C1 Qatar Team makes preparations for Qatar Marine Festival
2009 CLASS 1 WORLD POWERBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP
Qatar Marine Festival Grand Prix, round 1 – April 23rd-25th, 2009
For immediate release
Wednesday, April 15th, 2009
QATAR TEAM MAKES FINAL PREPARATIONS FOR NEXT
WEEK’S QATAR MARINE FESTIVAL CLASS 1 GRAND PRIX
· Rival Victory Team plan final team line-up for Class 1 season
· Opposing teams test in Doha and prepare for race showdown
· Qatar Team members assess the opposition for 2009
DOHA (Qatar): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Abdullah Al-Sulaiti kick-start their challenges for a maiden Class 1 World Powerboat Championship title on April 23rd-25th, but both Qatar Team drivers are fully aware that their rivals will be equally as determined to get the new season underway with a top finish in the Qatar Marine Festival Grand Prix in Doha Bay.
The Qatar Team duo finished fourth and third in last year’s series and will benefit from further testing this week in Doha, before the season starts next weekend. Their respective throttlemen, Steve Curtis MBE and Matteo Nicolini, have also been present at the tests, as the team finalises the set-up that will be used with the Skema V12-engined Qatar 96 and the Sterling V8-powered Qatar 95 in 10 days time.
“For Class 1, it's very important to know when to start and when to finish for planning purposes and to start racing this year from Doha will be very helpful,” said Sheikh Hassan. “It means that we can practice on similar water conditions and weather conditions to race day and that may give us an advantage.”
The Dubai-based Victory Team is sure to be Qatar’s main competition this season, although the final line-up for Qatar is being finalised by team manager, Gianfranco Venturelli. Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Nadir Bin Hendi will race together, while French throttleman Jean-Marc Sanchez is listed on the official team line-up with Mohammad Majed Mohammad Salem Al-Mehairi. The Victory Team has been testing out three new drivers from the world of wooden powerboat racing with a view to entering one into Class 1 this season.
“Changing the team line-up could be an advantage for others to gain on the new crew in a new boat and that may make a difference all the way to mid-season,” admits Sheikh Hassan. “It should be an advantage for us. But, then again, it comes down to what the Victory Team are doing to their boats. We need to see whether they are still compensating technology over driver skills. We will see at the first race next week.”
“Victory will be very strong this season, but the changes always create problems inside a team,” added Nicolini. “The fact that they do a lot of testing and have a lot of time together will work in their favour.”
Nicolini admits that the Jotun, number 90 boat, was very strong in 2008, but there have been changes within the Norwegian challenge as well for Doha. Ugland Offshore Racing’s Welmax 90 boat will be crewed by Christian Zaborowski and Jorn Tandberg this season, with Zaborowski returning to replace Inge Brigt Aarbakke in the team line-up.
“They were very strong last year, but there have been changes as well with the 90 boat. I am sure that they can challenge for the title and I think that the Australian team could well be a surprise in terms of performance and results,” adds Nicolini.
The Italian was referring to the Maritimo Australian pairings of Tom-Barry Cotter and Pal-Virik Nilsen in Maritimo 11 and Giorgio Manuzzi and Peter McGrath in Maritimo 12.
Manuzzi and Kiwi McGrath tested the Maritimo 12 boat in Doha recently, although crew members have been in Doha for several weeks making repairs to the hull that was damaged in Dubai last December. Australian Cotter and Norwegian throttleman Nilsen are expected to test in Qatar this week.
“We are pleased to start the season in Doha,” admits Nicolini. “I am the one who always pushes to have the season start in Qatar and finish in Dubai. We have some very good venues this year and this is very positive for the championship.”
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