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Qatar 96 Class 1 boat takes third place in Fujairah GP

SUPERFUND CLASS 1 WORLD POWER BOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
FUJAIRAH GRAND PRIX, Round 7 of 8
December 4-5th, 2003

For immediate release
Friday, December 5th, 2003

QATAR'S SHEIKH HASSAN TAKES CAREER-BEST
THIRD POSITION IN FUJAIRAH GRAND PRIX

Protest moves Qatar 96 into podium placing;
Victory for Spirit of Norway; Maritimo disqualified

FUJAIRAH (UAE): Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani, the President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation, and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini finished a superb third overall in the Fujairah Grand Prix, the seventh round of the Superfund UIM Class 1 Power Boat Championship and the second round of the 2003 Middle East Championship.

The pair completed the exciting race over calm waters off the East coast of the Emirates in fourth position before a post-race protest was lodged against third-placed finishers Maritimo Offshore. The Maritimo Offshore entry of Australian Bill Barry-Cotter and Kiwi Peter McGrath had missed one of the marker buoys during the race, although they insisted it had been on safety grounds.

There was no question about the outright winners Spirit of Norway, who continued their domination of the UIM Class 1 racing scene with victory over second-placed Victory 7. But the official results were delayed while race officials discussed the Maritimo Offshore protest, which was eventually decided in favour of the Qatar 96 Team, who took their first ever podium placing.

~It was my first time racing here in Fujairah,~ said Sheikh Hassan. ~It was an excellent race, really exciting. We held third position for six laps of the 16 and were having a tremendous fight with the Maritimo boat. Then, I suppose, we came wide into a turn and left the door open for them to come through and take third place.

~We had made some changes to our boat before the race and these worked well. I am delighted with our performance. We even managed to go quicker than we had during the Pole Position competition on Thursday. But Maritimo missed a buoy and this is not permitted in the regulations. Rules are rules, so we made a protest. They should have returned and made another pass at the marker.~

Today's race was held over a total distance of 103.2 Nm. The start lap measured 7.2 Nm and the race continued over 16 x 6Nm laps. The Fujairah Grand Prix was held for the first time in 1998. Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and Matteo Nicolini finished an excellent third overall in Thursday's Pole Position competition.

After clocking an initial lap of 3m 41.72s, they improved on this time on their next two runs to finish with a fastest lap of 3m 38.12s at an average speed of 119.66 mph. That was sufficient to beat both the Victory 7 and Victory 77 boats, although their Michael Peters-designed Qatar 96 boat finished behind Pole Position champions Spirit of Norway and second-placed Maritimo Offshore.

~It was my first podium finish and my best performance in the Pole Position competition in only my second race in the boat,~ admitted a delighted Sheikh Hassan. ~We started with a good time and then pressed harder over the next two runs to pick up time in places where we knew we could be quicker. It was a great result for the whole team.~

The final round of the Superfund UIM Class 1 Power Boat Championship - the Dubai Grand Prix - takes place off the coast of the UAE's sporting capital next Friday (December 12th).

Ends

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www.class-1.com

Date issued: 05/12/2003

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