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C1 Sheikh Hassan announces unchanged Qatar Class 1 team for 2009 season

2009 CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
Qatar Marine Festival Grand Prix, round 1 - April 23rd-25th, 2009

For immediate release
Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

SHEIKH HASSAN ANNOUNCES UNCHANGED CLASS ONE
TEAM FOR 2009 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP CAMPAIGN

·Qatar's Al-Sulaiti and Matteo Nicolini set for title bid in Qatar 95
·Multiple World Champion Steve Curtis aims to power Sheikh Hassan to maiden title

DOHA (Qatar): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Abdullah Al-Sulaiti will be joined by Steve Curtis MBE and Matteo Nicolini in a two-boat team to challenge for honours in this year's revised Class 1 World Powerboat Championship.

The team is run under the auspices of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) and gets its challenge for a maiden world title underway on home waters with the forthcoming Qatar Marine Festival Grand Prix in Doha Bay on April 23rd-25th. 

"We have been working hard since our entry into Class 1 in 2003 and every year we push hard for the championship title," said Sheikh Hassan, who is relishing the start of the new season in Qatar 96. "In the past it seems that we have had a streak of bad luck for too long. Now I think it's time that the bad luck moved away and we hope for open and clean competition, starting with the Doha race in a couple of weeks."

Sheikh Hassan and British throttleman Steve Curtis have the choice of two hulls to sport the Qatar 96 decals this season - the damaged hull from last year's Doha race has been rebuilt - although the President of the QMSF has confirmed that he will run Skema V12 engines again this season.

"We have not made any changes," adds the 2005 Class 1 European Champion. "We know that we have a winning boat and the winning combination of boat and crew is there. So we have kept everything as it is. We gathered a lot of data last year and we can now compare this with figures from the new Qatar 96 to see where we have an advantage."

Doha-based Al-Sulaiti and Nicolini will persevere with Qatar 95 and its pair of potent Sterling V8 power plants, which powered them to a superb Grand Prix victory in Dubai at the end of last season. "Abdullah and Matteo have a very strong package and a great chance of taking the title," said Sheikh Hassan. "I think the championship is open for both boats. The objective is to bring the trophy home to Doha at the end of the year."

While he is working on his innovative Nicolini Cat in Italy, Al-Sulaiti's Italian throttleman is confident that Qatar 95 can challenge the Victory Team for the world title. "We have a good hand to throw into the equation this year," said Nicolini enthusiastically. "Maybe the 'blue' boat is still the one to beat, but we will be strong from the beginning of the season this time.

"Qatar 96 led the races last season and reliability problems stopped them winning. We have worked in this direction to improve the reliability. The boat that was damaged in Doha is back and we are convinced it will be very strong. For this reason, it will be a difficult decision to decide which boat to use for Qatar 96 this year.

"The Nicolini cat is still in my mind to use this season. The idea is to test the boat on Lecco Lake between the championship races and, when I get the performance I expect, I will put the number 95 on the side and show people that my new project can beat everybody."

Sheikh Hassan admitted that he enjoyed a brief test in the boat earlier this week and the team has planned more testing next week. "It was fun being back in the boat after the close season," he said. "We only tested acceleration, but there is plenty of scope for more work next week."

"The new exhaust system for the boat will not be ready until next week, so we will test the race set-up then," added Nicolini.

2009 Class 1 World Powerboat Championship -calendar
23-25 April  QATAR GP - Doha
5-7 June   SPANISH GP - Alicante
3-5 July   RUSSIAN GP - Moscow
17-19 July   NORWEGIAN GP - Arendal
28-30 August  ROMANIAN GP - Constanta
11-13 September  UKRAINIAN GP - (TBC)
2-4 October  ITALIAN GP - Stresa
18-20 November  MIDDLE EAST GP - (TBC)
11-13 December  DUBAI GP - Mina Seyahi

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: 08/04/2009

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