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C1 Stunning Pole Position for Sheikh Hassan in Montenegro

2008 CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
Montenegrin Grand Prix, round 2 of 9 - May 23rd-25th, 2008

For immediate release
Saturday, May 24th, 2008

SHEIKH HASSAN AND STEVE CURTIS TAKE STUNNING
POLE POSITION FOR SUNDAY'S MONTENEGRIN GRAND PRIX

Fourth position for Doha's Abdullah Al-Sulaiti in Qatar 95
IOTA reaches agreement with QMSF to support Qatar Orphan Foundation

BUDVA (Montenegro): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and British throttleman Steve Curtis MBE will start Sunday's Hypo Group Montenegrin Grand Prix from a stunning pole position on the grid after Saturday afternoon's Edox Pole Position competition at the Adriatic coastal course of Budva in Montenegro.

Qatar 95 team mates Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Matteo Nicolini qualified in fourth position behind the UAE's Mohammed Al-Marri and Nadir Bin Hendi in Victory 1 and the Norwegian Jotun boat. Eight boats took to the water for the Class 1 World Powerboat Championship's first visit to Budva, but it was a triumphant afternoon for the President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation and the Qatar Team.

"This was reward for all the hard work put in by the Qatar Team over the last few weeks," said Sheikh Hassan. "We still have a difficult job to do in the race on Sunday, but it is very pleasing to be at the front of the field today."

It was obvious from the outset that Sheikh Hassan's and Steve Curtis's tweaks and improvements to the Skema V12-engined spare Qatar 96 hull had paid handsome dividends. In the early minutes of the qualifying session they were the class of the field with a stunning lap of 2m 19.78s.

No one could match the Qatar 96 duo and the Jotun crew of Norwegians Bjorge Jacobsen and Jorn Tandberg were their nearest rivals in 2m 24.46s. Al-Sulaiti and Nicolini held third with a best tour of 2m 24.81s, with Dubai's Victory 1 in fourth with 2m 25.21s and Victory 7 in fifth with a time of 2m 28.53s.

Al-Marri and Bin Hendi managed to move into second place in Victory 1 during the second half of the qualifying session with a lap of 2m 21.37s and Qatar 95 moved ahead of Jotun with a 2m 22.67s lap, but Qatar 96 stayed out in front as the clock ticked down on the Edox Pole Position session. Several of the leading boats returned to the water in the closing minutes, but no one was able to upstage the Qatar 96 crew.

"It was important for us to get a good position this afternoon, but our race speed will be dependent upon the weather conditions," admitted Al-Sulaiti. "It is a nice course, but it will be a tricky race on Sunday if the conditions are rough. It was a little choppy this afternoon and we realise now that there are limited places to overtake. The goal will be for the two Qatar boats to be first and second on Sunday and to try and stay well ahead of Victory."

Qatar 96 and Qatar 95 had been the class of the field during Saturday morning's second practice session, with Sheikh Hassan topping the times with a flying first lap of 2m 21.43s. Abdullah Al-Sulaiti posted a best fourth tour of 2m 21.87s, with Jotun setting the third quickest time and both Victory boats - 1 and 7 - down in fourth and fifth. All eight boats took to the water for the Pole Position warm-up session.

Neither French driver Jerome Brarda and Italian throttleman Lino Di Biase in the Windmare Racing entry nor Britain's Chris Parsonage and Norwegian Bard Eker in Negotiator made the start of the Budva race weekend.

Al-Marri and Bin Hendi had set the fastest time in the first timed practice session on Friday afternoon in Victory 1, the UAE pairing posting a quickest sixth lap of 2m 29.75s. Al-Sulaiti and Nicolini were second in 2m 32.28s and Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis were a close third in 2m 32.50s. Seven of the eight boats took part in the session.

"We set a good time," said Qatar 95's Nicolini. "We have not done too much on the boat since the last race, just a small upgrade but it worked. The conditions were not bad, there is some big sea on the outside that makes you fly a little and you try to keep the boat in the water to keep the speed, and inside the bay it's a little tight. But it's a good circuit."

Meanwhile, the International Offshore Team Association (IOTA) has reached an agreement with the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) to launch "Class 1 for Dhreima" - an initiative to support the Qatar Orphan Foundation. "In presenting this initiative I wanted to emphasise how sport, in whatever form or however extreme, can support the values and the importance of the activities of an organisation such as the Qatar Orphan Foundation," enthused Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani, President of the QMSF and IOTA.

The Qatar Orphan Foundation - Dhreima was launched in June 2003 under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser Al-Misnad, Chairman of the Supreme Council.
 
The Montenegrin Grand Prix takes centre stage from 15.00 hrs (16.00 hrs Doha time) on Sunday and will run for 23 laps. Competitors will tackle a short lap of 3.56 Nm, 20 normal tours of 4.09Nm and two compulsory long laps of 4.58Nm in a total race distance of 94.50 Nm.

Montenegrin Grand Prix - Edox Pole Position results (unofficial):
1. Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani (QA)/Steve Curtis (GB) Qatar 96  2m 19.78s 
2. Mohammed Al-Marri (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE) Victory 1   2m 21.37s  
3. Bjorge Jacobsen (N)/Jorn Tandberg (N) Jotun 90    2m 21.98s   
4. Abdullah Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Matteo Nicolini (I) Qatar 95    2m 22.67s   
5. Abdullah Al-Mehairbi (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F) Victory 7   2m 25.73s  
6. Kolbjorn Selmer (N)/Giampaolo Montevoci (I) Foresti & Suardi 8  2m 35.95s 
7. Giorgio Manuzzi (I)/Nicola Giorgi (I) SevenEleven 18    2m 40.87s   

2008 Edox Pole Position - championship positions after round 2 (unofficial):
1. Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani (QA)/Steve Curtis (GB) Qatar 96 35 pts 
1. Arif Saif Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Mohammed Al-Marri (UAE) /Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE) Victory 1 35pts 
3. Abdullah Al-Sulaiti (QA)/Matteo Nicolini (I) Qatar 95   21 pts
4. Bjorge Jacobsen (N)/Jorn Tandberg (N) Jotun 90   21 pts
5. Abdullah Al-Mehairbi (UAE)/Jean-Marc Sanchez (F) Victory 7  11 pts
6. Kolbjorn Selmer (N)/Giampaolo Montevoci (I) Foresti & Suardi 8 8 pts
7. Bard Eker (N)/Chris Parsonage (GB) Negotiator 50   7 pts
8. Giorgio Manuzzi (I)/Nicola Giorgi (I) SevenEleven 18   6 pts
9. Mohammed Al-Nasser (QA)/Luca Nicolini (I) White 4   5 pts

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: 24/05/2008

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