C1 Romanian challenge awaits Qatar Class 1 team

Romanian Grand Prix, round 5 - August 29th-31st, 2008

For immediate release
Tuesday, August 26th, 2008


Sheikh Hassan seeks maiden win in Romania
Qatar 95's Nicolini opts for V8 Sterling engines

DOHA (Qatar): The Qatar Class 1 World Powerboat Championship team heads to Romania this week to prepare for the Romanian Grand Prix, round five of the eight-event series. His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and British throttleman Steve Curtis MBE currently lie third overall in the championship in Qatar 96, eight points adrift of second-placed Victory 7 and three clear of their Qatar 95 team mates Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Matteo Nicolini.

The race will be based at Mamaia for a second successive season and is the last round of the European Championship, although Sheikh Hassan admits that it is no longer possible to win the title that he claimed back in 2005.

"As far as the European Championship is concerned, it has indeed slipped away for 2008," admits Sheikh Hassan. "We have worked so hard to improve our spare boat, but it was not quick enough to collect the points we needed to challenge for this title. But we can still take second place and that must be the goal for the weekend. The appeal points (there is currently an appeal in place by the Victory Team) are very important to reduce the gap, because we do not want the overall World Championship to finish early. The driver's error was already made and it was visible to all on video. So I do not understand the basis and foundation of the Victory Team's appeal."

The Class 1 Middle East Championship and, indeed, the world title are still very much up for grabs and Sheikh Hassan believes that both Qatar 95 and Qatar 96 will show very different form on the remaining four rounds of the series, beginning with the Romanian race on Sunday.

"Qatar 95 will run the V8 Sterling engines and 96 has been improved in terms of handling," adds Sheikh Hassan. "I believe that both boats can have a go for the Middle East title and will still be serious contenders for the world title."

The Qatar Team boats were second and third in the Romanian race last season, but the President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation insists that the course will be different in 2008. "The new course is different according to the advanced notification sent out. The organisers have added one extra yellow buoy to make it slower and to give the spectators a better view of the action. To me it's still a fast course, even though it's on a freshwater lake."

Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis will not use the rebuilt Qatar 96 again in 2008 and the team principal insists that it will be prepared ready for the new regulations that come into force in 2009. "The current spare boat we are running is not too far away from the crashed boat in terms of performance, but we will ensure that the 2009 boat is very fast."

Mohammed Al-Nasser and Luca Nicolini will not be running the third Qatar 9 hull in Romania, as the Qatar Team switches its attention to a good performance for both Qatar 96 and Qatar 95 in Eastern Europe. The Norwegian Jotun boat took a dramatic win in Norway recently and Sheikh Hassan admits that Jotun and the Victory Team are the main rivals.

"It would be nice to see Jotun on the podium again in Romania. It's good to see the V8s winning. "I have a disappointed feeling about the season so far," admits Sheikh Hassan. "We had very high hopes for this year. We will continue to work hard and try and win the title."

Matteo Nicolini is still determined to push for the European title until it is mathematically impossible to win. "You can never say it is over until it is mathematically impossible," insists Nicolini. "We have been working on a very competitive package for Romania and my feeling of working with Abdullah is improving with every race. If the new package works well, then we will have the reliability and could challenge really hard for the Middle East Championship over the last three races."

Nicolini concurs with Sheikh Hassan about the emergence of Jotun as a serious force this season. "This is a good surprise for the championship, but it's an extra team that is difficult to beat. If you add in the Victory Team, then there are three strong boats to beat. We will need to work on some team tactics with Qatar 96 to make sure that we win a race, because it has been too long without a win."

Matteo is determined to end the 2008 season on a high note and a top result in Romania is vital. "The decision taken by Sheikh Hassan at the start of the year was a very bold move and a big change for the team. But it was the right one. To have Steve with us is very good and for me to race with Abdullah is also good. We are getting better and better and have a good feeling.

"Where I am very disappointed is in the area of electronics. That must be banned from our sport, otherwise this discipline will finish very soon. It was a positive step that the IOTA took with the decisions at the last meeting in Milan to cancel the electronics, to ban steerable drive and to have a single supplier for propellers. They also decided to restrict engine rebuilding. These are all good steps for our sport. These points must be implemented for 2009, then we will see the number of teams increase and races will become more exciting with less budget required to succeed."

This weekend's action will take place on Mamaia's Lake Siutghiol, known locally as the Lake of Milk. Mamaia is a popular tourist resort, near Constanta, on the Black Sea and is hosting a Class 1 race for the second year.

The race timetable gets underway on Friday (August 29th) with the first official practice session on the course between 14.30hrs and 16.30hrs. There will be a second 90-minute practice session from 11.00hrs on Saturday morning and the Edox Pole Position competition starts at 15.30hrs. The Qatar Team currently lie second and fourth in this championship, with Qatar 96 a mere eight points adrift of the leading Victory 7 boat.

Race day (Sunday) begins with a final one-hour practice session from 11.00hrs and the Romanian Grand Prix roars into life at 15.30hrs. The race will take place over 21 laps and a distance of 94.77Nm.

CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP - positions after round 4
1. Victory 1 - M Al Marri (UAE)/N Bin Hendi (UAE) - 77pts
2. Victory 7 - A Al Mehairbi (UAE)/JM Sanchez (France) - 59pts
3. Qatar 96 - H Al-Thani (Qatar)/S Curtis (England) - 51pts
4. Qatar 95 - A Al-Sulaiti (Qatar)/M Nicolini (Italy) - 48pts
5. Jotun 90 - B Jacobsen (Norway)/J Tandberg (Norway) - 42pts
6. Foresti & Suardi 8 - K Selmer (Norway)/G Montavoci (Italy) - 32pts
7. Roscioli Hotels Roma 88 - S Carrasco (Spain)/D Cirilli (Spain) -12pts
8. SeveneleveN 18 - G Manuzzi (Italy)/N Giorgi (Italy) - 7pts
9=. Negotiator 50 - B Eker (Norway)/C Parsonage (England) - 4pts
9=. Qatar 9 - M Nasser (Qatar)/L Nicolini (Italy) - 4pts

(Championship points include bonus points allocated to teams for running engines for two consecutive races - one point, per engine, per race)

CLASS 1 EDOX POLE POSITION - positions after round 4 (Norway cancelled):
1. Victory 1 - 55pts
2. Qatar 96 - 47pts
3. Jotun 90 - 36pts
4. Qatar 95 - 28pts
5. Victory 7 - 20pts
6. Foresti & Suardi 8 - 11pts
7. SeveneleveN 18 - 10pts
8. Negotiator 50 - 7pts
9. White 4 - 5pts
9. Qatar 9 - 5pts
11. Roscioli Hotels Roma 88 - 2pts
12. Windmare 21 - 0pts


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


Date issued: 26/08/2008

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