OPA Steve Curtis outlines technical changes for Qatar's OPA programme
For immediate release
Thursday, May 13th, 2010
QATAR TEAM’S STEVE CURTIS OUTLINES TECHNICAL
CHANGES FOR QATAR’S AMERICAN RACE PROGRAMME
- Qatar’s Ali Al-Neama set to replace Abdullah Al-Sulaiti in Qatar 95
- Qatar Team reduces power output to fall in-line with OPA regulations
- Stronger and heavier boats for Sheikh Hassan and Qatar Team in 2010
DOHA (Qatar): Qatar Team personnel head to the United States this week to finalise preparations for the start of an exciting new American Offshore Powerboat Association (OPA) race campaign, which kicks off with the opening round at Ocean City in Maryland on May 28-30.
His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Steve Curtis MBE will race in Spirit of Qatar 96 and Matteo Nicolini will enter Spirit of Qatar 95 in the OPA race series, but work commitments have kept Abdullah Al-Sulaiti away from the race programme this season. Sheikh Hassan has now confirmed that Qatari racer Ali Al-Neama will replace Al-Sulaiti in Spirit of Qatar 95.
“”Ali comes from a racing background and has been participating in local pleasure boat racing,” said Sheikh Hassan. “He has never been far from the podium and has had many podium finishes, which made him an obvious first choice to be our new driver.”
The team has been busy in the close season preparing the former Class 1 race boats for the new challenge of OPA racing and that has entailed introducing new safety revisions and changes to the specification and power output of the Qatar Team boats.
“In light of the Victory accident last year we knew that we had to do some work on the safety aspects of the boats,” said Curtis. “We had a feeling that the Class 1 boats were not as strong as they could have been and we introduced a different laminate schedule to strengthen the hulls.
“We looked at the specifications laid down by Victory and the WPPA and decided to work on the bulkhead and to strengthen the hull in general. I suppose this has added around 85kgs to the weight of each boat. We have made the changes to Qatar 96, 95 and the spare boat.”
To ensure that the Spirit of Qatar Team competes on a level playing field with the other Super Cats in the American OPA race series, the QMSF have also reduced the power output of the Qatar team boats for 2010 with the replacement of a 62mm air restrictor with a 60mm version.
Curtis reckons that this has reduced the power of the Skema V12 engines to around 850hp and this has ensured that the Qatar boats fall in line with the specification of the American hulls they will compete against in 2010.
“These changes mean that we are more or less running the same specification as the American boats this season,” added Curtis. “We are slightly heavier than them with the increased tunnel width, but they have upped their power output from around 750hp and we have reduced ours to around 850.”
Spirit of Qatar 95 is currently having its V8 Sterling engines replaced with the Skema V12s, which will now be fitted to all three Qatar boats and were used by Spirit of Qatar 96 in the first two rounds of the Class 1 race programme last year in Qatar and Norway.
His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani, Steve Curtis MBE, Abdullah Al-Sulaiti and Matteo Nicolini competed in the Superboat 850 Extreme class at the Key West World Championships last season, alongside racers in the 750 and 850 categories from the United States. But the Qatar Team is delighted that the classes will be unified in 2010 to form one new SuperCat category.
The Spirit of Qatar Team boats are already in the USA at a Palm Beach base and will be refettled and prepared before making the trip to Maryland at the end of the month.
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