OPA Sheikh Hassan set for OPA race showdown at St. Clair


St. Clair River Classic, Michigan – July 23/25


For immediate release

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010


  • Sheikh Hassan reflects on most successful ever period for QMSF
  • Talk-N-Trash and JD Byrider prepared to offer fierce resistance
  • Qatar’s Ali Al-Neama and Nicolini aiming for Michigan podium


ST. CLAIR (USA): His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al-Thani has arrived in the United States of America to prepare for this weekend’s fourth round of the OPA Offshore Racing Series on the Pine River at St. Clair in Michigan.


Sheikh Hassan, who is the President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF), and British throttleman Steve Curtis led the American OPA race series after two rounds in Spirit of Qatar 96 and have just returned from Australia, where they won three of the four Australian Class 1 Offshore races in Queensland in a programme put together in conjunction with Team Maritimo Offshore.


“The weekend before last was by far the best weekend ever for the QMSF,” said Sheikh Hassan, in reference to U-96 Spirit of Qatar’s outright victory at the H1 Unlimited race in Michigan and Team Qatar’s third position in the UIM F1 Grand Prix of Russia, which gave team driver Jay Price a joint lead in the Drivers’ Championship after two rounds.


“We led four championships. It’s not easy to keep track of them all but, with today’s technology and live streaming, I was able to ‘attend’, via the internet, the H1 race in Michigan.


“Our boat (U-96 Spirit of Qatar) won four heats and the final and that was the best we could ask for after the team mistake at the last race. I am sure things are progressing in the right direction in the H1 Unlimited series. In F1, Jay (Price) did what he was told and that was to finish on the podium and collect as many points as possible.


“In regard to the OPA and AOPA Championships, we have worked hard on these as a team and now we are being rewarded for our off-season preparations. Our successes in Australia and the USA also show that when everything is equal we can be very competitive in any sport under any conditions with any equipment.”


This weekend’s fourth round of the OPA series takes place on a challenging course at St. Clair in Michigan. “Apparently Michigan’s waters don’t favour Spirit of Qatar 96 and are more suitable to 95, as this boat has more air compression under the tunnel and that is more of an advantage in calmer conditions.


“I think it may be time for Ali (Al-Neama) and Matteo (Nicolini) to push 95 to the podium. I understand that the race venue is excellent and we can expect calm, flat and fast water conditions.”


Ali Al-Neama and Matteo Nicolini have made an impressive start to their challenge for OPA honours in Spirit of Qatar 95, despite the Qatari rookie’s lack of international racing experience.


“After the second race in Florida, Ali started to get faster and more comfortable in the boat,” enthused Sheikh Hassan. “Matteo was impressed as well with how Ali has settled in with the boat and that is why I think 95 may have an advantage on the lake.”


Talk-N-Trash, throttled by Vinny Rifice, and the JD Byrider Team crew of Tony Marcantonio and Mark Kowalski have provided the Spirit of Qatar Team with stubborn resistance at the first two OPA race meetings in Maryland and Florida. Sheikh Hassan expects the American crews to be even more determined this weekend.


“I think Talk-N-Trash and JD Byrider will be very strong. They are shorter boats and with their selected drive they have a better acceleration to top speed. I would not rule it out to have them leading the race, as it’s ideal water conditions for such boats.”


Sheikh Hassan intends to remain in the USA after the St. Clair race to meet the team running the U-96 Spirit of Qatar hydroplane and attend the Seattle Seafair round of the H1 Unlimited Championship at the start of August.


St. Clair race documentation, registration and practice take place on Friday and Saturday, with the competitive OPA races taking place on Sunday (July 25). Races fire into life from noon (19.00 hrs Doha time), with the last of the four races in the various classes set to start at 16.30hrs (23.30hrs Doha time).




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: 21/07/2010

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