OPA Sheikh Hassan earns excellent OPA victory at Ocean City

For immediate release Monday, May 31st, 2010       



  • Qatar’s Ali Al-Neama and Matteo Nicolini take fourth in Spirit of Qatar 95
  • Talk-N-Trash snatches second at opening offshore race at Ocean City

OCEAN CITY (USA): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani and British throttleman Steve Curtis MBE finished a stunning first overall in the Supercat category at the opening round of the 2010 OPA Offshore Racing Series, presented by GEICO, at Ocean City in Maryland on Sunday.


Qatar’s Ali Al-Neama and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini, secured fourth position in the Supercat category in the Skema V12-engined Spirit of Qatar 95, while Bob Teague won the Supercat Light category in Amsoil.


“It was a cracking race and much closer than we thought it was going to be,” said Sheikh Hassan, driver of Spirit of Qatar 96 and president of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF). “Talk-N-Trash ran a great race. The crew must have done a lot of work over the close season, because they gave us a real scare early on.


“Maybe we were running a little heavy with the fuel, but Steve and I managed to close them down and take the win. It’s a great feeling to win the first race of the year and that sets us up well for the next one in a couple of weeks time.


“Ali (Al-Neama) drove a sensible race. We had agreed that Matteo and Ali would not push on this one. He (Ali) needs time in the boat and the first two races are ideal for him to gain experience without taking risks. Maybe by the third round he can push a little harder.”


In ideal, albeit slightly hazy, conditions on the Atlantic Ocean course off Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Maryland, the Spirit of Qatar Team was determined to get the season off to a winning start in the 12-lap, 69.6 mile race.


Talk-N-Trash, throttled by Vinny Rifice, and the JD Byrider Team crew of Tony Marcantonio and Mark Kowalski held the initiative from the start, with Spirit of Qatar 96 and 95 in the hunt from the outset in third and fourth places.


Talk-N-Trash maintained the lead through the first lap, but Spirit of Qatar 95 managed to squeeze through into second at the expense of JD Byrider, as the Qatar boats began to push a little harder heading into lap two. Talk-N-Trash finished lap two in front, but Sheikh Hassan began to pressure JD Byrider and held third position in Spirit of Qatar 96.


Talk-N-Trash continued to pull away from JD Byrider through lap four, as Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis began to close in on the leading American pair. Ali Al-Neama was gained valuable experience on his racing debut, but Spirit of Qatar 95 began to lose ground on the leading trio.


Sheikh Hassan managed to pass JD Byrider into second place as the race neared the halfway mark and surged into contention for the outright win on the sixth tour. A lighter fuel load enabled Spirit of Qatar 96 to close in on Talk-N-Trash heading into lap seven and Sheikh Hassan stayed on the leader’s rooster-tails heading into the final third of the race. Spirit of Qatar 95 maintained fourth place.


Sheikh Hassan managed to overtake Talk-N-Trash heading towards lap nine, as the pair pulled clear of JD Byrider and fourth-placed Spirit of Qatar 95. Spirit of Qatar 96 pulled further ahead of Talk-N-Trash on the next lap and began to cruise towards a comfortable victory on the first race of the OPA racing calendar.


The result marked a superb start to the new season of American racing for the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) and the Spirit of Qatar Team, who will remain in the United States of America to prepare thoroughly for the second round of the series at Sunny Isles in Florida on June 11-13.




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: 31/05/2010

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