OPA Spirit of Qatar Team prepares for this weekend's Maryland race opener

For immediate release Wednesday, May 26th, 2010   




  • Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis team up in Spirit of Qatar 96
  • Qatar rookie Ali Al-Neama relishes new challenge with Matteo Nicolini
  • Ocean City in the United States set to host Atlantic offshore opener


OCEAN CITY (USA): Qatar’s His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani, Doha-based team debutant Ali Al-Neama, Steve Curtis MBE and Matteo Nicolini will take part in the opening round of the 2010 OPA Offshore Racing Series, presented by GEICO, at Ocean City in Maryland this weekend (May 28-30).


Ocean City – sometimes known as OC – is an Atlantic Ocean resort city in Worcester County, Maryland, and is hosting the first round of the 2010 OPA programme which the Spirit of Qatar Team have committed to entering in the Supercat category.


According to Sheikh Hassan, the team will may miss one round of the series because of a clash with the Holy Month of Ramadan, but are confident that they can clinch the Supercat title nonetheless.


Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis will race in their modified Spirit of Qatar 96 hull, powered by a pair of Skema V12 engines, which have been fitted with 60mm air restrictors in place of the 62mm options to reduce power outputs and bring the former Class 1 race hull in line with American OPA race regulations.


Sheikh Hassan will also combine his driving duties with the role of Qatar team manager. “It’s not an easy role, but I think I can manage. I need to spend more time with the team. I am no longer in any association board and I believe I can work well in the new role.”


Qatar team rookie Ali Al-Neama will team up with Matteo Nicolini for the first time in Spirit of Qatar 95, which is also fitted with Skema V12 engines. “The crew did an excellent job during the winter season to get the two boats ready for the first race and the plan is to get both on to the podium,” added Sheikh Hassan.


“Ali will need to get more seating time with Matteo and to make sure that he is comfortable in the boat and doesn’t take any risks. If they find themselves in a position to reach the podium, they will go for it. But we have explained to Ali that he needs as much seat time as possible.”


The Spirit of Qatar Team is likely to go head-to-head with the formidable American Talk-N-Trash race boat, crewed by Jimmy Winters and Vinny Rifice, on the ocean course off Sunset Marina where strong winds are a likely weather condition.


Sheikh Hassan also faces a fierce challenge from the JD Byrider Team boat of Tony Marcantonio and Mark Kowalski. Mechanical issues plagued the 38-foot Skater crew in 2009, but Marcantonio is determined to benefit from better luck this time around.  Tom Abrams is also sure to feature among the front-runners in the Supercat class and the likes of the Aqua-mania, Miss Geico, JBS Racing, Motley Crew, Popeyes, Team CRC and Renegade boats are likely to enter.


“There are sure to be other drivers who have worked hard over the winter season, so we will have to wait until the first tests to see who is likely to be the main competition,” added Sheikh Hassan.


The Ocean City race weekend gets underway on Friday lunchtime with OPA registration at Sunset Marina. Dry pit inspections, dunk tests and a drivers’ meeting round off the activities on Friday.


The Spirit of Qatar Team will be able to take to the waters of the 5.8-mile course during a two-hour test session from noon (19.00hrs Doha time) on Saturday afternoon. Sunday’s hectic schedule gets underway with physical examinations of the race crews and another drivers’ meeting. The first race of the 2010 OPA Offshore Racing series starts at noon (19.00hrs Doha time) and race two fires into life at 2pm (21.00hrs Doha time).


The Spirit of Qatar Team will take part in the unified Supercat category, with the race taking place over 12 laps and a total distance of 69.6 miles. The Supercats will also share the race meeting with several other boat classes, including Extreme/Turbine, Cat Lite, Class 100, Super Vee and Classes 300, 400, 500 and 600.




For further information:

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





Date issued: 26/05/2010

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