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Sheikh Hassan eyes podium finish in UIM Dubai GP

UIM CLASS 1 SUPERFUND WORLD POWER BOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
DUBAI GRAND PRIX, Round 8 of 8
December 10-12th, 2003

For immediate release
Monday, December 8th, 2003

QATAR'S SHEIKH HASSAN EYES TOP FINISH
TO DEBUT CLASS 1 SEASON IN DUBAI GRAND PRIX

Qatar 96 Team aims for top podium finish in 2003 UIM Middle East Championship

DUBAI (UAE): Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani, the President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation, and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini hope to end their first season together in the UIM Class 1 Superfund Power Boat Championship in winning style, when they tackle the Dubai Grand Prix, the eighth and final round of the series, on Friday (December 12th).

The event is also the third round of the UIM Class 1 Middle East Power Boat Championship and the pair lie in fourth position in the Michael Peters-designed Qatar 96 boat, a mere seven points behind the second-placed Highlander and Victory 7 boats in the regional championship's points standings - pending an official decision today (Monday) about the disqualification of Maritimo Offshore from the recent race in Fujairah.

Taking outright victory in the final race of the season off the coast of Dubai would give the Qatar 96 Team either the runner-up spot or a top three finish in the regional series at their first attempt. This is the second season of the UIM Middle East series - the UAE's Ali Nasser and Ali Al-Qama won the inaugural series in 2002.

~I am very excited about this weekend's race,~ admitted Sheikh Hassan. ~I have studied the points very carefully and we have a fantastic chance to finish second or third in the Middle East Championship. We showed in Fujairah that we are competitive and have the pace to be very fast.

~It will be critical to achieve a good performance in the Pole Position competition on Thursday, because we need to start well on Friday and not run in the wake of any boats which could slow us up. We set our boat up for rough weather conditions last weekend in Fujairah and the bad weather did not materialise. So we are not too concerned if the weather deterioriates. I will be quite happy to race in rough conditions.~

Despite the cancellation of the Pole Position competition on the opening round of the UIM Class 1 series in Portugal and the fact that they did not take part in the German race at Travemunde, Sheikh Hassan and Matteo Nicolini have produced a steady and effective improvement this season, which was capped with their first podium finish during the Pole Position competition in Fujairah last Thursday.

Sheikh Hassan admits that he and Matteo Nicolini are still learning about their powerful Victory-built boat, which was debuted to sixth place overall in October's Qatar Grand Prix. But they are relishing the challenge of finishing their first competitive season of Class 1 together in style.

Their performance in last weekend's Fujairah Grand Prix moved the pair up to sixth place in the UIM Class 1 World Championship points' standings, pending today's (Monday) official decision about the Maritimo entry. Spirit of Norway has already clinched this year's Pole Position title and UIM Class 1 World Championship.

This weekend's race consists of a 6.4 Nm start lap and 17 laps of a 5.8 Nm course, which skirts the new Palm Jumeira island complex on several occasions. The maritime action is being held in conjuction with a Lifestyles weekend of fashion, music and entertainment and annually draws record crowds to the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) in Mina Seyahi, south of Dubai.

Held under the chairmanship of Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman DIMC and Chairman Victory Team, the weekend's action gets underway on Wednesday with an official practice session. Further practice and the Pole Position competition take place on Thursday, with the main race starting at 14.30 on Friday.

Ends

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Date issued: 08/12/2003

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