturday’s Mina Seyahi Grand Prix – the most important race of their Class One careers – in fourth position on the grid after a nail-biting Edox Pole Position qualifying competition off the coast of Mina Seyahi on Friday afternoon.


Needing to finish well ahead of the Victory 77 crew of Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Jean-Marc Sanchez in Saturday’s race to maintain their hopes of winning the 2007 WPPA Class One World Powerboat Championship, the Qatar 96 duo set a best qualifying time of 3m 08.98s in windy conditions to follow up their fastest overall time in the second practice session. The result leaves them in a strategically good position to stay ahead of Victory 77 in Saturday’s race.


“I don’t really like the position we are in, but we have Qatar 95 alongside us and Victory 77 are behind,” said Sheikh Hassan. “It is going to be so important to make a good start, maybe get the jump on 95 and Jotun and try and keep in with Spirit. Victory needs to finish, so now it is a matter of us doing our best and seeing if there is any luck along the way. It is not going to be easy, but the weather forecast is for today’s rougher conditions to die down, so we will see. There were some quite big waves out there today and you only get shelter from the winds when you come inside the island.”


Doha’s Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and team mate Luca Nicolini were the fastest of all the crews on Thursday afternoon’s first practice session and they set a best lap of 3m 07.70s in the Edox Pole competition and will start the main race from third place.


Bjorn Rune Gjelsten and Steve Curtis wrecked their chance of taking the world title with engine problems in Doha recently, but this year’s Edox Pole Position champions are still major threats to Sheikh Hassan in Saturday’s race.


They set the early pace lap in the qualifying session, with Jorn Tandberg and Christian Zaborowski edging into second position from Qatar 95, Qatar 96 and Victory 77. At the end of the session the Anglo-Norwegian pairing headed the times with a lap of 3m 05.06s and Jotun were second in 3m 06.68s. Bard Eker and Chris Parsonage were fifth with Negotiator in a lap of 3m 15.29s.


Sheikh Hassan set the pace in Friday morning’s second practice session with a fastest time of 3m 04.39s and Al-Sulaiti capped a positive morning for the Qatar Team with the second fastest time of 3m 05.76s. The rival Victory 77 crew were third in 3m 08.62s.


Al-Sulaiti and Luca Nicolini had been the stars of the opening practice session in windy and rough conditions on Thursday afternoon. The session was stopped at one point while a buoy was secured, but Al-Sulaiti posted the fastest lap of the session of 3m 05.6s. Sheikh Hassan was second quickest in 3m 05.48s, with Spirit of Norway their closest rivals in 3m 06.06s. It was an inauspicious start to the weekend by Victory 77: the Dubai crew were seventh fastest with a solitary, but largely insignificant, lap of 3m 55.56s.


“These were two very positive practice sessions for Hassan and myself,” said Al-Sulaiti. “We have again showed improvements and have been on the pace of the V12s. On Thursday afternoon we were the fastest of all the boats. The course is quite technical in places. When you come close to the harbour it is narrow and it will be difficult to get two boats through at the same time. The conditions were excellent for practice on Friday morning, but everyone will be looking at the weather forecast because there is a risk of the weather deteriorating. Saturday’s race will be very exciting.”


A final one-hour practice session will be allowed on Saturday morning, before teams leave on a parade lap at 14.15hrs and the 20-lap Mina Seyahi Grand Prix gets underway at 14.30hrs over a race distance of 92.37Nm. The official prize giving will take place at the Dubai International Marine Club breakwater from 16.30hrs.


EDOX POLE POSITION – Mina Seyahi results
1. Spirit of Norway 10 – Bjorn Gjelsten (N)/Steve Curtis (GB)                 3m 05.06s                 
2. Jotun 90 – Christian Zaborowski (N)/Jorn Tandberg (N)                     3m 06.68s                 
3. Qatar 95 – Abdullah Al Sulaiti (QA)/Luca Nicolini (I)                      3m 07.70s                
4. Qatar 96 – Hassan Al Thani (Q)/Matteo Nicolini (I)                         3m 08.98s                            
5. Negotiator 50 – Bard Eker (N)/Chris Parsonage (GB)                        3m 15.29s                             
6. Victory 77 – Arif Al Zafeen(UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F)                  3m 15.95s                             
7. Victory 7 – Talib Al Sayed (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE)                   3m 19.73s                             
8. Spirit of Norway 20 – Tom Barry-Cotter (AUS)/Pal Virik Nilsen (N) 3m 21.07s, etc

2007 EDOX POLE POSITION CHAMPIONSHIP – after round 6 of 7 (unofficial)
1. Spirit of Norway 10 – Bjorn Gjelsten (N)/Steve Curtis (GB)                         120pts*          
2. Victory 77 – Arif Al Zafeen(UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F)                              63pts             
3. Qatar 96 – Hassan Al Thani (Q)/Matteo Nicolini (I)                                     61pts             
4. Jotun 90 – Christian Zaborowski (N)/Jorn Tandberg (N)                                 58pts             
5. Victory 7 – Talib Al Sayed (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE)                               53pts
6. Qatar 95 – Abdullah Al Sulaiti (QA)/Luca Nicolini (I)                                  41pts, etc                 
* denotes 2007 Edox Pole Position champions




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Date issued: 30/11/2007

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