OPA 'Thunder on the Gulf' title challenge for Spirit of Qatar Team in Alabama

THUNDER ON THE GULF, Orange Beach, Alabama – October 15-17

For immediate release
Thursday, October 14th, 2010


· Sheikh Hassan and Ali Al-Neama set for American showdown
· Friday and Sunday races to determine world title outcome

ORANGE BEACH (USA): The Spirit of Qatar Team rounds off its highly successful 2010 campaign of races in the OPA Offshore racing calendar with the Thunder on the Gulf race meeting in the United States of America from Friday (tomorrow) to Sunday.

His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and Qatari team-mate Ali Al-Neama will compete in the two winner-takes-all world title races at Orange Beach in Alabama on Friday and Sunday.

Sheikh Hassan and British throttleman Steve Curtis clinched the American Supercat Championship at the most recent OPA race at Solomons Island in Maryland and the Spirit of Qatar 96 crew are hoping to end the racing programme Stateside with another win.

Al-Neama and Italian throttleman Matteo Nicolini won one round together earlier in the season and pushed their Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) colleagues all the way in Maryland two weeks ago.

“The final meeting of the programme is a world title race, so everyone arrives in Orange Beach with zero points and it is all to play for,” enthused Sheikh Hassan. “The weekend will follow a two-race format, so we will work on maximizing the points to ensure that we can take the title back to Doha for the QMSF.

“For sure, the goal is to claim the world title. The races will take place in open water conditions and this suits us perfectly. It’s vital that we get both boats to the finish to give us a chance of claiming the trophy.”

Sheikh Hassan has been delighted with the popularity of the new Supercat category that he won two weeks ago and is keen to see it progress in the future. “We swapped seats in Maryland at the last race meeting and invited Mark Granet from Geico and Billy (Mauff) from the WHM team to ride on both our boats. They found out for themselves how good our equipment is and they have almost made their minds up to get similar set-ups to ours for next season.”

The President of the QMSF knows full well that seeing the opposition up their game next year will make it even harder for the Spirit of Qatar team to prevail in 2011. “I know it won’t be easy next time and Ali is also improving very fast and cannot be ruled out of the equation next year.”

Sheikh Hassan also confirmed that the Spirit of Qatar team plan to travel to Australia again next month to take part in a round of the Australian Offshore series with support from Maritimo Offshore. “Ali will race in my seat in Australia to give him even more experience in a racing environment.”

The Spirit of Qatar Team faces fierce competition in Alabama this weekend from the Talkin Trash crew of Jimmy Winters and Vinny Rifice, Billy Mauff and Jay Muller in WHM and American rivals in JD Byrider.

Orange Beach is a city in Baldwin County, Alabama, on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. It is part of the Daphne-Fairhope-Foley area and is hosting the final meeting in the OPA American Offshore calendar.

The first race is scheduled to take place on Friday afternoon (October 15), with teams permitted to practice on the Gulf of Mexico course on Saturday afternoon. The second race is sure to decide the outcome of the world championship and takes place on Sunday afternoon (October 17).


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: 14/10/2010

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